Images are crucial to enhancing your content’s visibility, attractiveness, and engagement. But did you know that they are equally vital for search engines?
We all know that images are the backbone of any context. They make (or break) the text and make it more appealing to the viewers. The images you add to your website, and blog posts also make your content more understandable for the readers and easy to consume.
However, images are not something that you can add because they are attractive to the eyes. They also render to the search engines and make content more search-friendly.
In fact, over 20% of US-based searches happen on Google Image Search. Moreover, the daily pageviews of Google Images are greater than 1 billion.
Simply put, you are losing a lot of SEO assets by adding unoptimized images to your webpage.
But let’s change that with a few simple tips.
What is Image Optimization?
Image optimization is the process of creating and delivering high-quality images so search crawlers can index them.
These images constitute an ideal format, size, and resolution to enhance user engagement. It also includes accurate labeling of images so search engine crawlers can easily read and understand the page context.
However, images take up significant space on a webpage. As a result, this decreases the load time of a webpage impacting the user experience. An Aberdeen Group study shows that even a one-second delay in page load time can cost a 7% drop in conversions. Research also shows that visitors abandon a webpage if it takes more than three seconds to load.
And images play a significant role in the page load speed.
So how can you improve the page loading time without compromising the quality? And keep search crawlers happy with your efforts too.
In the below image SEO optimization tips, we will show you how!
- Use High-Quality Images
- Beware of Copyright
- Choose the Right Image Format
- Add Proper Image File Name
- Remember Alt Tags
- Add Image Titles
- Include Captions
- Add Schema Markup
- Resize Images
- Use a Consistent Size and Style
- Enable Browser Caching
- Add a CDN
- Use Lazy Loading
- Use a Sitemap
- Use Relevant Images
- Make it Mobile Friendly
1. Use High-Quality Images
While customized shoots appear best, there is no harm in buying stock photographs for your website. If you cannot curate professional and unique images for your webpage, you can turn to readily available images off the internet.
Nowadays, several websites offer free and cheap stock photographs for use. These images are readily available and have utilized the best practices during shots to bring out high-quality photos for the users.
However, when using stock photographs, choose images that appear unique and don’t seem over posed. It would be best to look for pictures that are not already used on a competitor’s website and are relevant to your website’s overall theme.
2. Beware of Copyright
Make sure there is no copyright issue in the image you use. Otherwise, it can cost you thousands of dollars in a lawsuit. Ultimately, a lawsuit will also force you to take down your website and degrade your credibility.
When taking photographs from the internet, do not simply take any image you find on a Google search. Instead, check out stock photography websites to find images applicable for commercial use.
A specific license usually backs stock photographs. The license allows users to utilize the images for commercial use and even modify them according to their requirements.
However, some free stock photography sites do not consent from the models used in the photographs. This means using those images is illegal and can result in legal action.
Simply put, check each image that you use from the internet carefully. See the licenses offered by the stock photography websites. Ensure that the faces of models or private property are not visible. And if they are – the vendors have special permission to use these images.
3. Choose the Right Image Format
While it is easily forgettable, image format plays a vital role in establishing an image’s size.
There are different options to choose from when it comes to the format. However, PNG And JPEG format remain the most common types of format you can use for an image.
- PNG stands for ‘Portable Network Graphics.’ These images have lossless compression, which means the image quality stays the same before and after compression. But these images come with large file sizes, meaning they take longer to load.
- JPEG is a common choice of imagery produced by digital photography. They are also great for images with more detail and are helpful for responsive presentation. However, JPEG images aren’t the best choice for contextual drawings or pictures with text.
If you are looking to add animation, GIF is an ideal option. It supports 256 different colors chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space and is a popular web image option.
Understand each image format and apply the one that helps you find the right balance between quality and user experience.
4. Add Proper Image File Name
Before uploading any image on your website, make sure it comes with a proper file name that is descriptive with relevant keywords for the most SEO power.
When adding file names, make sure to separate keywords with a hyphen (-). But avoid the use of underscores because search engine crawlers cannot recognize them.
Apart from search engines, file names should be understandable by humans too. For example, instead of naming a puppy picture as ‘puppy1234.jpg,’ make the file name more descriptive, like a puppy playing with a ball, etc.
However, remember that the file name should be relevant to the image and not confusing to the viewers.
5. Remember Alt Tags
Your viewers may understand what a picture is. Still, search crawlers wouldn’t depict it unless an image is described accurately. This is where Alternative Text or Alt Tags come in.
These small snippets of text help search engine robots analyze the image’s context and rank it accordingly. The Alt Tags also help visually impaired users understand the picture.
When creating Alt Tags for your images, be as descriptive as possible. While there is no specific number set for the alternative texts, aim for 10 – 15 words to accurately inform the readers and the search engine what the image is about.
