Images make your content come alive. Not only do they bring color to your site, they also eliminate that boring look that drives visitors away.
But they can do much more than beautify your content. They can equally drive tons of sweet organic traffic to your website.
It’s even more important to drive traffic from images when you are running an eCommerce site, photography website or an entertainment blog.
Actually, every website should drive traffic from images. But this can only happen when your web images are SEO friendly.
Have you ever wondered why your web images never show up when you do a Google image search?
Or you are confused about terms whether to use Alt Tags, a JPEG or PNG image, or you simply don’t know what tools to use to optimize your images.
This article is going to provide answers to your questions and even more.
And now, we will be diving into the world of SEO image optimization to discover how to optimize images for the big guns like GOOGLE, BING, and Yahoo.
Are you ready? Here is how to get this done:
How to optimize images for web
1) Know your Image formats:
Maybe you are confused about the correct file type to use for your images or you simply don’t understand what the various image extensions represent. Not anymore.
There are three major image extensions or formats available to use on the web, JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
JPEGS are probably the most popular file types you will find on the web.
They are easy to compress without losing so much of image quality.
The problem is they don’t support transparency. And that is why they are bad candidates for logos or transparent images.
That said, using this format is beneficial because it keeps file sizes to a minimum and search engines love that.
PNG files allow for many more colors in the file than JPEG and GIF files. The file format supports transparency, and as such often used for logo images.
The downside, however, is that PNG images are heavy and difficult to compress optimally.
An image with a PNG version will be almost thrice as large as the corresponding JPEG format.
Nonetheless, these file format is useful and there are image optimization tools for reducing this file size optimally.
GIF is a bitmap image format commonly used for simple art and animations.
It offers much lower image quality than a JPEG image and is best for small decorative images and icons.
It also supports transparent backgrounds but when image animation isn’t your goal, it’s better to stay off this file type.
It’ll make your post less attractive to read, as reading will be interrupted by the movement of the image, of course.
2) Use the right image:
Whatever image you choose to upload on your site must be relevant to the content.
If your content is about kittens, then no one wants to see a rat. And you can’t use just any kitten, your visitors want to see that sweet lovely furry kitten that makes them fall in love over again.
You can choose to use images of your own, buy stock images or find free stock images to avoid copyright issues.
⇒ Stock Images
Finding images for your content is serious business and it has to be done carefully. You can’t simply use Google Images to find an image, then post it on your article.
You might get away with it 99% of the time. But once a copyright suite comes knocking, that’s an expensive lawsuit waiting to happen.
The better option is to find stock images online and pay for them. These images don’t have to be expensive.
Shutterstock is a great place to start finding paid stock images.
For those of us who hardly pay for images, then your best bet is to find stock images for free.
Services like FreeDigitalPhotos, MorgueFile, Pixabay, Freeimages, Public Domain Archive, Unsplash, etc. provide stock photos for free.
Any of these sites can be used to obtain images. You can equally visit some free image hosting sites to get copyright free images.
The downside to using stock images is the lack of uniqueness that it brings to your site. Too many websites are cluttered with the same generic stock photos.
While stock images are way better than random images on Google, they don’t offer the same SEO benefits as original, high-quality images.
⇒ Create Your own image
It would be even better if you could produce original images for your articles.
Using unique pictures in your article provides a better experience for users and this increases your chances of search ranking.
You can choose to outsource this job to a designer or you simply purchase a good camera and take good photos yourself.
You have the added benefit of sites like Canva and PicMonkey which work well for non-designers. These are great platforms for creating custom images.
They both offer lots of pre-made templates and cool fonts and also support the simple drag and drop feature, thus guaranteeing image customization.
High-quality original images allow you to stand out in the search results and that’s the way to go.
3) Use Colorful Images:
Your images should be sharp and clear. Attractive images earn more clicks on the search engines than old looking blurred images that look like a piece from the 18th century.
Humans like colors and when it isn’t colorful, it should at least tell a story. Bright colors capture our attention because our brains are wired to react to them.
Moreover, high quality and beautiful imagery are great for SEO. Consider that a post on social media accompanied by a creative image is 10 times more likely to receive engagement.
Don’t use images that are overly grainy, blurry, dark, or washed out. Get creative with your images.
4) Optimize your image size:
We are getting into the more technical stuff.
Image size is important in determining the loading time of your site and speed (as you probably know) plays an important role in search rankings.
Fast loading images also provide good user experience. If you have images that take forever to load, you can kiss your customers goodbye.
And that’s why you want to minimize your image size to less than 100Kb. It can be less.
