Tips for Optimizing Your Images for SEO
You have probably heard the term image SEO before. Basically, it means optimizing your images for search engines so that they are easily recognizable by search engine crawlers and easy to find by users.
Image SEO plays an important part of search engine optimization and it’s a fairly easy way to improve your search engine rankings. The aim of image SEO is to optimize your images so they will rank highly in Google search results, which in turn will help you get more traffic to your website.
Read on for tips on how to optimize your images quickly and effectively.
What is Image Optimization?
When we talk about image SEO or image optimization, what exactly do we mean?
Essentially image SEO is following Google’s best practices when it comes to website images.
- The size of the image
- The name of the image
- The title of the image
- The alt (or alternative) text
The goal is to optimize all these things without affecting the quality of the image. This leads to a better user experience and quicker page load speeds.
What is the Difference Between SEO-Optimized Images and Non-SEO-Optimized Images?
Most business owners are not SEO experts and so they don’t know that they’re supposed to reduce the file size of images before uploading them to their site. Because of this, the majority of the images online have not been optimized for SEO.
It’s only when a business hires a digital marketing company (ahem, like us) that image SEO starts to get attention.
What are the Benefits of Optimizing Images for SEO?
Search engines use computer programs called spiders to collect data from websites and index it. Image optimization is an important element in search engine rankings. Images which are properly optimized can provide more information about your website and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for.
Here are a few of the benefits of image SEO.
- Improved Website Speed
- Better User Experience
- Increases Time on Site
- Improved Search Performance
- Increased Rankings
- Increased Traffic
Tips for Optimizing Images for SEO
Image SEO Tip #1: Use Copyright-Free Images
- When uploading images to your website, it is important that you only use images that are copyright-free. This means that you’re allowed to use the image and that someone else doesn’t hold the copyright for it.
- If you randomly choose images from Google Image Search and start adding them to your site, eventually you’re going to get sent an email from a person or a company who owns the copyright to one of the images that you’ve used.
- If this happens, the best-case scenario is that you either credit the owner and move on. Or you remove the image from your site and replace it with a copyright-free image. But the worst-case scenario is that you’ve taken an image from Getty Images or some other large firm who are continually on the hunt for people stealing their copyrighted images.
- The fines from the illegal use of images could end up costing your company tens of thousands of dollars.
- Pixabay is a good site where you can find copyright-free images. You can also filter through Google’s own images and select to only show ones that are copyright-free.
- The best copyright-free images are, of course, ones you’ve taken yourself. They are more natural, show your company in a more real light and you don’t have to worry about one day getting an email from Getty’s lawyers saying that you owe $36,000 for the illegal use of one of their images.
Image SEO Tip #2: Use Good Quality, Unique Images
Images are extremely important to search engine optimization. Your images need to be good quality as they represent your brand. High-quality images improve the user experience and great imagery increases the time users spend on your site.
Images with a high quality, unique, and eye-catching design will help your site’s page rank higher in the search engines. Stock images are better than no images but photos that you took yourself or had someone take for you are much better.
Remember that you don’t need to hire a photographer – just take out your phone and make a point to take a couple of pictures a day while on the job.
Image SEO Tip #3: Optimize Image File Names
- Try to add your main keyword or a variation of it when you’re naming the images before you upload them to your site.
- Most webmasters leave the names of the images as whatever their camera named them (ie. DSC1000.jpg) or whatever the file name was when they downloaded the image from a stock photo site. Not good.
- Essentially, you’re looking for a keyword-rich filename that is short and sweet but also describes the image. Eg. “custom kitchen in Victoria.jpg”
Image SEO Tip #4: Resize Your Images
- The larger the images that you upload to your site, the more they will impact the speed of your website. A page with a dozen 10mb images is going to take some time to load…too long.
- The majority of images can be reduced in size and still look as sharp as the original. That’s because the largest image size that you really need for a website is around 2000-2400px. Anything beyond that is just overkill and is only going to slow down your site.
- Reduce the size of files before you upload them to your website. Yes, site builders like WordPress and others resize your images for you, but they are creating alternate sizes of images and not actually resizing the original image. This means that your original image is still 10mb even though the size of the image showing on the webpage is only 250px wide.
Image SEO Tip #5: Pick the Right File Format
JPEG/JPG and PNG are the most popular file formats for webmasters.
- The main differences between JPEG/JPG and PNG is that JPG images allow EXIF data – essentially data about the image such as author, location, size, description etc – that’s embedded into the file, while PNG does not.
- The second difference is that JPEG uses a lossy image compression format to maintain image quality, while PNG follows a lossless compression technique.
- While lossy compression results in a smaller file size, lossless compression allows for restoration to original size. See more about the differences between lossy and lossless compressions here.
- Perhaps the most important distinction to webmasters is that PNG allows for a transparent background, making it a popular choice when creating imagery for your blog or social media channels.
Image SEO Tip #5: Optimize the Image Title
The image title tag is the first thing that a browser displays when it loads an image.
- It’s important to optimize your image titles so they contain your main keyword and are as descriptive as possible.
- An easy way to do this is to use the same name as the keyword optimized filename that you created in the previous step.
Image SEO Tip #6: Write SEO-Friendly Alt Text
The purpose of image alt text is to describe the images to people who are unable to see the image. The image alt text gets read out by screen readers for these visually impaired individuals.
- Although meant to help the visually impaired, image alt text also plays a role in SEO. You want to write the alt text in a way that includes your main keyword and also describes the image at the same time.
- The easiest way to do this is to ensure that you write a great keyword-rich filename for the image and then copy/paste the filename as the title of the image and as the alt text.
Image SEO is often a neglected aspect of an overall SEO strategy. By properly optimizing your images, you can gain more traffic through Google images in addition to contributing to the overall seo-optimization of the page the image appears on. Get more traffic and higher rankings by following the above image SEO tips!