In every conversation about SEO, the emphasis remains on keywords and compelling text. But did you know that the images you upload on your website also play a huge role in enhancing the user experience?
Just imagine: You visit a website that contains nothing but big blocks of text on a white background. Would you continue to interact with the website or leave the page? In most cases, the visitor will find such a site unreliable and take the latter action.
Time and again, researchers have confirmed the importance of visuals and how they make content more powerful.
They also matter for SEO because search engine algorithms pay special attention to metrics like bounce rates and the number of visitors on a page. A properly optimized page will also help them read and understand the context more. Consequently, this will improve your visibility and rankings in search results.
In this guide, let’s look at some tips that will help you optimize your images according to the SEO guidelines.
Choose relevant images
We are all accustomed to seeing illustrations that don’t resonate with the text. This is wrong and will only create confusion for the user. Ultimately, the readers will lose interest and fail to take the desired action. Down the lane, your website will lose traffic and fall down in search engine rankings.
To avoid this issue, make sure you are careful when selecting images for your webpage. The picture should have a clear relationship with the content and vice versa. There are a number of sites where you can find free high-quality images that are relevant to your content.
Also remember that oddly cropped and blurry photos will make your page look unattractive and unprofessional. So make sure you use only high-quality images that are shot in good lightning and have an optimal resolution.
Add descriptive file names
When you save an image file, the names are usually set by default to something like “IMG_8530.jpg.”
Most website owners ignore the names and simply upload their files with the given file names. And truthfully, most site visitors don’t even notice.
However, the search algorithms take note of the file names and find them helpful in categorizing the pages.
Before adding an image to your site, make sure to customize the file names. Be descriptive regarding the product, and if possible, include your main target keyword. For example, if you are an eCommerce store selling sunglasses, you can name the file as “brandname-sunglasses.jpg.”
Incorporate alt text
Another way to help search engine crawlers comprehend your pictures is through ‘”Alt text.” While this may not be visible to the general audience, it will show up if the image fails to load on their screens for some reason.
They are also beneficial for improving website accessibility. It’s what the screen readers will display to visually impaired visitors.
When writing alt text, make sure to:
- Describe the image accurately
- Add keywords if relevant
- Keep it short and to the point
- Don’t start alt text with “image of” or “picture of”
Reduce the image file size
People like fast websites, and their speed is a significant influencer of SEO. In fact, 53% of visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Google search engine crawlers will also crawl your site slowly if it has a slow speed.
One of the best ways to speed up a page’s loading time is to reduce the image file size. The resizing can quickly be done through programs available in standard computers like Microsoft Paint and Preview Program on Mac.
If you have access to Adobe Photoshop, you can use the “Save for Web” command to upload the smallest file size.
Besides resizing, you can also compress the pictures to a decreased file size through online tools like TinyPNG. This will easily lower the file size without disturbing the quality.
Consider different image formats
You may already know that there are three main types of image formats: jpg, png, and gif. However, like most people, you have not given it much thought and simply save the image in any format accessible.
However, the image formats matter to SEO and will ensure your web page streams without any glitches. Here is a breakdown of the image formats to help you understand better:
- JPG: This is one of the most common file formats as it gives the smallest size. It is also widely compatible on the internet. JPG images are great for photographs and realistic-looking paintings. However, it doesn’t support transparent images and will diminish their quality.
- PNG: The PNG file format gives higher resolution and supports images with text. They are commonly used in logos and similar graphics. The only downside is that PNG files tend to be heavier.
- GIF: The GIF files do not support as many colors as the former two. However, it does offer reduced file size and transparent background to simple image files.
For most photos, JPG works the best. But if you are dealing with graphical images, you can go for PNG or GIF. And when it comes to high-quality, nothing beats PNG files.
Add to sitemap
Website owners are encouraged by Google to submit a sitemap of their site. This should include both the content pages and images. According to Google, a sitemap helps search engine crawlers index your site more efficiently.
By providing clear information to search engines about the location of your images, you will increase the chances of them showing up in search results.
If you are using WordPress or Yoast SEO, the images are automatically added to the sitemap you create for your focus pages. However, if you prefer to do it yourself, here are the guidelines that Google provides for creating a sitemap.
Use responsive images
We are all familiar with the term responsive websites. With over 4.28 billion mobile internet users, it is the best way to display your website on all types of devices and screens. However, you need to make sure that your images are responsive as well.
If you are using the latest version of WordPress, the code that enables responsiveness will be automatically integrated into your media files.
For other CMS, you will have to add the HTML code srcset. This will alert the browser to modify the images according to the screen size of the viewers.
Be aware of copyright
Copyright is an important issue in the internet world. Suppose you use an image photographed by someone else without permission. In that case, the original owner can file a lawsuit for unauthorized use. You will also be served a DMCA notice that will force you to take down the photo.
A situation like this can be detrimental to your finances. It will also hurt your brand’s reputation and reduce the traffic on your site. As a result, the search engine algorithms will derate your website’s ranking.
Of course, this does not mean that you can only use original and custom photos. There are plenty of reliable stock photo sites that offer high-quality pictures. They are also backed by a royalty-free license, which means that you can use the images any way you want – after paying a one-time, flat fee.
With all the work that comes with digital marketing, you may be tempted to skip the more minor details like image SEO. Yes, it can be time-consuming, but the SEO benefits of optimizing pictures are worth the effort. Give the above tips a try and experience for yourself!