The great thing is that there are so many tools that will reduce image size without sacrificing quality.
With editing tools like Photoshop, Picnik and Image Optimizer at your disposal, there’s no excuse.
One way you can reduce image file size is by using the “Save for Web” command in Adobe Photoshop.
Using this functionality, you can resize an image from 1.38MB to 86k and still not sacrifice quality.
We also recommend using tools like ImageOptim or websites like JPEGMini, PunyPNG or Kraken.io.
For WordPress users, Shortpixel is a popular image optimization plugin that can reduce your image size by as much as 56% in a single click.
These image optimization tools can help to resize and compress your images. Some are absolutely free, so you need not bother about cost.
5) Give your images a name:
Have you ever come across images on the web that are titled/named using numbers?
That’s a terrible way to do SEO image optimization. Don’t upload your images with the default name or numbers given them by your device.
Most digital cameras save pictures using generic names like IMG_1234. This will not fetch a single wave of traffic. Images should receive a descriptive and relevant name.
Let your keyword be present in the name. That way, people can find your images online.
It’s so simple: if your image is about the best gifts for Valentine, the file name shouldn’t be DSC9422.jpg, but best-valentine-gifts.jpg.
The main keyword would be valentine gifts, as that is the main subject of the photo. Notice that keyword is at the beginning of the file name.
6) Use ALT tags:
Alt tags (short for “alternative text”) help the search engines to associate keywords with your images.
Usually, it serves as a text alternative to your images such that when they can’t be rendered, the alt tags are displayed. But the SEO benefit cannot be overstated.
Your Alt tag should be descriptive, short and contain your keyword. Avoid keyword stuffing because this can earn you a penalty from Google.
The Alt tag is not only used for SEO, but is also useful for the visually impaired (it will be spoken to them).
It is required under the American Disabilities Act that you add Alt tags for individuals who are unable to view images themselves.
To add the ALT text in your image code, simply add alt=”this is your alt text”. Here’s an example on how to do that.
For example, say you have a picture of chocolate on your website. The alt text could read:
However, a better alternative text that describes the image would read:
alt=”dark chocolate coffee flavored bar”/>.
Changing your alt and title tags in WordPress is very simple, as you can see in the example below.
Now all you need to do is add your alt tag in the space provided. You don’t need to add any HTML.
Simply right plain English.
7) Make use of captions:
Image captions are those descriptive texts that are usually below images and they describe what the images represent.
And why are they so important? It’s been said that captions under images are read on average 250% more than the body copy itself.
They do not have a direct impact on SEO but they provide good user experience. So, If readers indeed love captions, then give it to them.
8) Use an image sitemap:
Sitemaps help search engines to understand site structure. This enables the crawlers to correctly index web content without missing out on anything.
It is important to submit a sitemap to Google, BING, Yahoo, etc. if you are yet to do so. It is even more important that you have an image sitemap or add image information to an existing sitemap.
This way, search engines will have the necessary information to index images on your site.
The following example shows a sitemap entry for the page
http://example.com/sample.html, which contains two images.
xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset< span=""> xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:image="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1"> http://example.com/sample.html http://example.com/image.jpg http://example.com/photo.jpg </urlset<>
You can list up to 1,000 images for each page, using the syntax outlined in the example above! Visit here for more info.
For WordPress sites, the WordPress plugin, “Google XML Sitemap for Images,” automatically creates the sitemap for images uploaded to your WordPress Media Library.
9) Your images should be social media friendly:
Your visitors should be able to share your images on popular social media platforms, especially facebook, twitter and Pinterest. The easiest way is to add social sharing buttons to your site.
For WordPress users, there are so many image sharing plugins like SumoMe’s ImageSharer plugin.
It adds Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yummly icons to your images. This will drive image sharing on your site.
It is particularly important to allow your users share your images on Pinterest.
Since Pinterest is an authority site for images, the images shared on the network are more likely to get indexed and ranked in search engine results.
The other thing is to add Facebook Open Graph code and Twitter cards to the section of your page’s HTML. These codes will cause your social shares to perform much better.
This is easier to achieve for WordPress users running the Yoast SEO plugin.
Now that you know almost everything about SEO image optimization, it is high you got to work.
Pay more attention to the file name and alt text of your images. They are the most important image optimization tips.
I would also recommend that you add your images to your sitemap. What good are images that don’t get indexed by Google?
Well, they could be good for user experience, but a little extra traffic isn’t such a bad idea.
And remember, optimizing your images for search might provide that much desired edge over your competitors.