Image optimization is more important than ever, whether you’re posting to your own website or social media pages. Research indicates that people are more likely to share images than text. However, if you want to get the most leverage out of your images you must optimize them. SEO for images is now just as important as it is for written content. This makes it more likely that Google will recognize your content and index it.
Here are 5 easy and actionable tips for image optimization:
Optimize Your File Name
One of the most fundamental tips for optimizing your images is to choose the file name carefully. A common beginner mistake is to use the default file name for an image, which might be something like IMG_8234. This type of filename is meaningless for SEO purposes. Instead, you should rename the file into something descriptive and unique. If it’s a photo of a dog, for example, you might name it Yorkie.jpg, or whatever might be appropriate. Optimizing your file name and alt tags makes it easier for search engines to index your content, which in turn makes it easier for searchers to find your images when they’re looking online.
Use Descriptive Alt Tags
Alt tags are essential for ensuring your images are visible to search engines. These are tags you add to your images with descriptive information. You should use relevant keywords and include as much essential information as possible in your alt tags. If you’re describing a certain product, be sure to include product, model or serial number data in your alt tags. On the other hand, don’t over-optimize your alt tags with excessive or redundant words. Your alt text should only apply to the specific image in question. Back to our dog photo example:
A good use of Alt tags would be “Yorkie Playing in the Yard”
A bad use of Alt tags would be “Yorkie – Young Yorkie – Yorkie Puppy” <– that’s just too much!
If you use WordPress, plugins such as SEO Friendly Images automatically add Alt and title attributes to your images. This will help save time, but you’ll still want to check to make sure the alt and title attributes do in fact represent the images you’re using.
Reduce File Size
Large image files slow down page loading time and can negatively affect your SEO. Gigantic image files can also cause you to lose traffic because impatient visitors don’t want to wait for your pages to load. You can prevent this problem by reducing or compressing large image files. There are many ways to address this issue. First of all, you can seek smaller images to begin with. If you want to reduce a large image, however, there are tools that let you do this. If you use Adobe Photoshop, you have the option of reducing the file size under the command “Save for Web.” If you use WordPress, there are several plugins that will reduce image size, such as Resize Image After Upload or WP Smush. There are also web-based solutions that let you resize images for free, such as tinypng.net.
Use Unique, High-Quality Images
Many people understand the value of unique written content but don’t realize that the same principle holds true for images. If you use stock images that are freely available online, it’s likely that many other websites are using the very same images. This will make it harder for your image to rank well. Using unique, high-quality images helps you rank better and also makes your content stand out more than if you use generic looking stock photos.
Of course, it takes some extra time and expense to create unique images. This requires you to take your own photos, hire an illustrator or do your own graphic design. If you want to improve your image SEO, however, it’s worth it. If you don’t have the time or resources to create your own unique images, search for high quality images that have a distinctive look. You can find these on Flickr Commons, Unsplash and Public Domain Archive, among other places.
Use the Appropriate File Format
You want to make sure you save your images in the proper file format. The most common formats are JPEG, PNG and GIF. All of your images should be saved in one of these formats. JPEG is the most popular format and is almost universally supported. On the other hand, it’s not ideal for larger and higher quality images. PNG has the advantage of being able to store text descriptions of your images, which is good for SEO. GIF is a format that’s appropriate for animation and very simple images such as clipart.
Do you have any easy and actionable tips for image optimization? Please share in the comments below!