Working on your SEO is great, especially when you achieve positive results. However, you also need to consider your site’s images and how you can optimise them effectively for SEO.
Adding images to your blog or article will help readers better understand the content and create a visual appeal to your content. Images complementing text can show up as data or graphs that give further detail to your statements or aesthetic images that can illustrate your topic and complement the content.
When implementing images to your content, you need to consider if Google has a vision for the future of image search. Using images can help provide some traffic to your site. If you have visual content, considering SEO for your images should be a priority.
What is image optimization?
Image optimization is when you create and deliver high-quality images and adjust the image’s size and resolution to increase user engagement. To start right, you need to label images accurately with metadata to make this readable for a search engine crawler. This accurate labelling also means the crawler can better understand your page context, positively impacting search engine rankings, customer engagement, conversion rates, and customer retention.
When you reduce the size of images (without compromising the image quality), you will notice a difference in page load times and improved user experience. Optimizing your images also means they take up less storage space on your server, resulting in faster completion of site backups.
Name your images correctly
When naming your image, consider how the name relates to the image. For example, you can’t upload a dog photo with the caption blackcatimage.jpg as this will cause more confusion than good. We advise you to try to make your file name as descriptive as possible, so it’s easy for google to understand. Just ensure you don’t end up keyword-stuffing.
File names and alternative text
Alternative text (alt text) is the text that describes an image, which is picked up by browsers and displayed to users. These are also known as alt tags and alt descriptions.
The alt text is a written copy that appears in place of an image if the webpage fails to load. This text also helps screen-reading tools describe the images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to crawl better and rank your website. Optimizing your website’s image alt text is your golden ticket for a better user experience for visits, regardless of how they first found your site.
Reduce the file size
It’s important to remember that image size and file size are not the same things. Image size refers to the dimensions of the image and the file size refers to the amount of storage space the image currently takes up.
Images with a high resolution and larger dimensions can slow down your page loading time, which is why it’s a good idea to reduce the file size and compress your image. However, ensure image quality is maintained, as low-quality images can affect your site performance and look messy on the page.
Save image to the appropriate format
The formats of PNG, JPEG and FIG each have their benefits for image SEO. The best file types you can go for online are JPEG and PNG.
A PNG file will give some of the best quality images, which is extremely important for a good-looking site. Using low-quality images looks bad and can negatively impact your site’s performance.
The sad thing about using a PNG file is that they are considered a larger file size. However, they do work with your image’s original background transparency. JPEG is an excellent choice as it won’t take up as much space as a PNG. The quality of a JPEG image works very well for bigger images but won’t give as high quality for smaller images.
Optimize image file names
Name your image to get the most SEO power. You can also name your files with descriptive keywords, separating them with hyphens to adhere to metadata formatting.
Some things to avoid include using underscores. Sadly, these are unrecognisable by the search engine, and it won’t see the words individually.
File names should make sense to both the search engine and humans. For example, if the original name for an image of a dog with a ball is dog1234, rename it as dog-with-ball.jpg. Viewers may understand the image, but a crawler needs some clues, and without an alternative text, they can’t index your image content accurately.
Mobile friendly Responsive Images
With google searches on mobile devices becoming more common and Google’s algorithm using mobile-first indexing, the crawlers mainly look at the site’s mobile version. This means your images should be mobile-friendly too. The key is ensuring your images and website layout are adaptable to different viewing devices.
Optimize the image title
WordPress usually takes the image title from the file name. However, if you don’t use WordPress or the title isn’t explaining the image, you will need to update it with the appropriate keywords in the same way as file names. Image titles are less critical regarding SEO but can provide additional context to the alt text.
The words directly beneath images may not impact your SEO but can add to the website experience. Adding captions ultimately improve user experience and engagement metrics, so implementing them is beneficial.
Using stock photos is completely fine. However, using primary source images is better. In the same way writing an original unique piece of content is better for SEO, so is uploading unique images.
Text needs to complement images
An image should boost a user’s understanding of the topic you are writing about and should complement the overall topic to enhance the point you are trying to make. If the image does not stand well alone or just with a few words, consider expanding the description of the image.
Create an image sitemap
You may want to consider creating an image sitemap. This is a file that contains all information about the images on your website converted into a format that Google can easily go through. Usually, this sitemap includes essential information about the image, such as the format, caption, and title.
The benefits of using a sitemap are that it makes your website more crawlable and assists your images in appearing in Google search results.
Sitemaps are important as they inform search engines about your pages and the structure of your site. To ensure the crawlers notice every image on your site, whether an infographic, meme, thumbnail or video, include them in your sitemap.
Utilize schema markup
Schema makeup may be relevant for image SEO. The reason behind this is that Google shows all relevant badges on the thumbnails in mobile search results. Google supports four types of markups: products, recipes, videos, and GIFs.
Ensuring your images show these badges in Google’s image searches is easily done. You just need to add the right schema markup to the page.
- Add recipe markup to recipe pages.
- Add product markup to product pages.
- Add video markup to pages with videos.
It’s likely that Google is supporting badges for these types as they’ve recognised that users often look for such content within a google image search.
Image SEO can be confusing and complex, and it’s essential to know these are just a few tips and tricks that could help boost your image SEO. If you can read Google’s documentation about automating image optimization, which has more than 15,000 words, you certainly can. Alongside this, ensure you consider that images should be high-quality and contribute to a great user experience. This means avoiding low-quality stock photos, making any product images expandable etc.