As the digital world becomes more visual, images play a critical role in attracting and retaining visitors. Scroll-stopping and captivating images are something that can help keep your visitors glued to your web page or blog post.
But that’s the second step. First, you need to get those visitors on your page! Did you know that images also hold the key to improving your search engine rankings? Yup, we are talking about image SEO.
I’ve received a lot of queries recently related to these, with readers asking questions like “How to name images for SEO?”, “How to do image SEO” and “What are the best tools for image optimization for SEO?
So it’s time to pull back the curtain on image optimization and unveil the secrets of image SEO. This game-changing skill will not only boost your online visibility but also leave your competitors scrambling to catch up.
Let’s delve deeper.
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What is Image Optimization?
Ever wondered what the secret sauce is behind captivating websites that load quickly and keep users hooked? Well, that secret sauce is image optimization! This powerful technique is all about crafting and delivering top-notch images in the perfect format, size, and resolution to amp up user engagement.
It also involves smartly labeling those images with metadata so that search engine crawlers can decipher them and grasp the context of your page.
Did you know, Image Search contributed to almost 20% of web queries on Google? And that number has likely soared even higher in recent years, making images the heavyweight champs of website content. That’s why optimizing your images is crucial – they play a massive role in your site’s performance.
The trick is to shrink your images without losing quality, leading to lightning-fast page load times and an unbeatable user experience. And the cherry on top? This optimization can boost your search engine rankings, skyrocketing customer engagement, conversions, and retention.
But how can you ensure your images are easily findable by Google crawlers and are not making your website sluggish and slow-moving like those dinosaurs? Let’s find out!
Pro Tips for Image Optimization
Let me be very clear; there’s no magic wand for image optimization that will up your SEO game the night. But if you follow these Pro tips for image optimization and stick to them for a while, you will clearly see amazing results. Let’s check out what steps you can take for SEO image optimization:
Choose the Perfect Image File Format
A Recipe for Success Navigating the world of image formats can feel like stepping into a new culinary universe. But before you add those mouthwatering visuals to your site, you must ensure you’ve picked the best file type for the job.
With a myriad of image formats at your fingertips, PNG and JPEG reign supreme in the digital realm. Here’s the lowdown on these two popular formats:
- PNG: Delivers stunning image quality but comes with a heftier file size.
- JPEG: You might sacrifice some quality but can tweak the settings to strike the perfect balance.
WebP also deserves a shoutout as the only image format endorsed by Chrome and Firefox, offering lossless and lossy compression.
For me, PNG is the unsung hero of image formatting. My go-to strategy is to start with PNG and then convert those files to WebP. There are tons of tools and plugins available to convert PNG to WebP or JPEG to WebP etc, check which tools work for your use case.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Avoid using .jpg images within an inline SVG format, as Google can’t index them.
Compress, Compress, Compress – Image Compression!
Nobody likes a bloated web page, and an uncompressed image is a recipe for disaster.
Search engines view an unoptimized page like a bucket of questionable fast food: You’re not seriously considering putting that on your site, are you?
As per HTTP Archive, images contribute a staggering 21% to a webpage’s total weight on average. That’s why I can’t recommend enough image compression before uploading them to your site. You can compress an image in Photoshop is a popular choice, but you could also try a tool like TinyPNG.
If you’re a WordPress user, TinyPNG has a plugin for you. Personally, I’m a fan of the EWWW Image Optimizer. It shrinks the image file size without compromising quality, and you get three options for compressions:
For a few years, we have even used Imagify, one of the best and quick plugins that convert all your images into WebP and start displaying WebP images on supported browsers.
Following are our handpicked image compression tools:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Compress Now
And here are our notable image compressor plugins for WordPress:
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Imagify – Automated Image Compression
A WordPress plug-in that enables one-click compression of the images on your website, improving the load times automatically.
But whichever plugin you choose, opt for one that compresses images externally on their servers to reduce the burden on your site. There’s just something irresistible about faster page speed!
You can also Level up your game with an image CDN that detects devices and optimizes images before delivery. Bynder and ImageKit.io are two fantastic options.
Pro-tip for image optimization: To check how your images impact your page speed, give Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool a spin.
Stand Out with Unique Images
You want your visuals to dazzle and captivate your audience. Stock imagery might be convenient, but it can make your website look as generic as thousands of others.
Ditch the overused stock photos. Instead, create unique, high-quality images or click photos on your own, that enhance user experience and boost your chances of ranking in relevant searches. You can use tools like PicMonkey or Visme or Venngage or Adobe Firefly or Microsoft Designer, by following Google’s advanced SEO recommendations, also try to avoid using your own logo as the main/featured image.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Remember, Google Discover loves large, original images (at least 1200px wide).
Craft Compelling Image File Names
In the realm of SEO, whipping up descriptive, keyword-rich file names is an absolute must.
Leaving your image file name unchanged is like munching on an empty burrito – a major letdown. Image file names serve as signals for Google and other search engine crawlers to grasp the subject matter of the image.
Often, file names resemble something like “IMG_404021,” which is as helpful as a menu in an alien language. Renaming the default file name aids search engines in understanding your image and enhances your SEO value.
It might take some effort, depending on the size of your media library, but renaming default image names is always worth it. If you are wondering how to name images for SEO, you’ll have to brainstorm a bit for starters.
Pro-tip for image optimization: For instance, if you have an image of a car, avoid generic file names like “car-1” or “car-2.” Instead, opt for something more descriptive, like “white 4-wheel drive car,” to guide users and search engines alike.
Pen SEO-Friendly Alt Text
Alt tags or Alt attributes provide a text alternative for images when browsers fail to render them. Similar to the title, the alt attribute describes the contents of an image file.
