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8 Simple Steps to Image Optimisation for SEO

cover image of 8 simple steps to better seo through optimising images

A well-optimised image on your website can be a game-changer.

Images are more than just visual aids; they are pivotal in attracting and engaging your audience, and very important in boosting your site’s presence on search engines.

A report by HTTP Archive suggests that images make up on average 21% of a total webpage’s weight. So, getting your images right not only enhances user experience but also plays a significant role in improving your website’s loading speed—a key factor in SEO ranking.

1: Understanding the Role of Images in SEO

Images do more than just make your site look good, they are an integral part of how your website communicates with search engines. A well-optimised image can enhance your site’s visibility, drive traffic, and even improve rankings. Here’s why:

Enhanced User Engagement: Images are instant attention grabbers. A captivating image can keep visitors on your page longer, reducing bounce rates—a factor search engines consider when ranking sites.

Improved Page Loading Speed: Large, unoptimised images can significantly slow down your page load time. According to Google, as page load time goes from 1 second to 10 seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing increases 123%. Therefore, optimised images are critical for maintaining a swift, user-friendly site.

Better Image Search Ranking: With the advent of visual search technologies, there’s an increasing trend of users searching through images. Properly optimised images have a better chance of showing up in these searches, leading to more traffic.

2: Choosing the Right File Format

Essentially, there are only 3 types of image format that you should have on your website.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): Ideal for photographs and images with a myriad of colours. JPEGs can be heavily compressed, which significantly reduces file size without a noticeable drop in quality. This format is perfect for product photos and real-life images.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics): Best for images that require high quality and less compression, like logos or images with text. PNGs support transparency, which is great for overlay effects. However, they are typically larger in file size compared to JPEGs.

WebP: A modern format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. Using WebP, webmasters and web developers can create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. In fact, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs, and WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images, as stated by Google Developers.

For instance, use JPEG for larger, colourful images where file size is a concern, and PNG for images where clarity is paramount. Hence, shoosing the right format is a balance between quality and load time.

3: The Art of Image Compression

Effective image compression reduces file size while maintaining quality, crucial for speedy page loads and improved SEO. Here’s how to do it right:

Understand Compression Types:

  • Lossy Compression: This reduces file size by removing some image data permanently. Ideal for JPEGs, it’s great for large photos where a slight loss in quality isn’t noticeable.
  • Lossless Compression: This compresses without losing any data. Best for PNGs or when you need crystal-clear graphics.

Use the Right Tools: Tools like Adobe Photoshop, TinyPNG, or ImageOptim can compress images effectively. Many of these tools offer a balance between image quality and file size.

Optimise for Web Use: Ensure images are not larger than they need to be for their intended use on your site. Resize the dimensions to fit where they’ll be displayed. An image that’s 5000 pixels wide is overkill for most web uses.

Regularly Test Image Quality: After compressing, check your images to ensure they maintain a level of quality that represents your brand well. Remember, the aim is to strike a balance between file size and visual quality.

As per a study by the HTTP Archive, the median webpage size is about 2 MB, of which images account for nearly 21%. By compressing your images, you can significantly reduce your website’s loading time, enhancing user experience and SEO.

4: The Power of Alt Text

Alt text (alternative text) is a crucial component of image optimisation, serving two main purposes: accessibility and SEO.

Accessibility: Alt text describes an image to people who can’t see it, like visually impaired users or if the image fails to load. It’s a crucial part of web accessibility, making your content inclusive.

SEO Benefits: Alt text helps search engines understand what your image is about. This increases the chances of your images appearing in Google Image Search, which can drive more traffic to your site.

How to Write Effective Alt Text:

  • Be Descriptive: Clearly describe what’s in the image. If it’s a product, mention specifics like colour, size, or model.
  • Use Keywords Wisely: Incorporate relevant keywords that align with your content strategy. However, avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Keep it Short and Sweet: Aim for brevity while being descriptive. Typically, 125 characters are enough.

For example, instead of ‘img001.jpg’, use alt text like ‘Blue Nike running shoes size 10’. This gives search engines and users alike a clear understanding of the image content.

With the right alt text, your images can significantly contribute to your site’s SEO strategy.

5: Naming Your Images Wisely

Here’s how to name your images effectively (and win points on SEO):

Descriptive and Clear: Use clear, descriptive names for your images. This helps search engines understand what the image is about and improves its chances of appearing in relevant searches.

