11 March 2017

Image Optimization For SEO

If you’re at all interested in the marketing world or having a presence online, you will no doubt be familiar with SEO (or Search Engine Optimization). In order for Google to give your website recognition and visibility, it is critical that you have your on and off-site SEO on lockdown. Unfortunately, many content creators often neglect to take images into consideration when performing their optimizations.

If you aren’t actively incorporating images into your content, you certainly should be.

According to BuzzSumo, including an image every 75-100 words in a blog post has been shown to dramatically boost blog traffic and net you twice the amount of shares for your article.

In addition to strengthening your online content and making it more compelling, images are an essential part of any good website’s SEO strategy. When properly optimized, they will bring in more visitors and improve load times, making people stay longer.

Why wait any longer? It’s time to start optimizing your images for SEO!

Finding The Right Images

The first step to a good image optimization strategy is finding the right images to use on your page. It should go without saying that the images you choose need to be relevant to your content. As you can imagine, having an image of a ribeye steak on a page about vegetarian recipes would likely lead to confusion and possible outrage.

Now That We’ve Established That Images Need To Be Relevant, Where Do You Find Them?

When selecting images for your website, it’s important to make sure that they are paid for or copyright-free to avoid any legal issues. Luckily for many of us, there are a lot of great sites out there to help you find free-to-use for your content such as Pixabay. Looking for some more examples? A quick Google search will find tons of options that offer royalty-free images but they tend to have somewhat mixed results for quality.

If you want a slight jump in quality and a wider range of choice you might opt for a paid image licensing service such as Adobe Stock or iStock. One of our favorite WordPress plugins to help you find high quality images is Pixel Rockstar.

File Format, Size And Name

Once you’ve found your desired source for images, it’s time to consider what file format you should be using for them.

Generally, you want to use one of three formats: JPEG, GIF or PNG. If you’re thinking about using SVG as a format, check out what SecuPress has to say about it. Apparently, although the format is great from a performance standpoint, there are still a few security issues that remain.

  • JPEGs are good for more complex images and photographs. This should be your go-to format for the most part.
  • GIFs are better for small icons, simple images and animations.
  • PNGs should be used for images that have transparency or fading but be careful using these for more complex images as the file size can be quite larger than a JPEG.

As for file size, you should be aiming to reduce it as much as you can without giving up too much of your image quality. This will speed up load times on your site and prevent users from abandoning ship. There are many online tools that will allow you to resize images.

When naming your image file, it should be relevant and contain your keyword. If you have an image of red Lamborghini on a racetrack, your file name should be something like red-lamborghini-racetrack.jpg rather than the default RSD8765.jpg.

ALT And Title Tags

Probably the most important considerations in optimizing your image SEO are the alt and title tags. These tags can be thought of as a description of an image for someone incapable of seeing them (in this case, search engine robots).

Your HTML code for an image will look like this:

<img src=’file-name.jpg” alt=” alt tag description” title=”title tag” />​

Good alt tags should be short, clear and descriptive.

Your tags should be SEO-friendly but avoid going overboard with keywords. A careful description with one instance of your keyword is ideal.

For example, in women’s fashion, “Burberry merino wool women’s cardigan” is far better than “women’s cardigans”.

The point here is to let the search engine understand what your image and page content is about as precisely as possible so it can rank in image searches. Title tags hold far less weight than alt tags and are generally only used for added context.

Image Sitemap

Did you know you can submit a dedicated sitemap file to Google? Using an image sitemap will help provide search engines with additional information regarding the images on your website. This can be done by adding image information to your regular sitemap or creating a new sitemap specifically for images.

With your images concentrated in a single directory, it will be easier to stay organized. One big added benefit is that it will increase your chances of being discovered in search results.

Final Thoughts

Following these basic practices for image SEO will help you bring in more traffic. It should always be part of any effective on-site strategy. The ultimate goal of any good website is to provide a remarkable user experience. Just remember: it’ll be hard for users to find your content if you don’t optimize for search engines first.

Don’t miss the boat for image optimization and make it part of your overall SEO strategy today!

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