Images can help enhance your content, improve user engagement, and even increase leads for your business. But, they can also slow down your website if they are not managed or optimized well. Image SEO can help images perform better on your website without negatively affecting user experience and can help people find your image assets online as another way to connect with you. Here what’s you need to know and some tips for better image SEO:
What is Image Optimization in SEO?
Image optimization or Image SEO refers to all of the actions taken to make images as accessible, crawlable, and indexable for search engines as possible, especially for image search. The practice is meant to optimize images to help them support other SEO efforts and to give them a better chance of showing up in image searches in search engines.
Good image SEO improves user experience on websites and also makes it easier for search engine crawlers to understand and interpret image content. In addition to an SEO boost in both image results and regular search results, it can also help images drive traffic to your website and make them more valuable to users on your website.
How to Optimize Images For SEO
Image optimization is important to your website. Plus, with proper image optimization, your images online can become valuable SEO assets for your brand. Here are a few tips to help you optimize images for SEO:
1. Check Your Image File Types
Some file types are better in some situations than others. File types are one of the differences between web design and print design. When it comes to images on the web, PNG and JPEG are usually the most common and can be converted into WebP for better performance. SVG is another file type that is usually reserved for icons and logos.
PNG files tend to be larger files and produce higher-quality images. With JPEG, you can adjust the image quality to find a good balance between quality and file size. WebP is a newer image format that is supported in Firefox and Chrome browsers and can be useful for image optimization. When converting image files to WebP files, choosing lossy or lossless compression preserves image quality while producing a lighter file size.
2. Compress Images Before Uploading Them
Image optimization is important for page speed and SEO. One of the ways to help improve your page speed and keep images from slowing it down too much is to compress them before uploading them to your website.
Without compression, images tend to be heavy content that can slow your website down and even cause serious loading and user experience issues. On the other hand, compressed images do not weigh down your page as much and load faster. Not only does this help people see what they are looking for sooner and help reduce bounce rate, but in doing so, it also improves user experience.
You can use Photoshop or an online image optimizer, like Optimizilla or others, to compress an image prior to uploading. Depending on your setup and processes, you can also rely on website plugins to help compress and optimize images. On top of that, you can use an image CDN to further optimize images and deliver them to users faster.
3. Use Descriptive Titles and Alt Text
Search engines, screen readers, and other digital technologies cannot necessarily read images. They rely on image file names, titles, and alt texts to understand what an image is about. In addition to making your website more accessible, adding descriptive file names and alt text to your images helps search engines understand them for potentially listing them in image searches.
How to Name Images For SEO
Before uploading your images to your website media library, make sure you take some time to update the file name to something keyword-rich and descriptive. You don’t want to go overboard or veer over into keyword stuffing, but you do want to concisely describe what the image is.
If you’re using an image of a cup of coffee, naming the image “cup-of-coffee” or “white-chocolate-latte” if you’re a coffee brand with a lot of images containing cups of coffee is a far better file name than something like “image236”. When naming images for SEO, think about hearing it or seeing only the name; can you get an idea of what the image is without seeing it?
How to Write Alt Text For Images For SEO
Alt text stands for alternative text. When a browser cannot load an image, the alt text, or alt tag, for the image will be displayed. The alt text is also what screen readers will read aloud to describe an image on the page. Adding images and including alt text for them are some on-page SEO tips that also enhance accessibility on your website.
Website accessibility is also required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, so anything you can do to make content on your website easier to access and use is a good thing. Plus, if you’re creating image alt text with keywords and user experience in mind, then you’re naturally creating descriptive alt text that is more useful for people and will help search engines categorize and rank images for image search.
Alt text can be longer and more descriptive than image file names, but you still want to be concise. Alt text that is keyword-rich, accurate, and descriptive will be far more valuable than alt text that is not or is missing.
4. Make Sure Your Images Are Mobile-Friendly
It’s important for your website to be both mobile-friendly and responsive and the same is true for your images. Provided your website is built to be responsive and effectively scale images for varying screen sizes, you just need to make sure your images have enough quality and resolution to scale up and down appropriately while maintaining quality. If your website is not built to be responsive like this, it could be one of the signs you need a new website.
5. Create a More Descriptive URL Structure
A good URL structure and website hierarchy help with SEO on your website; a similar concept can apply to image optimization if you want to go beyond the basics. Renaming or adding subfolders to better organize your media files can take image optimization a step further. This can be particularly useful for brands with a lot of visual assets on their websites who also want to get serious about showing up in image searches.
6. Be Aware of Copyright
If you’re using existing images or stock images instead of original images your brand has created, it’s important to be aware of, and beware of, copyright. Just because you find an image online doesn’t mean you are free to use it. Make sure you are checking that an image is free use before using it.
And, if it needs to be licensed in order to be used, make sure you have licensing for it and you have the right type of licensing for it for how you plan to use it. Some types of licensed images are only for certain use cases and you need to be aware of the acceptable use, licensing, and copyrights on all images you want to use for your business.
7. Focus on Original Images
If you are a visual-focused brand and you want your images to become SEO assets for your brand, it would be a good idea to focus on unique and original images that your brand creates and owns instead of relying on stock images.
Not only do you avoid potential copyright issues and the competition that can come with popular stock photos, but unique images can also become powerful and attractive brand assets that can result in more customers. They can even help you earn backlinks to your website.
Including relevant, high-quality product photos is one of the ecommerce website design tips that can elevate user experience and even help increase conversions. In cases like this, having product images also become SEO assets that can show up in image searches and bring people back to the website to purchase makes a lot of sense.
8. Use Structured Data When It Applies
Structured data adds more context to elements of your website and other things online for search engines and can help search engine crawlers better understand the content. Structured data for images can be used for image metadata and there are extra options available for images related to products, recipes, and videos.
Although structured data alone won’t get your images to rank better in image search, it can help when used as part of an overall image optimization strategy. For the applicable types of images, it can also help provide rich results in image search, which can help your image stand out and attract more clicks.
9. Add Images to Your Sitemap
If you are serious about getting your images indexed and showing up in image results, another way to optimize images for SEO is to add them to an existing sitemap or create a separate image sitemap. This helps search engine crawlers discover your images and provides more information about them, which can help with both crawlability and indexing.
10. Set Up Social Sharing Tags Correctly
Sharing images on social media can help create strong social signals, increase brand awareness, bring people back to your site, earn social media backlinks, and more. Making sure social sharing tags and information are set up correctly is part of image optimization.
Open Graph tags, Twitter Cards, etc. are tags included within a page’s HTML code to ensure that images, descriptions, and other important snippets are displayed correctly when someone shares the page on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Image Optimization Tips Should Be Part of Your SEO Strategy
These are just a few tips for better image SEO. Not only is good image optimization a solid part of SEO best practices, but using these image optimization tips can also help make sure your images don’t slow down your website and can be another way for potential customers to find you online.