Search engine optimization so often focuses on writing, but a well-rounded SEO strategy needs to include image optimization. This is especially true as digital communications continue toward more and more visual content. With (at least) several images on every page, missing out on image optimization means leaving a massive amount of SEO potential on the table.
Building an attractive, user-friendly website requires extensive use of images. They help to clarify your purpose, provide a break from text-heavy content, and capture the style of your brand. In short, pictures are good for the real people who visit your site.
And that should always be the primary focus of your website – reaching real people who can become real customers for your business. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO, just that you need to have your priorities straight.
Images are primarily for your customers, but they can also be optimized for SEO without too much effort. Today, we’ll cover four ways to make sure that your pictures are reaching both people and bots with your message. All of these tips are pretty easy, and they go a long way toward ensuring that your page is ranking for your targeted keywords.
The first step toward image optimization is intelligently naming your files. Chances are when you upload pictures from your camera, they come with names like IMG180125.jpg. That can work for internal organization, but a search engine bot will have no idea what that means.
So, you should name your images with descriptive terms in plain English. Before you upload any images, remain them with clear, keyword-rich names. This keyword strategy can be simple (naming your images based on their content) or advanced (including possible keyword variants based on KW research). But either way, a clear name will help Google understand your focus.
Optimizing your image sizes involves walking a delicate balance. Too small and your images will look sloppy. Too big and you’ll slow down your load time. Pixelated images will make your site look sloppy or unprofessional, while a slow site speed will make for a bad UX and even hurt your search engine rankings.
If you have some skills in Photoshop, you can reduce the picture file size with the ‘Save for Web’ command – but still do an eye test to make sure they look good. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can use an open-source app, such as GIMP, or have your graphic designer do it for you. In general, you should try to keep your images below 70kb – but that can vary depending on your needs.
Alt tags provide a text-based alternative to the images on your page. Their primary purpose to provide context for those who cannot view the images – because of either disability or their browser settings. However, alt tags have come to serve an SEO purpose as well.
As with file names, alt tags help to provide context to an otherwise unreadable image (for search engine bots). Because you already have a file name, the alt tag is a great place to target long-tail keywords and lesser used variations. Just remember that the alt tag should accurately reflect and the image and not just be a place where you throw a pile of keywords.
The file type can have a serious effect on the quality and size of your images. Typically, there are three file format options for your images: JPEG, GIF, and PNG.
- JPG: This format is the most common you will find on the internet. They are a great middle-of-the-road option for most images you’ll use, but there are a few drawbacks. First, a JPG loses quality when compressed (but generally not in a noticeable way). Second, they can lose detail around fine lines and letters. And third, they do not support transparency.
- GIF: This format is not used regularly. For most people, the only use of a GIF is due to its support of animation effects. Animated GIFs are popular – and can add life to your site – just don’t overdo it.
- PNG: This format has many advantages: it allows for more colors, it supports transparency, and it does not lose quality when compressed. However, those advantages come at a cost: file size. A PNG, when compared to a similar JPG, can be over three times larger.
There’s Always More
As usual, we’ve only scratched the service here. There are also considerations of captions, title tags, image sitemaps, schema markups, and more. But SEO is a journey and you must start somewhere. The steps I’ve laid out above are a great place to start. And if you’re in a less competitive market, it might be all it takes to see SEO success.
There are two ways to use this list. First, you can go back to your existing images and bring them in line with SEO best practices. You might not check every box on every image, but there is still value in doing what you can. Second, you can make sure all your images are optimized going forward. With this second method, you can check every box and you’ll see your rankings on the rise.
Fusion Group USA provides SEO services to businesses of all sizes. From shops needing local SEO optimization to larger corporations needs more traditional SEO services, we have plans that fit every need and budget. SEO is our passion – and we’d love a chance to share that passion with you! Contact us today to learn more about our extensive SEO services.
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