A lot of the images that I post are schematics and diagrams. In those, about 30% of the "ink" is in the callouts and labels. I believe, readers comprehend better when the text is on the figure, compared to putting it in the caption under the figure.

I'd hate if all this goodness goes unnoticed by search engines. Of course, I can use alt='' attribute and <figcaption>, but it would be nicer if the text inside of the diagram got indexed too.

So far, I found these image publishing guidelines by Google. They advise against embedding text into images. But I wonder, how old are those guidelines? The videos on that page are from 2007 and 2009.

So, finally, my questions are:

  • Does Google OCR and index text in the images?
  • If not, what are the ways to make Google index diagrams with text? (I'm guessing, may be diagrams can be posted as SVG. There is a report that Google indexes inside SVG.)

3 Answers 3


I do not know of any truly elegant solutions. Some options:

  1. SVG, the text is indexed
  2. PDF with OCR, it is indexed
  3. PowerPoint or Word documents, indexed
  4. Use CSS position to layer the text behind your image.
  5. Load the text first, then when the image loads, dynamically remove the text. See Facebook's suggestion for their comments box.

Google does not read images for text. Your Google reference was talking about links where a text based image is used for the link. It is okay if the alt tag is informative, but Google prefers text based links. That is all Google is referencing.

As far as your image is concerned, you have three things that will help you inform search engines about the image:

  • The alt tag.
  • Any link to the image if one exists.
  • The content surrounding the image.

The content surrounding the image can be anything. It can be typically a header tag or a paragraph for example.

Regarding SVG images. SVG are XML based vector images. If you can convert your diagram to SVG, then that would be indexed. But how SVG images are converted and then used by search engines, I cannot tell you- I have no experience with them. It is something to experiment with.

  • I think you might need to check this blog post.
    – Diaa
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 17:54
  • @Diaa Yes. Nearly three years after I post this answer. In more recent answers I explain how reading text in images results in noisy data. Is it a good idea? Not in my book. I still do not see great results from doing so.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 19:49

You can create sitemaps for images and upload it in Google Webmaster Tools.


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