Images not only make your content more accessible, appealing, and engaging to users, but they are also important for SEO.
Understanding the fundamentals of image optimization gives your content the best chance of success with SEO.
What exactly is image optimization?
Image optimization entails creating and delivering high-quality images in the appropriate format, size, and resolution in order to increase user engagement. It also entails correctly labeling images with metadata so that search engine crawlers can read them and understand the context of the page.
According to HTTP Archive, images made up 21% of an average web page’s total weight in 2018, and that share is likely to have grown in recent years as image use has grown – they consume more bytes than any other part of the website. As a result, image size and complexity have a significant impact on site performance.
When images can be reduced in size without sacrificing quality, page load times and overall user experience improve. This can improve search engine rankings, which in turn improves customer engagement, conversions, and retention.
TIP: Because optimized images take up less storage space on your server, site backups are completed faster.
Now I’ll go over ten ways to optimize your images.
01. Resize your image
Image size and file size are not synonymous. The dimensions of an image are referred to as its image size (e.g., 1024 pixels by 680 pixels). The storage space is defined by file size (e.g., 350 kilobytes).
Images with higher resolution and larger dimensions significantly slow down page load times. While they are appropriate for printed materials, they should be scaled down and sized for the web.
TIP: Use this guide to determine the ideal image sizes for social media platforms.
Save the proper format
PNG, JPEG, and GIF all have advantages. JPEG is best for images with a lot of color, and PNG is best for simple images.
Choose the right compression rate
How well an image is compressed affects both file size and quality – the smaller the file, the poorer the image quality.
Experiment with file types and compression rates to see what works best for each image. Many image-editing tools, like Adobe Photoshop, have a save-for-the-web option that automatically minimizes the file size while optimizing image quality.
If you don’t use Photoshop, these tools and plug-ins can help:
Image optimization tools
- Affinity Photo
- ImageOptim (Mac only)
- JPEG Mini
- Kraken (bulk compression)
- Pixlr (JPEG optimization)
WordPress plug-ins for image optimization
Test your Speed
How do you know if your website page loading times are fast enough after you’ve optimized your images? To test the speed of your website, use one of the following tools:
TIP: If your website’s content changes frequently, keep an eye on your load times.
02. Improve image file names
To maximize SEO power, name the file with relevant, descriptive keywords. Include the target keywords at the beginning, separated by hyphens. Use underscores sparingly because search engines do not recognize them and cannot “see” the words individually.
Both search engines and humans should be able to understand file names. For example, if the original name of an image of a woman in a hair salon is salon234.jpg, rename it to woman-having-a-haircut-in-a-salon.jpg.
03. Make use of alt tags
Viewers may understand the image, but search engine spiders require more information. Search engines cannot accurately index your image content without alternative text.
A good alt tag provides context while also assisting visually impaired users. When a bug prevents an image from loading, search engines can read the alternative text to determine the page’s ranking. Write a more detailed alt tag than the file name. Aim for 10 to 15 words to convey information about the image.
TIP: To increase visibility, include brand-related terms in alt tags, but avoid keyword stuffing.
04. Optimize images for mobile viewing
Because Google’s algorithm employs mobile-first indexing, crawlers focus primarily on a site’s mobile version. As a result, your images should be mobile-friendly as well. How? The short answer is to make sure your images and website layout are mobile-friendly.
Some website builders and templates resize images automatically, but you can specify image size based on a device’s width. To accomplish this, add some custom CSS code to your website. To learn more about making your images responsive, read this simple guide.
05. Improve the image title
WordPress typically derives the image title from the file name. However, if you do not use WordPress or the title does not adequately describe the image, update it with the appropriate keywords in the same way that file names are updated.
Image titles are less important for SEO, but they can help to contextualize the alt text. Image titles are more engaging for users, so consider including a brief call to action such as “buy now” or “download today.”
06. Include captions
Image captions – the words that appear directly beneath images – may have no direct impact on SEO. Captions, unlike file names and alt text, are visible and can enhance the website experience. Including captions can have an indirect impact on SEO, as well as improve user experience and engagement metrics.
07. Make use of one-of-a-kind images
Stock photos are acceptable, but they will not necessarily help your search rankings because other websites are likely to use the same images. Similarly to how unique written content is better for SEO, uploading unique images is a good idea.
08. Check that the text complements the images
If your text does not provide enough information to explain an image, use the page copy to help search engines determine its relevance.
09. Include image structured data
Structured data on your pages aids search engines in displaying your images as rich results. Structured data is supported by Google Images for product images, videos, and recipes. For example, it adds a badge to an image if it recognizes that it is accompanied by text, such as a recipe.
Learn how to add structured data to your pages within the parameters of Google’s structured data general guidelines.
10. Make use of site maps
A site map is defined by Google as “a file in which you can list the web pages of your site to inform Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content.” In other words, it’s a file that contains a map of the content on your website.
Site maps are essential for SEO because they inform search engines about your website’s pages and structure. Include every image – an infographic, meme, photo, video thumbnail, etc. – in your site map to ensure that search engine crawlers notice them.
Include the title, description, URL location, caption, and license information for each image entry. Include the title, description, URL location, thumbnail URL, and raw video file URL for video entries.
If your website is hosted on WordPress, you can use Yoast SEO, which adds visual content to a site map automatically.
Make the most of your photographs
If you’re having trouble getting your content noticed, keep these strategies in mind before uploading any images. These image optimization techniques will make your content more appealing to both search engines and human users.