Congrats! You wrote an authoritative piece of content and got it published on a domain that Google deemed worthy of a featured snippet. This is big for your brand. You should be proud.

Except…that image appearing next to your words is from a competitor? Yikes.

There are a few reasons why this could happen.

Your page doesn’t have an image

Sorry, I know this is the “is your computer plugged in?” of image SEO, but the details slip when we’re in panic mode. Happens to the best of us!

Your image is too small

There are no set rules around how big your image should be. Depending on the content strategy behind your page, a thumbnail image might be logical. But you shouldn’t expect that to appear in a featured snippet because it’s probably too small to be consumable on its own.

Your image is low-quality

If it’s fuzzy, grainy, or just looks wrong, your image probably won’t be featured. Google wants to show images that will help the user, and images that are difficult to see properly don’t fit the bill.

Your image isn’t optimized

You can make some easy fixes to your images to help them appear in search over time:

• Give your images files clear and concise filenames that describe each image

Instead of filenames like “DCM1234.jpg” or “diagram-1-.png,” try “how-to-measure-your-own-height.jpg” or “lime-green-hat-with-chupacabra-graphic.png.”

• Describe the image using alt text

You should add alt text to your images for accessibility, not just optimization. Write descriptive alt text that offers a little context. It’s as easy as writing a sentence that describes what’s going on in the image.

• Link to the image from other pages on your domain using descriptive anchor text

Neither bots nor people can find something on your site unless you link to it. Linking to an image will help people find it. It also gives the search engine some clues that the image is important to your customers and users. Anchor text makes those clues more explicit. You can use anchor text as a call-to-action, like “Learn more about propagating plant clippings here.” (That’s not a real link, but you get the idea.)

• Write captions for your images, where it makes sense to do so

Depending on your content strategy and the template of your page, you may have space to write a caption under or text to your image. Write a caption that describes your image, but keep it consistent with the voice and narrative of the page as a whole. Remember that alt text is more literal, because it describes the image for people who can’t see it. A caption can be more stylistic.

Now go forth and cement your brand’s reputation with the power of image SEO!