Are You Optimizing Images on Your Website?
No, we don’t mean their resolution or the way they’re cropped. We mean optimizing images for SEO to bring more visitors to your website and increase your brand awareness.
While high-quality images are undoubtedly an important aspect of a user’s experience, images can be an equally great tool for bringing in more visitors in the first place and so it’s vital that your SEO strategy addresses rich media. Images bring in new visitors in two ways. First, images provide an additional avenue for users to find you outside of regular web searches. If social media’s strong emphasis on photos is anything to go by (and it is definitely something to go by), then image searches are becoming an important avenue for reaching key segments of your audience – if not your entire audience. Second, the metadata associated with your images provides additional ways to incorporate your best keywords into your page which, in turn, boosts your ranking in regular web searches, too.
As optimizing images is not as prominently discussed as other aspects of SEO, and given the ease of optimizing your images with a few simple steps, images is another avenue in which you can rise above your competitors to reach your audience.
What are those simple steps? Keep reading and we’ll explain.
Improve Your Image File Names
Use file names for images that are readable, descriptive and ideally contain your target keyword. For example, “IMG001.jpg” or some other meaningless string of text won’t mean much to Google, however, a file name like “16-Ounce-Grumpy-Cat-Coffee-Mug.jpg” is much better when optimizing images because it helps Google know exactly what you’re selling and is going to help reach enthusiasts of cats, coffee or both.
Since file names act as a part of a URL, it’s important to still follow the best practices for optimizing URLS for SEO:
- Use hyphens to separate words. Do not use underscores, spaces, or any other character to separate words.
- Be as descriptive and as brief as possible.
- Keep keywords in a URL to two or less.
If you’re already using a keyword in the main part of your page’s URL, inserting your keyword once into the file name for your image should be enough. As with all other rules of SEO, remember to write relevant descriptions to both improve your file names and to…
Improve Your Image ALT Attributes
ALT attributes, or ALT tags, provide alternative text in place of an image if the image cannot be displayed for some reason. For example, if the product image for the Grumpy Cat coffee mug does not load, your visitor would see a description in its place such as: “16-ounce beige porcelain coffee mug featuring the popular Grumpy Cat meme is perfect for Monday mornings in the office breakroom”. When it comes to optimizing images, rich descriptions such as this provide multiple opportunities to target different keywords and phrases.
Since Google cannot “see” an image, it uses the information in an image’s ALT tag in order to understand the content of image and ultimately draw better conclusions about what your page is about. This makes the ATL tag a helpful place to include one of your keywords, especially if it fits the image or if you can fit the image to the keyword.
Utilize Backlinks and Social Media
Pinterest, the prominent social media platform dedicated to photo sharing, recently announced that it has over 150 million users worldwide and that number is expected to keep growing. As a platform that strongly encourages image tagging, optimized descriptions, and other key pieces of metadata, Pinterest is ideal for not only sharing your organization’s method through another avenue but also drawing more visitors to your website.
The key is backlinking.
Does this mean stuffing social media with low quality photos, inappropriate tags, and misleading descriptions? Of course not; but it is a sign to be more thoughtful about how you can optimizing images you’re using on other platforms to help your website rank better.
Size Down Appropriately
Large images are often times the culprit of slow loading website pages. If you right click on an image, then click “inspect element” and mouse over the file name of the image, you will be able to see if the image is sizing down or not. Sizing down is another step in the page load that can be avoided. On top of reducing a step in the load process, you will also reduce the size of a page by having a smaller image. So if you’re optimizing your images for speed, you’re also doing your SEO efforts a favor, because speed is huge for user experience!
If any more proof is necessary to justify optimizing images, Google has issued its own recommendations regarding the best practices for images. Images provide not only a dramatically better user experience but also additional opportunities for better SEO.
While this article only scratches the surface of ways you can optimize images, the suggestions provided are changes that you can begin today. The challenge isn’t the work – it’s starting. Whether you’re beginning SEO for the first time, have years of experience, or are anywhere in-between, webFEAT Complete can guide you through any stage of the process. Contact us or below to schedule a consultation.
Also published on Medium.