How to optimize images for SEO

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How to optimize images for SEO

If content is king to a blog, images are the queen. Without images your page just doesn’t pop, it looks unfinished and downright boring. Images bring your written content to life to your site’s visitors and provide visual breaks for your readers. I think we all can agree that images matter on the Internet today. Have you ever stopped to think about how a search engine bot interprets your images? If you’re like most people, the answer is no.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes made when posting images to your blog.

Using the right contextual image

First and foremost, when it comes to images, make sure they make sense and further your article’s message or story. You may use graphs, GIFs, or a landscape photo, the image should further your message to your reader. If it doesn’t make sense, you will have missed a big opportunity to share your image through Google Image Search and other image finding systems. When picking your image, remember, Google bot can “look” at the image, but doesn’t read the image. This means that any text in your image will not be searchable by any search engine bots. If you need text in your image, just understand the only one who will read that text is a person who has already made it to your site, or finds your image, off your site, through a Google Image Search.

Preparing images to use on your website

File names of your images matter

One of the most overlooked areas of image SEO is the file name itself. If you take images with your phone or DSLR your file name created by the camera will be something like IMG_1092.jpg or 2017-01-04_0919284.jpg. When your camera takes a picture it has no idea what is in the image, but you do! If you were to upload the image with the original file name to a bot it would look something like this:

http://www.yourURL.com/images/IMG_1092.jpg

Based on that code alone, do you think the bot knows what is in the image?

Now let’s say the image code looked like this:

http://www.yourURL.com/images/littlebear_pomeranian_dog_in_ugly_sweater.jpg

Do you know what is in that image?

Now this image name contains descriptions of what is in the image and the bot can now add it to the search parameters. The image name should always contain a keyword to describe the image and hopefully you have made that keyword match up with your page’s keywords.

@littlebear Pomeranian Dog in Ugly Sweater

Right size images BEFORE you upload

An often overlooked area of preparing your photos for your website is to Right Size your photos for your website before loading. Many Blogs automatically make different size copies of your image when you load them, but these will never be as good as making the files the right size for your website before loading.

Why does this matter? Download speeds. If you have a page that has all of your DSLR 6MB-10MB images on the site, and you link to these images you will force the browser to download these large files in order to see your website.

Russian Nesting Dolls Explaining Image Scale

Understanding Scale

Let’s say you upload a 2000 x 1500 pixel image (around 8.5 megapixels) but only use that image in a box that is 200 x 150 pixel (about 0.88 megapixels), which site do you think will come up faster? If you know where your image will be used on a site, scale your image prior to uploading and you know the image will fix exactly as intended.

Reducing File Size

Once you have the right scale, it is time to start thinking about file size. There are a bunch of tools to help with this. I tend to use the export function in PhotoShop. This function allows me to export images at various qualities until I find the one that looks right at my proportions. I rarely load images at 100% quality to the web.

Some other tools you can check out are ImageOptim or websites like JPEGMini or PunyPNG.

After you have uploaded the image, head over to YSlow and see if your image optimization succeeded.

Inserting images in your articles

Now you have picked out the perfect image for your article, you have named it, scaled it and sized correctly for where you want to use it in your site. Now it is time to put that image into your site. Make sure you add it to the content as close as you can to the related information in your article.

Alt text

The Alt text is an often overlooked area of inserting an image. The ALT text was originally used in HTML to take the place of images when an image would not load or in the case of someone being blind or unable to see your images. Put simply, the Alt Text ensures that no information or functionality is lost if your image is missing or does not load.  To a search engine bot, the alt text, in coordination with your image file name, helps it to determine what is in your image.

Also be sure to add the title text into the “img” tag to ensure total coverage by all browsers. Your title tag and alt tag can have the same text, without knocking your SEO score.  The title tag is also a way to add not critical information about your image like color tones, backdrops, secondary information, etc.

If your image contains text you would like search engines to see, be sure to include that text in your Alt or Title text.

Alt Image Tags

Your image checklist

Here is that simple checklist you are looking for with your images.

  • Use your own image or an image you have the rights to that matches your text
  • Pick the right descriptive file name for your image
  • Right Size your image dimension match the size as it will be displayed
  • Reduce file size for faster loading without losing good resolution
  • Always use image alt text, the title text is optional and can be the same as your alt text

Remember, images play an important role in the readability of your website by users and by the search engine bots. Take a little extra time up front to get some great payoff in the end.

2017-02-09T16:09:04+00:00 By |