11 Jul Image SEO tips you need to know.
Image SEO is often overlooked. Your visual content needs to be optimised in order for search engines to find, which ensures maximum visibility online.
The last time you uploaded an image onto your site, what did you do? Many people download a stock photo and upload it back onto their website. What you have actually done is upload a huge file to your site and left it with a generic alt text description.
According to studies, over 20% of Google searches are done through images, so it’s not something you can just ignore. Without optimisation, you’re wasting a valuable SEO asset. Image optimisation means faster load times, a better experience for the visitor, and the reason we are all here; the additional opportunities to rank on search engines.
So, what do you need to do to take full advantage of this?
Stock or not?
If you really want to make your site your own, which we certainly advise, take your own photos! If you only use stock images you won’t look very creative and arguably it can even make the site look untrustworthy and / or unprofessional.
Every other site on the internet uses stock photos, so stand out! Whilst your stock image may well be optimised beautifully, it won’t have either the same impact or SEO benefit as an original photo or graphic.
Furthermore, you won’t have the issue of copyright. It’s deceivingly easy to innocently upload a stock image that you should actually be paying for. If you do, you may not even realise for years; until a letter demanding extortionate fees lands on your lap. It pays to use a graphic designer or photographer.
Google isn’t shy about telling you that the best thing that you can do for SEO value is to provide a site which is valuable, original, and a great user experience. So surely this same principle applies to images? As we touched on above, a stock photo isn’t original or valuable.
In addition, with Google as dedicated as they are to original copy; it’s not a stretch to imagine that in the not too distant future, they will do the same thing with visual content. In our opinion, it’s likely that they will, at some point, provide a site with an SEO boost for original images.
We have, as a team, conducted split tests across our site; comparing pages with our own images vs stock. In every test thus far; original visuals outperform stock in terms of page traffic and engagement.
Formatting and compression.
As and when you add images to your site, make sure that they are in the correct format. The three most popular are the JPEG , GIF, and PNG files. The former can lose image quality, but the latter is a larger file.
You don’t want a big image on your site as it will slow things down exponentially. As we all know, this will negatively affect your overall SEO. According to studies, images make up around 21% of a websites total weight. You really don’t want to add to that.
To avoid this you should compress your images before uploading them. If you have it, you can use Photoshop. If not, there are online tools available; the best known is probably TinyPNG which also has a WordPress plug in. Talking of plugins; a great free one is Smush (this is what we use) because it can reduce the weight of the file without compromising on the quality of the image.
Furthermore, you can make your images responsive. This means that if someone lands on your website from a mobile device, the image resizes automatically.
Think about the text.
You have your shiny new images and they aren’t slowing you down. Now is the time to optimise! You need to use descriptive, relevant, keyworded file names, alt tags, and descriptions.
All of the above alert search engines like Google as to what your image is, and it should be a relevant subject matter to the page you are posting it on. Optimise these three points to help search engines categorise your image and increase the SEO value of your website.
We hope this has been helpful! Remember every positive action you take on your website to make it easier to read, more accessible for visitors, and encourages Google to increase your rankings. Yes it can take time, but can you afford not to do it?