6. Add Image Titles
If you are using WordPress, the CMS platform automatically takes the title from the file name, so you can leave it as it is. However, you will need to add a label to explain the image for other platforms. If you don’t, the viewers will see a blank box when the image fails to load correctly.
When adding image titles, describe what your image is about. You can also consider adding a call to action like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Subscribe’ to your image title to increase user engagement.
7. Include Captions
Image captions are words that appear directly beneath an image – to describe the image or shed some light on the context. Although they don’t directly impact SEO, unlike Alt Tags, they are visible to everyone who lands on your page.
This is why image captions are said to enhance the user experience. Without captions, there is a good chance of your bounce rate increasing – resulting in adverse credibility for your website.
8. Add Schema Markup
Schema markup is another factor that increases your web page’s SEO relevancy and, more importantly, your images. That’s because, with schema markup, Google shows relevant badges to thumbnails that appear in each mobile image search.
For example, if you have a recipe page, Google will mark the image as a recipe if you have a schema markup in place. Same for pages that include products and videos.
However, schema markup is something you don’t have to worry about if you don’t have recipes, products, or videos on your page. Otherwise, make sure to add one as viewers often look for supporting badges by Google to identify what the website is trying to convey quickly.
9. Resize Images
When it comes to images for the web, you should find the right balance between resolution and image size. As you know, the higher the resolution is, the bigger the image’s size will be.
This is why we usually limit high-resolution images to print medium only because large file sizes can slow down page load time. And a delay in load time can decrease conversion rate and enhance bounce rates – ultimately leading to a lower ranking on the search engine.
Slow load time is specifically annoying to mobile users.
Ideally, large images or background ones should not be more than 1 MB, while small images should not exceed 300 KB.
So what should you do if your image size is larger than the optimal file size:
- Try resizing the image to reduce the file size.
- Reduce the resolution to a ‘web-friendly’ size. For example, Photoshop has a ‘Save for Web’ option that significantly reduces the file size to an ideal weight.
- Compress your images using free tools available on the internet without impacting the quality.
10. Use a Consistent Size and Style
Consistency is the key to greatness on a webpage. Use a consistent size of images for all your pages to make the layout look more organized. It will also help you align your text accordingly and create a uniform look in all your design.
It may also be a good idea to use a similar design feature in your images. For example, if you add pictures for an eCommerce platform, use the same background in all product images to maintain consistency.
Using the same hue of colors or adding a small logo to each image also establishes familiarity and user engagement.
11. Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching is the process when your images get stored in the visitor’s browser. As a result, they experience faster load time when they revisit your web page in the future.
For example, when you visit a webpage, the images and the content are downloaded from scratch. However, with browser caching, the visitor’s server holds on to some of the photos – thus speeding up the load time.
12. Add a CDN
Most websites serve their users from a single location. This means that if your servers are located in the UK, your data (including the images) don’t have to travel far to respond to someone’s query from the same region.
However, it will be a different story for someone in the USA as the target location is a bit far from your main server point. This is where CDN comes in. Short for Content Delivery Network, the system geographically distributes the files to be easily accessible from the server closest to the receiver.
When correctly set up, CDN can help your page’s load faster and, in turn, improve the load time and the user experience of the visitors.
13. Use Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is a process where the images are displayed when needed – i.e., as you scroll.
According to Google, lazy loading can significantly speed up a website’s loading time — especially if the page is lengthy and contains lots of images.
If you are using WordPress, you will have access to lots of plugins that will enable lazy loading on your page. However, if you are creating a website using another CMS platform, you may need to hire a coder to help you with the coding process.
14. Use a Sitemap
A sitemap is like a table of contents for your website and tells Google all about what the page contains. They are an essential part of SEO and should carefully include all data to ensure maximum ranking.
For the site map, make sure to include title, description, URL, location, caption, and copyright information for each image. If you add a video entry, include a thumbnail URL, a raw video file URL, and essential information.
15. Use Relevant Images
This should go without saying but using images relevant to the text. Rather than adding something completely out-of-the-blue, use images surrounded by relevant information.
For example, if your website is about education, adding an image of apple will not give you the SEO boost you need. Instead, add photos of teachers or students sitting on a desk to bring out relevancy to your website and its content.
16. Make it Mobile Friendly
With mobile devices being the most used medium for browsing, make sure the images you add are responsive. This means they should automatically fit to adjust the size of the screen.
So how do you do that?
The solution is to use an HTML code that tells the browser to load different versions of an image for different screen resolutions.
If you are using WordPress, the code is generated automatically. However, you will need to add a ‘srcset’ code to define the image size for different screen sizes for other browsers.
These were just some of the strategies you can apply to enhance your web page’s search engine friendliness. If you are struggling to get your site noticed by the search engine crawlers, try the above tips and see how your web page’s preference increases by search engine bots and visitors alike.