Website optimization should be taken seriously due to multiple reasons, notably because the majority of visits and interactions take place on mobile devices. The trend is predicted to rise in the future, too. That’s why, on top of SEO efforts directed to content, images should also be optimized.
On top of that, think in terms of Google image search, which is more popular than many believe, especially in terms of online shopping.
Google Rules Supreme
It’s not a secret that Google changes the rule of the game on a regular basis, but what is constant is – quality content. Contrary to popular belief, reputable authors always rank well – a well-deserved protection from the army of re-writers taking a shortcut to popularity. In line of that, just a couple of SEO touches will do wonders in terms of your website’s long-term success.
Talking about images, Google image search generates 27% of overall daily queries, with the new image interface supporting website visits as opposed to the previous practice of image display. As a result, websites are witnessing increased traffic, making quality, SEO-optimized content even more important.
But, the importance of images doesn’t end just there. Namely, Google is developing a plethora of new image recognition tools (e.g., Google Lens and Reverse Image Search). The giant is also adding advanced features, the most notable of which is shoppable ads on Google Images.
So, how does one optimize images?
It’s done in a similar way that content is optimized. The process comprises a number of steps, including: proper image naming, proper image description format, dimension and size, and supporting content.
A proper title of an image is similar to a proper blog post title in that it features a keyword (or more than one, separated by hyphens and no stop words). The next step is adding alt and title attributes, which should provide a context to the image.
As regards the image size, remember that it directly affects the loading time of the page, and then remember what we said about mobile visitors at the beginning of the article. Staying under 100 kb is a good tip to follow.
The first format choice is, therefore, JPEG, as it displays smaller images that still retain its original quality. PNGs are recommended for transparent backgrounds, while GIFs are suitable only for small animations. However, remember that GIFs are limited to only 256 colors.
There is no general rule when it comes to image dimensions, except that they should not exceed the average desktop screen resolutions (usually 2,560 pixels in width). If they do, they will not be displayed properly, since images adjust to the screen size by default.
Be Careful With Image Compression
It is crucial that images are high quality and yet not too large, as to avoid them affecting the loading time. For that reason, many choose compression as a desired method to boost overall website performance, but the strategy should be used with care.
Using CSS or HTML to reduce pixels is not a good idea because even though the image will become smaller, it will retain its original file size.
Therefore, it is recommended to use compression tools, of which there are many to choose from. We’re not fans of universal recommendations, hence we will list only some of the most popular choices (but note that you should do your research yourself): Smush, TinyPNG and GIMP.
Finally, you may choose to upload the same image in different dimensions. Then use the <img srcset=””> attribute (or use a plugin) to choose which ones to display and when.
Sick of Content Suggestions Yet?
We believe you might be. Wherever one looks nowadays, everyone seems to be an expert on content! And while it is tiring to read and re-read the same recommendations over and over again, it is important to remember that stellar content truly makes a difference.
All the difference, we might add!
Quality content helps websites rank on the first page of search results, even with the invasion of paid ads.
Remember what we said about images supporting the content?
If image search brings new visitors to your web page, it is important that what they find there corresponds to their query. Randomly placed images serve no purpose at all. Clickbaits may serve to attract new clicks, but building brand visibility and reliability comes with time and loads of continual, quality content.
To illustrate: if the image shows a product, the page should be about that product (description, benefits, pricing and so on).
Tracking Image Performance
To keep track of how images help your website rank better, use Google Search Console (other tools are also available, but this one is the first choice for the majority of people, due to the ease of use and accessibility).
Tracking the success of an image in Google Search Console is performed in this way:
- Log in to your Search Console
- Select Performance Report
- Set the search type to “Image”
- Click “Apply”
The search results shown in this way provide insights on clicks, queries, CTRs, pages, impressions, devices and countries. Note that they don’t show image file names but only the pages they are featured on. We’d say that’s the only downside of Google Search Console. As of yet, it doesn’t differentiate between different images on a page.
- Images are optimized in much the same manner as content, except the process is easier and faster.
- Use keywords separated by hyphens in image titles and descriptions.
- Do not use stop words (articles, prepositions, etc.).
- Add alt and title attributes to provide context to the image.
- Brainstorm supporting content – the page where the image is displayed should be relevant and follow up with quality information.
- Do not use CSS or HTML to reduce pixels as the image will retain its original file size.
- Use a compression tool such as Smush, TinyPNG or GIMP.
- Track the success of an image in Google Search Console.
As you can see, once you memorize these steps, image optimization will become a piece of cake. Many people include their website name in image descriptions so that their page will rank better. Be consistent, provide quality content and quality images that don’t take ages to load, and the results are certain to follow, and follow fast!