Use Keywords: Include relevant keywords in your image file names. This should be done naturally and in context. For example, instead of ‘image1.jpg’, use ‘homemade-chocolate-chip-cookies.jpg’ for an image of cookies.

Keep it Simple and SEO-Friendly: Avoid lengthy file names and complex characters. Use simple language and separate words with hyphens (not underscores) as search engines read these better.

Consistency is Key: Maintain a consistent naming convention across all your images. This not only helps with SEO but also with organising your site’s media library.

For instance, a business selling handmade candles might name an image ‘scented-soy-candle-lavender.jpg’. This is direct, informative, and includes keywords relevant to the product.

By carefully naming your images, you increase their discoverability and relevance, which can boost your website’s SEO performance.

6: Making Images Responsive

In today’s digital landscape, where browsing happens across a variety of devices, responsive images are non-negotiable. They ensure that your images look good on any screen, from smartphones to large desktop monitors.

Adapting to Screen Sizes: Responsive images adjust in size based on the viewing device. This prevents large images from overwhelming small screens or small images from being too stretched on larger ones.

Implementing Responsive Design: You can use HTML and CSS techniques to make images responsive. The srcset attribute in HTML allows you to specify different image files for different screen sizes. CSS can be used to control image dimensions and ensure they scale properly.

Benefits for SEO: Responsive images contribute to a better user experience by ensuring faster loading times and appropriate display. Since user experience is a ranking factor for search engines, this directly benefits your site’s SEO.

For example, a responsive image setup might include a smaller image for mobile views and a larger, higher-quality image for desktop views. This ensures that all users have an optimal viewing experience, regardless of their device.

Responsive images are not just a technical necessity; they are a crucial part of making your website accessible and user-friendly, directly impacting your SEO.

7: Enhancing Visibility with Image Sitemaps

Image sitemaps are a powerful tool for ensuring that search engines can find and index all the images on your website, enhancing your visibility in image search results.

What is an Image Sitemap?: It’s an XML sitemap dedicated to listing all the images on your site. This helps search engines locate and index your images, which might otherwise be missed, especially if they are loaded with JavaScript or are part of a slider.

Creating an Image Sitemap: If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, there are plugins that can automatically create and update your image sitemap. Alternatively, you can manually create one following the guidelines provided by search engines like Google.

Benefits for SEO: A sitemap makes it easier for search engines to crawl all the images on your site. This is especially beneficial if your site is image-heavy or if you rely heavily on visual content to attract visitors.

Submission to Search Engines: After creating your sitemap, submit it to search engines through their respective webmaster tools. This is a key step in ensuring that your images are considered in search engine indexes.

For example, a travel blog with lots of destination photos can greatly improve its online visibility by using an image sitemap, ensuring that those engaging images are found by potential travelers.

Next, we’ll discuss the importance of regular testing and monitoring of your website’s performance.

8: Regular Testing and Monitoring

Consistently monitoring and testing your website’s performance is crucial to maintain and improve your SEO efforts, especially when it comes to image optimisation.

Importance of Regular Checks: Regularly checking your site helps you identify and fix issues like slow-loading images, which can negatively impact user experience and SEO rankings.

Tools for Monitoring: Utilise tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, or Pingdom. These tools provide insights into how your website performs and offer suggestions for improvement, including image optimization.

Analysing Image Performance: Pay attention to the size of images and their impact on page load time. Look for recommendations on image compression, resizing, and other optimization tactics.

Staying Updated: SEO and web performance best practices are constantly evolving. Keeping abreast of the latest trends and technologies in image optimization is crucial for maintaining your site’s competitiveness.

For example, a regular check might reveal that some of your older images are not compressed properly. By updating these images, you can significantly reduce page load times, enhancing user experience and SEO.

Conclusion

Optimising your images is not just about enhancing your website aesthetically; it’s about improving your site’s overall functionality and search engine visibility. By following these steps, you can ensure that your images contribute positively to your website’s SEO performance.

Remember, in the dynamic world of digital marketing, staying proactive and informed is key. If you need further assistance or a more tailored approach, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.


Vincent MC Ng face

Vincent (MC) Ng

Written by Vincent (MC) Ng., founder of Clickiris Digital Marketing, this post stands as a testament to his passion for sharing knowledge and building connections. A certified marketing strategist and Google certified digital marketing and E-commerce marketer, Vincent is an ardent advocate for the digital transformation of small to medium-sized businesses and he is focusing on empowering SMEs growth and discover new opportunities through digitalisation.
Connect with Vincent on Linkedin

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