Optimizing Images For Yandex .Search & .Images

Yandex presented a neural network prototype for generating images

Optimizing images for Yandex isn’t too dissimilar from the same practices you would utilize for Google. However, there are some differences that can help give you an advantage when it comes to how highly Yandex returns (or ranks) your images within search results.

Yandex acknowledges that images can help improve the user experience, and quality, of a webpage and well optimized images can help improve a webpage’s individual ranking in search results through improved behavioural factors (ICS score) and generally improving the page’s relevancy for that specific query.

It’s important to note that Yandex.Search and Yandex.Images are two separate entities, and both use different algorithms to determine content ranking, meaning it’s possible for your webpage to be indexed in normal search results, but the image excluded from image results.

How Yandex Indexes Images

When it comes to indexing images, Yandex’s user-agent downloads them from links making use of either the img or src attribute. Yandex also supports data-src and data-original, and at present only indexes images in JPEG, PNG, or GIF format.

It’s also worth noting that Yandex will only index images that are not blocked directly by the robots.txt file, or located only on pages that themselves are blocked.

Aside from these technical prerequisites, Yandex also determines an image’s value and whether or not it is worth indexing based on the image description and associated meta data. This is also one of a number of ranking factors for Yandex image search.

You can also upload an image XML sitemap to your site, and specify a number of information points including the image caption, the location in which it was shot, it’s title, and a link to the image license URL. The image XML sitemap can be especially useful if your website typically serves image content through JavaScript, as Yandex does currently have issues with identifying content and links served by this method.

Ranking Images In Yandex

In Yandex’s documentation they describe image metadata as being one of a number of ranking factors taking into account by the search engine.

The types of image metadata important to Yandex are:

  • The text included within the image alt attribute
  • The text included in the image title attribute
  • The name of the image file itself

These factors alone can enable an image to rank for a query, related to the image itself, even if it’s not present as plain text on the page wherein the image is located. the alt and title attributes are the most universal, and Yandex recommends that they are always specified.

This being said the text and focus of the page itself can also impact how well an image performs in organic search. For shorter articles and texts, headers on the page can also play a role, but for the most part Yandex takes into account the text in and around the image proximity.

When it comes to writing image captions, titles, and descriptions, Yandex recommends that they are written with the user in mind and as informative about the image as possible – and not seen as an opportunity to keyword stuff.

Image Schema

Yandex also supports schema mark-up for images, and in their webmaster documentation claim that by using this type of schema mark-up you can:

improve your website footprint in the Yandex.Images search results

Yandex provides support for schema mark-up implemented in Microdata format (unlike Google which prefers JSON-LD), and supports the below itemprops:

  • contentUrl or image (required)
  • thumbnail
  • name
  • caption
  • description
  • height
  • width


Dan Taylor
Dan Taylor is an experienced SEO consultant and has worked with brands and companies on optimizing for Russia (and Yandex) for a number of years. Winner of the inaugural 2018 TechSEO Boost competition, webmaster at HreflangChecker.com and Sloth.Cloud, and founder of RussianSearchNews.com.