Gone are the days when images were solely used for aesthetic or decorative purposes. Modern SEO experts have unlocked the lesser-known potential of images and other visual elements. Through image optimization, they are now using imagery to reinforce search engine rankings of websites, blogs, and other marketing materials.
Now, the question is:
What Is Image Optimization?
Simply put, it is a process that allows you to present images and other visual assets in an ideal format, size, and resolution. This helps take your SEO strategy to another level and improve your search engine rankings.
How Does It Work?
For starters, image optimization helps Google or other search engines understand an image’s content and grasp your website’s context. It ultimately lets the search engine list your website among relevant search results or queries.
It also helps cut down the load time of images on a website or blog and speeds up the page loading process.
Moreover, you can provide a smooth user experience, generate organic traffic, and land on top of SERPs with a proper image optimization strategy.
Best Practices to Optimize Images for SEO
This article will share the best practices to optimize your images for SEO. Correct implementation will help to achieve all the benefits mentioned above.
Let’s get started!
Resize Your Images
The resolution and dimensions of an image determine its size. The more the resolution and dimensions, the heavier the image will be. And we know heavier images notoriously slow down the page loading speed.
Not only does a slow-loading page puts off the user and leads to a more significant bounce rate, but it also negatively impacts a website’s SEO ranking.
Google spiders consider a page’s loading speed when determining where to place it among the query results. To ensure that none of that happens, resizing your images is mandatory. Here’s what you can do when resizing your images:
Select The Right Format!
There is no one right format for images on your website. The most famous image formats include JPEG, PNG, and GIF. Each format has a different purpose, and selecting the suitable format is the key to optimizing your images for SEO.
For instance, JPEGs take up the least space while keeping the quality intact. They are best for photographic images, hero images, catalogs, mastheads, etc. This format has a lot of room for compression, which means you can considerably reduce the size of a JPEG image, so it doesn’t weigh down the page.
On the other hand, PNGs have excellent transparency, making them ideal for graphics, logos, icons, and illustrations. The images in PNG format are crisp but could slow down a website, owing to their capacity to hold more data.
Moreover, if you are looking to add an animated touch to your website, GIFs are your go-to option.
Decide Your Compression Rate!
Compressing all the images on your website is crucial to a winning image optimization strategy. But deciding the correct compression rate can be difficult because compressing will obviously lower image quality. Finding the right balance between compression rate and image quality is critical!
You can experiment with different compression rates for different image formats and see what works best for each image type.
Name Your Images Properly
Doesn’t it feel nice to just carelessly name the images without having to put too much thought into a proper image file name?
While it may seem like a better idea, investing a little time in naming your images correctly can make a huge difference in your SEO results.
Let’s assume you have a clothing website and want to upload a photograph of a female model wearing a cardigan from your brand. Here’s how you should not name the image file:
“Image001.jpeg” OR “IMG_20222707”
Search engines don’t comprehend images as humans do. They need your assistance in understanding the content of an image. The following is an appropriate image file name:
The detailed image file name will help search engine spiders identify your image and list it among relevant queries. This will increase the chances of higher SEO rankings.
Never Undervalue Alt Texts
Alt text is the text that appears in place of an image when it fails to load on a browser. Not only that, alt text helps visually impaired users and search engines fully comprehend what is depicted in your images.
Alt texts are written in a website’s HTML code to describe what the image is about. For example, that image of the lady in a red cardigan should have the following alt text:
<img src= “woman-wearing-red-cardigan.jpeg” alt= “female model wearing red cardigan from women’s winter clothing range”/>
The above alt text is precise, descriptive, and contains enough relevant keywords. While incorporating as many keywords as possible is great, you should avoid keyword stuffing. Here’s an example of keyword stuffing:
<img src= “woman-wearing-red-cardigan.jpeg” alt= “winter clothes winter clothing for women female wear cardigan for women cardigans”/>
This alt text may help you at first. But in the long run, Google will identify ‘over optimization’ and downgrade your page for being too clever with it.
Don’t Forget Image Captions
While image captions don’t directly contribute to a website’s SEO, they have excellent marketing potential. You can improve your website’s credibility and retain viewership by creating nice image captions.
An image caption gives a short and sweet representation of what your website’s content is about. This way, you give your audience a seamless on-site experience and lower your bounce rate.
It also ultimately contributes to your website’s credibility, and the more credible a platform, the better will be its SEO rankings.
Create Catchy Image Titles
Just like image captions, image titles have no direct link to improving your SEO rankings. Still, they optimize user experience by providing more context to your alt text.
Catchy image titles can trigger user engagement by enticing them to perform a specific task.
You can add a call to action (CTA) under different images through a cool image title. This practice is sure to drive positive user activity and subsequently stop users from navigating out of your website.
Use Unique Images
Using unique images for your website is a major part of a comprehensive image optimization strategy. Uploading overused images can damage your brand’s credibility and eventually lower your search engine rankings. In that case, getting original photos seems the only option, but it can be heavy on the pocket.
If you have budget limitations, you can incorporate stock images for hero images, icons, background images, etc.
When getting stock images, make sure you only purchase from the most reputable websites that detail you about their licensing and copyrights.
Moreover, finding unique stock photos can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. And then, you can always add your touch to the stock images to minus the “stockiness” and make them seem more personalized.
Create a Sitemap
According to Google, a sitemap is “a database where you give information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site and their relationships.”
Creating a sitemap is essential for a wholesome image optimization strategy. While making the sitemap, ensure you have mentioned all its visual elements, including logos, icons, and thumbnails. A detailed sitemap will help search spiders locate all these visuals, which they will consider while assigning SEO ranking to your page.
Try Lazy Loading
Lazy loading of images is the practice of delaying the loading of website elements until they’re actually needed on the screen.
It simply means that the lazy loading process delays the loading of an image which will only be visible if the user scrolls down the page. In other words, the entire page does not start to load all at once, which can slow down the page’s speed.
We already understand that a page’s speed is considered by search engine crawlers while assigning SEO rankings. And lazy loading does just that by lessening a page’s loading time.
Moreover, this technique also reduces bandwidth usage as it only loads the image that the user requests, delivering a seamless on-site journey.
With technological advancement, businesses and brands rely more on the internet. Everybody has a website, be it an apparel store or a wellness business. Hence, the race to stay ahead of peers has also reached cyberspace.
Search Engine Optimization is the answer if you want your website or blog to thrive and do better than your rivals. And a great SEO strategy is incomplete without an even greater image optimization plan.
Images account for a considerable part of a website, which is all the more reason for you to leverage their potential and incorporate them into your SEO strategy!