Image optimization is one of the most critical (yet forgotten) steps to take under the SEO umbrella. Working with many Technology companies, Xeo Marketing noticed optimizing images isn’t always on their website development checklist. If this is the case for your website, the article is for you.
We all know that heavy images slow down a site. And speed is a significant factor for SEO. In fact, website visitors expect the pages to load swiftly. If it doesn’t, they will not wait around and immediately click off the site.
Statistics confirm that 53% of consumers will abandon a mobile site if it fails to load within 3 seconds. Google research also shows that the probability of a bounce increases by 32% when the page load time spans from one to three seconds. Consequently, it increases 90% when the load time falls between one to five seconds and a whopping 123% when a site takes longer than 10 seconds to load.
Losing this staggering number of traffic can ultimately result in fewer conversions and less profit for your website. Google also measures site speed when it crawls sites and rewards fast sites with a higher SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking.
This is where image optimization becomes a critical part of your SEO strategy.
What Is Image Optimization?
Image optimization requires delivering high-quality images in the right format, size, dimension, and resolution to maintain user engagement. The process refines the visual files to lighten the server space, speed up load timings, and lessen the burden on network resources, such as mobile data plans.
It also includes accurately labelling the pictures so search engine crawlers can easily identify and understand page context.
As a result, your site will experience fast loading, excellent user experience, and improved visibility.
In this article, let’s discuss some of the best ways to optimize images for SEO.
Add Names to Your Images
It is essential to descriptively name your images with relevant keywords to rank your image on search engines.
Crawlers don’t only index your text, but they also search for keywords within your image filenames. Therefore, the name of the image file will help search engines determine what the picture is about.
You should also include a keyword that you are trying to rank for when writing the image file name.
For example: If you create an infographic in a Managed Security landing page, you can name the file “Cybersecurity Trends 2021.jpg” instead of leaving it as the default “IMG4809.jpg.”
Choosing the Right File Format
The proper file format of the image also plays an important role. These days the most popular formats are:
- JPEG: You can adjust the quality level of the image as per your requirements. The biggest advantage of using this format is that it keeps file sizes small. If you don’t need images with transparent backgrounds, JPEG is an ideal format.
- GIF: It is used for short and simple animations with a limit of 256 colors. However, it does offer reduced file size and transparent background to simple image files.
- PNG: PNGs can be an excellent alternative to both JPEGs and GIFS. It comes with large file size, but PNG produces a much better image than other formats. It supports transparency and has an automatic gamma correction ability.
- SVG: The SVG files are ideal for logos and icons. This is because these files are light and work well with visuals that have simple illustrations and limited colors.
Consider the role of the image on your site, and then decide the type of file format that will fit the image best.
Compress the File Size of Your Images
The heavier the file, the more time it takes to load. And the viewer will easily find an alternative if the web page takes time to load.
This is one of the prime reasons you should compress the file size before uploading it. There are standard photo sizes that you should follow when using pictures on a digital platform.
WordPress has plugins enabled that will help you automatically compress graphic files on your website. You can also do this using Photoshop or the TinyPNG tool.
Another way to shorten the delivery time of pictures is by integrating a Content Delivery Network (CDN). With this process, the cached versions of your images will be stored in multiple geographical locations. They will be delivered to the viewer from the nearest point when they request. As a result, the images will load faster.
Create Image Sitemaps
By creating a sitemap, you’ll help the search engine robots find your website images and index them better.
Commonly, websites already have sitemaps. If you are using WordPress, it automatically generates the sitemap for the content page.
You can tell search engine crawlers the location of your images by including more data in your existing sitemaps.
All you need to do is to include more data in the current sitemaps so you can tell the search engine “crawlers” the exact location of your images.
Add Image Captions
The image caption is a text that appears under the pictures. They help point out who is in the photograph or describe what is happening.
According to Google’s guide for Image Best Practices: “Google extracts information about the subject matter of the image from the content of the page, including captions and image titles.”
They are also helpful for the users as it makes the page scannable. A study found that captions are read 300% more than the main context itself. It will also keep the visitors on your page longer and reduce the bounce rate.
When writing the captions, keep them clear and concise. Generally, two to three sentences are sufficient to relate the information in your post.
Adding alt-text is another way to enhance images for SEO. It is one more part of the page that you can use to signal the search engines.
You will have to set the alt-text for every image that you upload on your website. It will show up in place of your picture if the browser has trouble loading it for some reason. The alt-text will also help the visually impaired users who are visiting your website via a screen reader.
When the user hovers the image, over they will see the alt-text, as well.
Make sure to continually update the alt text for your images. You can add your focused keyword for the page and something descriptive about the photo itself.
Be Aware of Copyright
Copyright is one of the most common issues found in the digital world. The rule prohibits website owners from using a photo that is owned by someone else without permission.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) can serve you notice if you are violating any copyright rule. The consequences of not following the law can also result in serious legal action that includes fines and penalties.
So you have to be very careful that the content or the images you are uploading are unique and not copied from anyone.
The best way to avoid the issue is to use custom images that you have shot yourself. You can also take help from stock photo agencies, but make sure you follow their licensing rules.
There are various sites to get high-quality images for free, but you also need to optimize them for search engines.
You should never neglect the importance of image optimization, as website traffic is also dependent on this factor.
Give the above techniques a try and find a drastic improvement in the search engine visibility of your website. If you need a hand with developing or designing your website, Xeo team is happy to help!