The Hidden SEO Ranking Factor You’re Probably Deleting

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I wanted to test a hidden ranking signal that not many people talk about.

So last year I built a series of sites to see if embedding hidden image exif data into images affects rankings…

…and I’ve been able to answer that question with quite some success-

Are You Deleting This Data Accidentally?

If you’ve been following traditional image SEO advice like like Google’s page speed insights that tell you to compress your images…

google page speed advice removes this data

…it’s likely you’ve installed a plugin like WP Smush, Shortpixel or Imagify.

The problem with that, is these plugins often strip this valuable hidden exif data when optimizing images to reduce image size-

Image SEO is for optimizing images beyond just alt text

So if you have been following traditional image SEO (alt text etc) & site speed advice.

You might want to take a closer look to make sure you’re not stripping out this hidden image SEO benefit accidentally.

How To Add Exif Data To Your Images

Luckily for us adding exif data to images is both quick and free!

All you have to do is go to thexifer.net and upload an image-

exif setup 1

Then click on the little blue “Exif.me” button.

That will open a popup that allows you to edit all of the image exif data to your heart’s content-

image exif setup 2

I like to play around with the following fields-

Exif General Tab

  • Artist
  • OwnerName
  • Copyright
  • ImageDescription
  • UserComment

IPTC Tags Tab

  • By-line
  • By-lineTitle
  • CopyrightNotice
  • Writer-Editor
  • Keywords
  • ObjectName
  • Headline
  • Caption-Abstract

XMP Tags Tab

  • Creator
  • Rights
  • Title
  • Description
  • Rating
  • Label
  • Headline

Once you are done:

You can just click the blue Go.eXifing button here-

save file

It will take a little moment to process the image…

…then you should see a green message like this one at the top of the page-

exif saved

Now just close the editor…

…and download the final image-

download image

Then upload it to your site and insert it into a piece of content.

BUT!

You should also double-check that the hidden image exif data you just added isn’t getting stripped out automatically.

How To Check For Hidden Image Exif Data

If you are following this process for the first time, I highly recommend you double-check everything.

First, get the current public-facing live URL of your image and save a copy of it.
(or save this sample image)

Then head over to metadata2go.com and upload the image.

This will reveal all of the embedded exif data-

viewing image exif data

If you do not see the data you added here, then it’s likely the data is being stripped out.

Double-check the settings of plugins like Shortpixel, Imagify or WPSmush and even some CDN’s like CloudFlare Polish will strip this data out.

Fix whatever the problem is then re-upload the image again and repeat the test.

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Wrapping It Up

So, does embedding image exif data influence rankings?

Yeah, it seems so!

But if you’ve been following most traditional SEO advice, it’s likely you are stripping out this hidden image SEO advantage unknowingly.

So make sure you are paying close attention!

What do you think about using hidden image exif data as a ranking factor?

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What Are Your Thoughts?

143 Responses

  1. Hi Matthew, is there a quick way to do this for the whole site? Image by image will be a long process. Thanks!

  2. Hi Matthew, great post! Do I need to do this for all of my images in a single blog post? Or just the main image?Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the post. I just have a quick question. Does it mean that we should not use the WP smush or other image optimization plugins on WordPress?.

  4. Hi Matthew, Great post! I did not know about this, and I feel I am making this mistake. Thanks a lot for bringing my attention to this mistake, I will fix it as soon as possible. I am extremely grateful for you putting this post, it will help a lot of people who are making the same mistake. I will also be sharing this resource in my network to help them out. I appreciate you taking the time and curating this article.

  5. Hi, Matthew WoodwardI’m really impressed with your blog. It was informative. Moreover, how precisely you have described the topic. I will eagerly wait for more and more creatives from you.

  6. Great Article. Thank you so much for typing these awesome words for us. I read your blogs which you posted recently, Blogs are too interesting and I will also connect with your blogs in future. Thanks again for this fantastic sharing 

  7. Great post shared by you…. It was great experience at your post and thanks for sharing with us.

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