Images are not only used for aesthetics, they combine with other elements on your website to help you communicate your message in the most powerful and most effective way possible. However, using images the wrong way will not only affect user experience but also hurt your ranking on search engines.
This is why image optimization is very important.
Image optimization is one of the fundamental aspects of on-page search optimization (SEO).
Optimizing the images on your website can improve page load speed which increases user engagement and search engine ranking.
But as with anything SEO, the devil is in the details.
In this post, you’ll learn how to properly optimize images for SEO is a simple, step by step process.
What is Image Optimization?
Image optimization is the process of optimizing web images to deliver high-quality visual content in the right format, size, dimension, and resolution.
You can optimize images for SEO in different ways, whether by resizing the images, compressing the size or caching.
The ultimate goal of optimizing images is to help your website loads fast while improving user experience and promoting longer dwell time.
According to HTTP Archive, images make up to 21% of a total webpage’s weight. When it comes to optimizing your website, after video content, images are by far the next place to touch. Image optimization is more important than scripts and fonts.
Proper good image optimization work is one of the easiest on-page strategies to implement, yet a lot of website owners don’t do it correctly.
Why is Load Speed Important?
Google in its latest algorithm update has hinted that site speed is one of the ranking signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. Using one of its core web vitals otherwise known as Largest Contentful Paint or LCP, Google measures how long it takes the main content on a webpage to load.
Google recommends that the LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds or faster from the moment the page first starts loading.
In addition, page load speed is important to user experience. Pages that load fast tend to have higher average time on page and lower bounce rates. Conversely, pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and are more likely to hurt conversions.
Tips for Optimizing Images for SEO
1. Resize your images
Before uploading any image on your website, it’s important to check for the size and ensure it is within an acceptable range.
Note that image size and file are not the same. Image size refers to the dimension of an image (e.g., 1024 by 680) while file size is the amount of space required to store the image on the service (measured in kilobytes, bytes and megabytes, etc.).
Whether you’re resizing or compressing images, always ensure that image quality isn’t compromised.
2. Choose the right compression rate
When an image is compressed too much, it loses its quality and appears blurry. On the other hand, when the compression rate is low, the image quality is high but the file size is large. Using image editing tools, like Adobe Photoshop have a “save for the web” option, which automatically compresses the file size while retaining image quality.
3. Pick the right file format
Choosing the right file formats for your image can feel confusing, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. There are different types of formats and each has its benefits.
The most common formats are JPEG, and PNG. While JPEGs are good for images with lots of color, PNG is a perfect choice for simple images. You can learn further about the different file formats.
JPEG: It often comes with varying degree of sizes and enable you to adjust image quality level to find a good balance
PNG: This format produces better quality than JPEG, but typically comes with larger file size
GIF – GIF is the best choice for animated images, but it only uses lossless compression
SVG: SVG is a scalable vector format which works best for logos, icons, text, and simple images. SVG is traditionally smaller than JPEG and PNG and typically results in faster page load speed.
4. Create Unique Images
While generic stock images can be easily curated online, and usually cheaper, you risk appearing unoriginal when you always have to depend on them for your web content. This is because hundreds of websites are probably using the same images.
Using unique, high-quality images doesn’t only help you to stand out among competitors, it also delivers huge SEO benefits. Original images help you create a better experience for the user while also ranking on relevant searches.
5. Customize Image File Names
When it comes to SEO, saving your images with descriptive, keyword rich file names is extremely pivotal. This is because search engines cannot accurately make sense of visual content on its own.
The default file names typically look like “IMG_002221” or something similar. That doesn’t help Google to understand what you mean. The only way search engine bots understand what your image represents is through the file name.
If you create a blog post about the “best pizza in town”, there are chances that you will want to feature some inviting pictures of pizza in your content. But instead of leaving your image in the default file name, you could simply name it “pizza”.
6. Write SEO-Friendly Alt Text
Alt tags refer to text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. Similar to file names, alt texts or attributes are used to describe the content of an image file. It provides search engines with useful information about the subject matter of the image.
When the image doesn’t load, you will get an image box with the alt tag appearing in the top left corner. Adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website helps achieve better ranking as search engines associate keywords with images.
Alt tags don’t only assist search engines in deciphering the meaning of your image, it also helps users who are unable to view images themselves. Thus, alt text is required under the American Disabilities Act for individuals with visual impairment.
The alt tag could read:
<img src=”pizza.jpg” alt=”chicken pizza”/>
You can make the text more descriptive by further describing the pizza.
For example, you have something like:
<img src=”chicken.jpg” alt=”pizza with grilled chicken”/>
Using excessively large, low quality images on your website doesn’t only hurt your ranking in search engines, it also negatively affects user experience. Before uploading any image to your website next time, ensure that you test the image for your optimization. If you need help or simply want to learn more about image optimization for SEO, contact us today.