A picture is worth a thousand words.
It’s hard to design, or even to imagine a website with no images. Despite the argument that images make a website heavy, it’s an open secret that they are important for user engagement, which is a key determinant of the website performance or search engine optimization.
Today’s blog is dedicated to the art of image optimization. Before you dive into it, it’s important to understand the following aspects.
What is image optimization?
Google or any other search engines don’t see the images as humans with a normal vision do.
Image optimization, sometimes also referred to as SEO image optimization, is attributing an identity and description to your image in the textual format which, in turn, helps the algorithm of the search engine and makes the site widely accessible. This web marketing technique also entails uploading images in the right dimension, format and size based on the guidelines of search engines. SEO image optimization is nothing but an attempt to democratize the Web.
Why is image optimization important?
Web pages with optimized images are crawled and indexed faster by search engines than the rest. You might have seen Google Search pulling out images from different web properties against your search query. The number of websites is nearing to 2 billion, according to Internet Live Stats, and they might be holding trillions of images, but you can’t expect Google or any other search engines to show all of those images on the top. Thoughtful optimization of images helps your website to gain a better visibility on the Web. It also enhances the user engagement and, ultimately, the user experience (UX), which contributes to conversion (user action).
Key Steps for Image Optimization
1. Use the right image meta data
What does image meta data include? It comprises of four components:
- Alt Text
It’s important that the Web crawler knows what the image is about. However, it must be told in a systematic fashion. Luckily, the content management system of a website is provided with image optimization window to help you describe your image well. Also, strike a chord with your audience by using relevant keywords, but keep it human readable.
a. Title – Add a suitable title in the title field describing your image. This title is used internally by WordPress or other web framework to sort images in the media library. Avoid using generic filenames like “image1.jpg”, “pic.gif”, “1.jpg”.
b. Image Alt text – This is a mandatory field as per HTML standards so it gets some attention. However, developers or marketers uploading the content often make a short cut here by keeping any arbitrary texts, stuffing keywords or pasting entire sentences in the field for the sake of complying with the standards. Remember, it’s important that you use the right keywords here as it’s is a ranking determinant in image search results.
c. Description – Again it makes little sense if you are not serious in describing your image. Like a photographer, narrate the story behind the image – name of photographer, when the image was taken, geo information, camera information, etc.
d. Caption – This is the visible text usually coming at the top or bottom of the image. The field can be within or outside the image border based on your theme. Add valuable information about the image. For instance, if it’s a picture of a monument and then your audience might be interested in knowing it’s year of built, the name of the architect, materials used and so on. The description is readable with mouse hover.
Creating an Image-Specific URL
You might have noticed a webpage or URL dedicated to an image, which SEO geeks called as slug URL. This helps with better indexing of the image in the search engine, and the probability of getting your images found against a search query increases manifolds with this. What’s the technique behind creating a slug URL?
Click “Edit more details” at the bottom of the image meta data fields (discussed above).
This leads to a page with the uploaded image. Now, there are multiple fields – title (on the top of image), along with caption, alternate text and description. If you have added any SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, you get an entire set of fields for placing keywords-enriched meta tags. The tool also evaluates the readability aspect of the textual content you place here.
2. Use images of the right dimension
Using images of the right dimension shouldn’t be confused with shrinking or stretching the dimension of the image by applying source code. The latter makes the image to appear of a smaller or larger dimension than its original version, but that overburdens your site with codes, which is detrimental to the website speed. Moreover, it also takes away the quality of the image. How to know what image size is right for me? The answer is simple. Take image container size into consideration while creating or buying images.
3. Use images of the right file type
Use Web-compatible file extensions like .jpg, .gif, or .png to save your image file. File types like .pdf, .psd, .tff, and .doc aren’t web-compatible and such images go unnoticed by Google or other major search engines irrespective of their quality.4.
4. Reduce the file size of your images
Google and many third-party tools are there to help you with. Decreasing the size of the image files, you can increase the page load significantly. This is highly desirable considering the diminishing patience of digital consumers. If it’s a business website, try to limit the file size to 500 KB for the best response.
5. Optimize your thumbnails
Many websites, particularly in the ecommerce space, use thumbnail images, especially on their category pages. In haste, often SEO beginners leave them unattended, which shouldn’t be the case. All the steps that you follow for normal images have to be replicated without any bias for them as well.
6. Use image sitemaps
Hope you found the information on image optimization useful. Comment your thoughts. For SEO consultation, feel free to contact us. We have experts and expertise to make your website gain the attention of your target audience and contribute to your business growth.