Here’s a stat that may catch you off-guard: Blog posts/articles that feature images get 94 percent more views on average than content without images. Talk about a picture having the same worth as a thousand words. No wonder several website owners have begun to use high-quality images to increase the appeal of their business/ecommerce/not-for-profit websites.
But what are the best practices for leveraging images when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization)? With a few tweaks and the right strategy, the images you’re currently using or are planning to use can move from being a simple visual representation of your site to a crucial aspect of how search engines view and rank your content. Discover how to optimize site images for traffic and SEO with these simple tips.
1. When Naming Images, Use Keywords
The first image optimization tactic that you should consider implementing is descriptively naming your visuals. For most site owners, it’s tempting to go down the straightforward path and just keep the default name file assigned by the computer. However, the majority of these default names aren’t SEO optimized. To ensure that these images rank well in Google, use relevant keywords to name them. That’s because search engines also look for keywords in the file description of keywords. If you use descriptive and keyword-rich file names, you can expect people to come across your site through Google Image search.
2. Use Alt Tags to Make Images Accessible
Alt tag refers to the description site owners give to a visual that exits within the code of their website. Simply put, alt tags mean that whatever is present in the image is written into your site’s HMTL language. The line of code instructs web browsers what’s supposed to be in place of an image if it faces loading issues. Also, alt tags help visually impaired individuals using screen readers know what the image is about. If they hold their cursor over a picture or an infographic, a modern screen reader will be able to convey the alt image attribute to them. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll get an option to write an alt attribute when you upload an image to the CMS. If you don’t define a custom alt tag, WordPress will automatically make it the same as the file title. This might be good or bad, based on what you might have to convey to search engines or visually-impaired visitors.
3. Use Hyphens When Naming Image Files
When renaming images, know that you can use hyphens between different terms to divide them (did you know that underscores join the files?). Therefore, if you want to improve SEO ranking for the keyword “apple cheap airpods”, name the image file as “apple-cheap-airpod”. If you’re going to name it as “apple_cheap_airpods”, Google is going to read it as “applecheapairpods” – and might search right over your search ranking intent. The same could happen in the URL/permalinks of your site or its blog posts, so make sure you divide the terms using hyphens rather than underscores. Also, don’t be too fancy when it comes to naming a visual, and don’t go heavy on the keywords (what is known as keyword stuffing). If it’s your business card, a simple “ABC-business-card” is fine. Treat the keywords you use for images like link keywords, and experiment with different terms if necessary over a period.
4. Resize Your Image Files
Another key image optimization tip is minimizing the file size of your pictures. People who use a laptop or a desktop wait just 3 seconds for web pages to open. On smartphones, it could take up to five seconds for a web page to open up. Therefore, if your blog post or home page is taking more than 15 seconds to open (because of the heavy image files it is hosting), you’re likely to lose a major portion of potential traffic. On top of that, Google and other search engines factor in page load time when ranking sites. Fortunately, you can reduce the size of your image files to a certain extent. How small or big should the size be? Well, it is best to keep the size below 80kb. Adobe Photoshop is one software that allows users to easily resize images. All you have to do is save the image for the internet, adjust it to the lowest size. Go to “File > Save for Web” to adjust the settings. If you aren’t comfortable with Adobe Photoshop, you can use one of the following online services to resize image files free of cost: Resize Pic, Web Resizer or Pic Resize.
5. Use Sitemaps to Get Google to Recognize Your Images
Does your website include image galleries? How about opt-in forms like an email sign up or an ebook download request? Nowadays, visitors love videos, memes, and infographics. Guess what? These too can be added to a sitemap. For those wo don’t know, sitemaps enable users to optimize their video and image files for search engine algorithms. They’re basically files where site owners can list the web pages of their domain to tell Google about their site’s hierarchy. That enables search engines to intelligently crawl the site. For video entries, site owners should include description, title, thumbnail permalink, raw video fie URL, as well as Play page URL (aka location). For image entries, title, caption, description, and location URL are sufficient. If you have tons of videos and images, then it’s best to create individual site maps for each of them. If you want to get these essentials noticed by Bingbots, Googlebots, and other crawlers, you should definitely add your video and image files to your sitemap. WordPress owners just need to install the Yoast SEO plugin. It automatically adds videos, text, etc. to a website’s sitemap.
6. Choose The Right File Type for Your Visuals
For posting images on the internet, three file types are most commonly used: PNG, GIF and JPEG. JPEG is the oldest of these. The best thing about this file format is that JPEG images can be compressed with ease. The best part? Most JPEG images will retain quality even after undergoing compression. On the other hand, .gif files are lower in quality than JPEG. Gif files are mostly used for simplistic visuals, like decorative videos or moving animation. The last type, PNG, supports several colors and don’t deteriorate with time like some JPEG files do. For most site owners, JPEG is going to the best bet. If you have an ecommerce site and product photos reach you in PNG format, try avoiding PNG-24 and use PNG-8 instead. PNG is best for saving graphics and logs because the original quality of the file is preserved –no one is impressed by pixelated visuals or blurry descriptions. However, if someone saves an image as PNG, it should appear incredible, but the resulting size of the file won’t be impressive.
7. Use Captions
Another best practise for optimizing images is using captions. In WordPress, the caption generally appears in a grew box below an uploaded picture and explain what the visitor is seeing in the image. While people may not come across your alt tag (which serves the same purpose, more or less), there’s a good chance that the caption below the visual is something they’ll be going through. Captions are quite handy because not everyone is able to understand what an image depicts right away. This is especially true for abstracts and other images that have a deep meaning associated with them. Therefore, inserting captions will offer context for the picture which further offers context for search engines to understand an image through elements beyond the alt attribute. It’s also worth mentioning that some images can stand along even though you can use captions to add extra value. In other words, no one should force in a caption if it isn’t needed.
8. Use A CDN
A CDN includes strategically put web servers present in data centers all over the goal. If you use a content delivery network (CDN), it’s going to make its servers host several copies of your images and when a user’s browser asks for an image from your site, the CDN will automatically point the browser to a server that’s nearby based on the visitor’s geographical location. There are several options like KeyCDN, Sucuri and Amazon Cloudfront. Options like Sucuri include a CDN as well as a Fireall for added security. Even CloudFlare and other big names, which arent’ strictly CDNs, offer one for free and are convenient to set up in many shared hosting plans.
Ready to Optimize?
Now queries related to image optimization won’t make you turn and toss for hours. You know the difference between file times. You know some tactics to get your photos to rank in Google Image search results. And you know how to leverage alt tags. Still, image optimization is a vast domain and we’re laid out the basics, so feel free to ask questions if you have any by leaving comments below.