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.
Also, ADA Compliance has become a more prevalent issue in today’s digital world. By adding descriptive ALT tags, you are also adhering to ADA guidelines and limiting the risk of your business being sued. It only takes a few seconds to add an ALT tag when uploading your images and we recommend taking the extra time to do so!
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 optimize images you’re using on other platforms to help your website rank better.
Size Down Images Appropriately
Finally, image size can play a huge part in your site’s SEO performance. The main factor image size affects is website speed and Google has emphasized site speed as one of the key factors for improving SEO and overall rankings. You want your images to have the same dimensions as the place the image is going to reside. For example, the average width of a slider image is around 1200 pixels so you wouldn’t want your image to have a width of 2200 pixels upon uploading. It is always best to resize images to the appropriate dimensions before publishing them to your site. By using image files with the smallest possible ratios, you are removing weight from your site and improving its speed. This optimization tip is especially important for large e-commerce websites that have hundreds or thousands of product images.
Here’s an easy way to find out the size of an image without going into the backend of your site:
- Right click on an image and select “Inspect“
- Google’s Inspect Tool will appear and you can scroll over the section of code that is highlighted as shown below.
- You will notice two ratios: The image size actually being used and the intrinsic size that was originally uploaded to your media library.
- If these two ratios differ drastically, you should re-upload the image so that your intrinsic size is similar to the actual image size.
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.