10 Simple Tips For Better Image Optimization

Opti­miz­ing your images cre­ates a bet­ter expe­ri­ence for your users and can increase your vis­i­bil­i­ty in the search results.

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 1 comment

An image opti­miza­tion strat­e­gy begins with imple­ment­ing best prac­tices for the read­abil­i­ty and acces­si­bil­i­ty of images on your site, and extends to the larg­er strat­e­gy of being found in Google Images and the uni­ver­sal search results. Hun­dreds of mil­lions of image-relat­ed queries are con­duct­ed every day, accord­ing to Google. So tak­ing advan­tage of image opti­miza­tion gives more oppor­tu­ni­ty to be found in the search results, whether for a prod­uct image fea­tured on your site or an orig­i­nal info­graph­ic.

Why Image Optimization Is Important

The user expe­ri­ence is a key bat­tle­ground – your user expe­ri­ence defines your brand. Give peo­ple a great user expe­ri­ence and they’ll come back again and again; give them a ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ence and you’ll like­ly lose them for­ev­er. Image qual­i­ty and load­ing speeds have a pro­nounced effect on user hap­pi­ness as they browse sites, accord­ing to some insight­ful research from Rad­ware. If your images don’t load quick­ly, they will quick­ly become unhap­py and aban­don your site. By opti­miz­ing your images, you will cut your page load times, which will have a pos­i­tive impact on your traf­fic, con­ver­sions, and sales. Con­vinced? OK. Here are 10 sim­ple tips for bet­ter web­site image opti­miza­tion.

1. Choose The Most Awesome Image You Can

Try to choose the most com­pelling images pos­si­ble, some­thing that is beau­ti­ful, or fun­ny, or just plain amaz­ing that also helps tell your sto­ry. For exam­ple, our pages fea­ture a large “cov­er” image above the fold to enhance our read­ers’ expe­ri­ence. Also, if you can, use sev­er­al awe­some pic­tures, espe­cial­ly when your con­tent is long. This will help break up text and improve read­abil­i­ty. Impor­tant note: There are tons of ways to obtain images today, both free and paid. Make sure to always check that the images you choose don’t belong to some­one else.

2. Optimize For Speed

Size mat­ters when it comes to fea­tur­ing images on your site. You want to make absolute­ly cer­tain that image files aren’t slow­ing your pages in any way. Google’s Page­Speed tool can help you diag­nose that, along with rec­om­men­da­tions in your Google Ana­lyt­ics under Behav­ior > Site Speed.

3. Image Size Matters

For some peo­ple, visu­al con­tent can be much more com­pelling and per­sua­sive than text. Make sure your images are large enough to pro­vide a clear, com­pelling pic­ture of what you’re try­ing to illus­trate or sell to your vis­i­tors.

4. Resize & Compress Your Images

Ide­al­ly, you want to upload the image at the size it will be used. If you need an image that’s 600px wide, there’s no need to upload an image that’s 2000px wide. Resize it. You should check out Google’s advice for image opti­miza­tion.

5. Optimize Your File Names

Nam­ing images is impor­tant to bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate what the image is about, so hav­ing a descrip­tive file name is key. An image about a grumpy cat is bet­ter named grumpy-cat.jpg than IMG00015.jpg Grumpy Cat Image Optimization Meme

Don’t add a bunch of irrel­e­vant key­words in the hopes that will help your image rank for var­i­ous key­words – just describe the image as a per­son would like­ly search for it. For exam­ple: grumpy-cat.jpg is OK; grumpy-cat-buy-cat-food-cat-litter-cat-trees-best-deals.jpg is just ter­ri­ble. Beyond descrip­tive words, a best prac­tice is to ensure the name is not over­ly long, that it’s in low­er­case, and that hyphens, not under­scores, are used between words.

6. Pick The Best File Type

Most browsers sup­port the fol­low­ing image file types: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP (GIFs are even ani­mat­ed in Google Image Search results). You’ll want to use JPGs for most of the images on your site, PNGs for high qual­i­ty images (e.g., logos, some­thing with lots of col­ors, or you need a trans­par­ent back­ground), and GIFs when you have a good rea­son to get ani­mat­ed.

7. Describe Your Image With The Alt Attribute

The Alt attribute gives you anoth­er way to describe your image. Search engines can’t “see” your image, so this fur­ther explains what your image is about (again: no key­word stuff­ing here!). In addi­tion, using the Alt attribute makes the images acces­si­ble the blind when screen-read­ing ser­vices read the Alt text. In fact, one court rul­ing showed just how impor­tant acces­si­bil­i­ty was in a case against Tar­get by the Nation­al Fed­er­a­tion of the Blind.

8. Create Image Sitemaps

Image sitemaps help search engines access more infor­ma­tion about the images on your site. Google says specif­i­cal­ly that image sitemaps can help it “dis­cov­er images that we might not oth­er­wise find (such as images your site reach­es with JavaScript code)” and allow you to “indi­cate images on your site that you want Google to crawl and index.”

9. Explore Schema

Struc­tured markup, like the kind found at Schema.org, is the future of the web. By fur­ther explain­ing what your images are about using markup, the search engines are able to bet­ter serve the most rel­e­vant image for a search. Image markup can be used for a whole host of oth­er sce­nar­ios, like ensur­ing the work is attrib­uted to the cre­ator, indi­cat­ing the loca­tion where the image was tak­en, and more.

10. Use A CDN

One way to help your images load faster for users with a Con­tent Deliv­ery Net­work (CDN), which will load images for your users based on their loca­tion. Not every site needs this, but for those that do it can have huge ben­e­fits in terms of speed, user expe­ri­ence, and SEO per­for­mance.

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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