In cases where the image doesn’t load, an image box displaying the alt tag will appear. Ensure your alt tags align with the image, make it relevant, and describe it well for disabled users.
Attending to alt tags also enhances your overall on-page SEO strategy. While it’s essential to have all other optimization areas in place, alt tags offer context when images fail to load.
Moreover, adding suitable alt tags to your website images can improve search engine rankings by linking keywords with images. Even Google acknowledges the significance of alt text in images.
Alt text is mandated by the American Disabilities Act for individuals unable to view images. A descriptive alt text can inform users about the photo’s content.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Let’s say you have an image of “aircraft” on your website. In this case, try using something like “yellow twin-rotor aircraft” for better alt-text optimization.
Make Your Images Mobile-BFFs
Ah, mobile SEO! It can be a roller-coaster ride, with highs of better rankings and improved user engagement or lows of high bounce rates and sad conversions. So, how do you make your images shine in the mobile-first index?
Well, obviously, with mobile-friendly image optimization. Here, Google’s got your back with some guidance on best practices for images. The secret sauce? Responsive images, my friend. They play nice with any screen size, whether your users are surfing on a desktop or mobile, adjusting to fit the device like a glove.
Mozilla serves up a fantastic guide on using the srcset and sizes attributes to give browsers extra source images, ensuring a flawless display of your image content resized for any device.
The trick is to format this with a different part of the attribute value on each line.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Implement srcset and sizes attributes for optimal image adaptability, ensuring a pixel-perfect display on every device in the mobile-first world.
Nail Down Your Image Dimensions
Whether you’re rocking AMP or PWAs, you must define your image dimensions in the source code. But hey, even if you’re not using either, setting the width and height is still a solid practice to keep your user experience smooth and groovy.
Setting dimensions lets browsers size the image before the CSS party starts, keeping those pages from jumping around during the loading process. Plus, defining image dimension attributes keeps those pesky Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) issues at bay, ensuring your Core Web Vitals optimization stays on point.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Include width and height attributes for every image and video element to prevent content shifting and maintain a low CLS score. It’s a win-win!
Optimize Page Title & Description
Google also discloses that page titles and description factor into its image search algorithm.
Make sure all your basic on-page SEO elements, such as metadata, header tags, page copy, structured data, and more, are in place to impact Google’s ranking of your images.
Think of these elements as the flavorful toppings on your pizza – everything’s better with a dash of guac. So, don’t forget to add that extra layer to elevate your image rankings.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Craft compelling and keyword-rich page titles and descriptions, as they directly influence image search rankings, giving your visual content a competitive edge in search results.
Give Your Images a Sitemap Spotlight
Whether you’re adding your images to your current sitemap or rolling out the red carpet with a new image sitemap, your images deserve some sitemap love.
Adding images to a sitemap boosts the chances of search engines crawling and indexing your visual content, leading to more traffic to your site.
Pro-tip for image optimization: If you’re a WordPress fan, Yoast and RankMath have got you covered with sitemap solutions in their plugins.
Consider Image File Structure
Google updated its Image Guidelines, revealing that file path and name influence image rankings.
For example, if you’re a furniture brand with multiple products, avoid placing all product images in a generic /media/ folder. Instead, structure your subfolders based on categories like /office furniture/ or /home furniture/. This will ensure Google’s crawlers can easily find what a user is looking for.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Strategically organize your image file structure with category-based subfolders, enhancing Google’s understanding of your content.
Bring Structured Data to the Party
Structured data adds some extra pizzazz to your content types, guiding Google and other search engines to deliver eye-catching visual results. If you play your cards right with structured data for images, Google might just serve up your images as a rich result.
For instance, if you’re using schema markup on a product page and label the image as a product, Google could pair this image with a price tag. In this case, search engines skip the algorithm and use the info from the structured data to display the perfect image.
Pro-tip for image optimization: Leverage schema markup on your images, enabling search engines to better understand and showcase your visuals as rich results, driving improved visibility and attracting your target audience.
Be Mindful of Copyright
When selecting images, always keep an eye out for potential copyright issues. Unauthorized use of copyrighted images can result in expensive lawsuits.
Ensure you have a license to use the images you choose, or else you risk violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and facing a takedown notice.
Google Images lets you filter results based on reuse permissions. So stay in the clear and keep your website visually stunning!
Pro-tip for image optimization: There are tons of stock photography sites to choose from, recently we have used Freepik to get some of the best images, vectors, and graphics.
Mastering Image Optimization for SEO
And there you have it, folks! We’ve uncovered the secrets of image optimization for SEO, and now it’s time to put these insights to work. By taking the time to fine-tune your images and make them shine, you’re not only boosting your website’s performance but also reeling in that sweet, sweet traffic.
So, go forth and conquer the world of image SEO, and watch as your site climbs the search engine ranks. Happy optimizing!
I hope this guide on image optimization for SEO will help you in your quest to dominate the ranking on Google. You can also explore our website for more detailed reviews and guides. Till then, happy ranking!
What are the best file formats for web images?
The most common web-friendly formats are PNG, JPEG, and WebP. Each has its own advantages in terms of quality and file size.
How can I optimize image alt text for SEO?
Use descriptive, keyword-rich alt text that accurately represents the image content, making it accessible and relevant for both users and search engines.
Why is it important to compress images for SEO?
Compressed images reduce page load times, improve user experience, and contribute to better search engine rankings.
How can I make my images mobile-friendly?
Implement responsive images using srcset and sizes attributes to ensure your images display correctly across different devices and screen sizes.