Guide On Proper Image SEO
Images aren’t used on websites strictly for aesthetic purposes; they provide real value by helping visitors better understand the meaning of the content. According to digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas, web pages with images receive 94% more views than their text-only counterparts.
Furthermore, images can help you achieve higher search rankings — but only if they are properly optimized. Search engines crawl images just like they do text. If your website contains lots of highly optimized, relevant images, you’ll have an easier time ranking in the search engines for your target keywords.
Choose the Right Images
First, you need to choose the right images for your website. If you’re publishing an article about the Grand Canyon, a photo of the Grand Canyon would obviously be useful. But if you’re creating an “About Us” page, consider using photos of your staff and business. Basically, you should choose photos that are meaningful and appropriate for the page on which they are published.
When choosing images for your website, it’s important to consider whether they are copyrighted or available under public domain. Even if an image isn’t watermarked with the photographer’s name or logo, it may still be copyrighted, in which case you cannot use it without the owner’s permission. If an image is available under public domain, however, it’s not protected under intellectual property laws; thus, you can use it for any purpose, including your website.
Images may also be licensed under Creative Commons, which generally allows for the distribution and use of copyrighted work. If a photographer wants to receive credit for his or her work, for instance, they may distribute their photos under Creative Commons license. Webmasters can then download and publish the photos, assuming they link back to the photographer’s website or photo source.
Create a Relevant File Name
Whether downloaded from an external source or created manually using a digital camera, many images have generic file names consisting of random letters and numbers. Some webmasters assume this is perfectly fine, since visitors don’t actually see the file name unless they download the image. While true, search engines do look at file names to determine the context of images; therefore, giving your images relevant file names can help with SEO.
Image file names cannot contain spaces, however, so you’ll need to separate words using hyphens instead. If you’re publishing a photo of the Bright Angel hiking trail at the Grand Canyon, for instance, use the file name “Bright-Angel-Grand-Canyon.jpg.”
For Windows users, you can rename images by right-clicking the file and choosing “Rename.” For Mac users, select the file and hit “Return” on your keyboard to enter renaming mode.
Granted, renaming hundreds of images can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s an important step towards optimizing your site for high search rankings. Just remember to use a file name that describes the image.
Choose the Right File Format
In addition to using relevant file names, you should also use the right file format for your images. Different file formats have different compression standards, color limitations and other nuances that can affect their quality and size.
• JPG: Created by Joint Photographic Experts Group, JPG supports up to 16 million colors and is best used for high-resolution photos, product images, and other high-quality graphics. However, because it’s a lossy format — it loses quality every time it’s saved — JPG should not be used for line drawings and logos.
• GIF: Created by CompuServ, GIF is a lossless format — it doesn’t lose quality when saved — that’s best used for line drawings, logos, icons and animated images. While only supporting 256 colors per image, GIF allows for 100% transparency.
• PNG: Created as a replacement for GIF, PNG uses lossless compression like its predecessor to preserve quality. The real beauty of PNG, however, is its support for alpha transparency, meaning you can set pixel transparency anywhere from 0% to 100%. There are two types of PNG: PNG8 and PNG 24. The former is limited to 256 colors, while the latter supports millions of colors.
Add Alt Text
Also known as the alt tag, alt text is an HTML attribute added to images as a placeholder for when the image fails to load. If a visitor’s web browser fails to display a particular image, he or she will see the alt text. This also applies to users with visual impairment and text-to-speech software.
The general idea behind alt text is to preserve the web page’s functionality and context, regardless of whether the image loads. Additionally, most digital marketing experts agree that alt text is a ranking signal used by search engines. By adding alt text that describes your images, you’ll help search engines associate your images with the keywords in their descriptions.
Here’s an HTML example of how to the use the alt text “Bright Angel hiking trail at Grand Canyon” to an image with the file name “Bright-Angel-Grand-Canyon.jpg:
<img src=”Bright-Angel-Hiking-Trail.jpg” alt=”Bright Angel hiking trail at Grand Canyon” />
Use a graphics editing program to resize your images before uploading them to your website. Images in their original, unedited format typically have high resolution. While higher resolution means better quality, it also leads to larger image files — and this can slow down your site’s load times.
To prevent oversized images from consuming too much bandwidth, shrink your images to the appropriate size before uploading them to your site. If you want to upload an image to a page with a width of 500 pixels, for instance, use a graphics editing program to resize the image down to a 500-pixel width size with the “constrain properties” option selected (this preserves the height by weight ratio).
Keep in mind that while WordPress and other content management systems (CMS) offer multiple image sizes, they still require visitors to load the original image. If you upload a 3,000px by 2,000px image to your WordPress site and choose the thumbnail size (150px by 150px), for instance, your website will show the image in 150px by 150px, but visitors will still load the original 3,000px by 2,000px size first. So, use a graphics editing tool to resize your images instead of relying on your CMS.
Shrink the File Size
Resizing isn’t the only way to reduce the file size of your images. There are image optimization tools designed specifically for this purpose, such as TinyPNG, Optimizilla and Kraken. While each of these tools works in a different way, they are all designed to shrink the file size of images.
These tips are designed to improve the SEO value of images. Whether it’s using the right file type or resizing in a graphics editing program, the real value is the positive effect image optimization has on your site’s visitors.
P.S. Wondering where to get started on your Digital Marketing campaign? Click here for the SEO report tool and see how you score.