Image optimization can help create a better user experience of your website and boost your search rankings.
Adding images to your website content is a solid tactic to make it more appealing to your audience. The next priority is to optimize your images for SEO (search engine optimization) to ensure the best web performance.
Optimizing your website images can help improve the user experience and speed up page loading times. Just as critically, it creates additional ranking opportunities to boost your SEO by allowing your content to show up via Google Images (how Google understands and displays images for searchers).
Search engines can’t “see” or understand your images the way human readers can. If your photos aren’t optimized, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to boost your visibility in front of your target customers.
Why are images important for your website?
Visuals can make your website content more engaging for readers, keeping them on the page longer and helping them remember what they’ve seen.
Images make your content easier to read by breaking up long text passages. They help draw the reader’s eyes down the page, so they don’t lose interest. Carefully selected images help your audiences understand what they’re reading and why it’s relevant to them.
How do images help SEO?
High-quality images and informative content work hand in hand to improve your website performance, helping search engines discover your content and understand what audiences will find valuable.
Images add context to your content. They allow you to insert information in the backend of your website that offers clues to website visitors, search engines and accessibility supports like screen readers.
If you haven’t optimized an image, it could load too slowly for impatient readers and it may not load in some browsers or it may fail to load when a user’s Wi-Fi signal isn’t strong enough. On the other hand, an optimized image will load quickly and become a valuable resource that can increase the chances that search engines will show your website to users.
Another critical consideration is Google Images, which allows people to discover helpful information on the internet through the visual elements of a page. According to the Mozcast Feature Graph which tracks changes in major search engine results page features over time, 41 per cent of Google search results now show images.
Searchers could always find images under an “images” tab on the search results page, but Google now shows them prominently at the top of the main page. They’re an eye-catching search result that can pull traffic from other sites including yours.
How to optimize images for SEO
You’ll need to take a few steps to optimize your images for SEO. Most aren’t that complicated, which is good news for busy marketers and business owners. The trickiest part is consistency.
Once you have established a routine, go back and tackle images that weren’t optimized when they loaded to your website in the past. They could make it harder for users and search engines to find your site, so it’s worth getting them sorted.
10 steps to SEO-optimized website images
A quick summary of the task ahead: you’ll prepare the images first, choose the correct format, resize them
, and then optimize them as you load them into your website’s backend. This will help users and search engines understand what each image represents and its relevance.
1. Choose the right image
Select high-quality images that enhance your website content. You can take photos, buy stock photos, or create visual designs and charts. Keep important information in the text on the webpage not on an image. A screen reader won’t help if essential details or instructions are in the text on an image.
2. Organize filenames from the beginning
The filename of an image becomes the image title on your website, so you may as well organize this from the first step. It will help you sort and search images in your source files and your website’s backend. Descriptive filenames will be useful once you store hundreds of photos, so don’t skip this step.
3. Select the appropriate image format
Images can be stored and shown in different formats on your website. For example, depending on where and how you’re using the image, you may select a JPEG, a PNG or an SVG file. Each will offer different benefits, from file size to whether or not the background is transparent.
4. Compress your images
You can compress images for your website using Tools if you’re using a Mac, the Paint application on a PC, Photoshop, or online resizing tools such as TinyPNG or Optimizilla.
5. Write SEO-friendly alt text
Every image on your site has a short piece of written text entered in the backend called alt text. You may also hear these called alt tags and alt descriptions. Alt text helps search engine
s “crawl” or read your website, so it knows what types of searchers want content like yours. This text will also explain what an image represents if your photo doesn’t load or if the page is being read by assistive technology like a screen reader. The alt text should include your target keyword and a clear image description.
6. Include a caption
A caption is a bit of text visible to the reader that appears with an image on your website. Some people are willing to dive deep into your content and will understand why you’ve included a particular image. Others may simply skim your content to see if it’s relevant to what they were searching for, and captions on your images can help them quickly scan for what they need and follow the context of your content.
7. Choose where to add your image
When you add an image, you’ll need to decide what location on the web page will best showcase it. Ideally, you have a picture near the top of the page to help draw a reader in. Other images should appear where they are most relevant to the content, so you don’t confuse searchers who land on your page.
8. Make your images mobile-friendly
Mobile users search Google images more than desktop users. Therefore, you’ll want to prioritize SEO if you rely on mobile users for much of your web traffic. Images that are resized and optimized will load faster for mobile users. Google has ample resources on responsive images to help you get this step right.
9. Consider local SEO
You can geotag your images so you show up in local search results. This additional exposure benefits businesses that support a particular geographic area with a service, such as a pizza restaurant with local delivery.
10. Don’t forget the user experience
Optimizing your images for SEO can help increase your visibility for users searching for the content you offer. Your goal should be to enhance the user experience, not game the system to attract traffic that isn’t a good fit for your site. With each step, consider if you’re making your website more valuable to your audience.
Taking the time to optimize images for SEO by following these steps is a worthwhile investment that will help you reach website visibility and traffic goals. Image optimization strategies increase visibility, drive better website performance and increase SEO rankings – all critical when marketing your business.
Want to get on track with your image optimization? We’re happy to book a consultation to discuss the best approach for your business. You can also download our Search Engine Marketing Handbook to learn more.