SEO Image Optimization Tips
You should always use images when you write an article. The images support your article’s content and give readers a better visualization about the purpose of an article. The following information will help you add images that add value to written content.
Preparing Images for SEO
Once you find the right images—illustration, photo, or infographic—you need to optimize them so you can use them on your website, However, you need to consider several things before you do this.
Select the Right File Name
Optimizing images for SEO begins with the selection of the right file name. In other words, you need to tell Google the reason for the image. Therefore, you should choose a key phrase to include in the image’s file name.
For example, if you write an article about Paris, you don’t want to name your file D222.jpg. The right file name for SEO would be something like Paris-travel-destination.jpg. The main subject for the image and the article should be inserted at the beginning of the file.
Select the Correct Format
When you optimize images for SEO, you need to do the following:
- Select a JPEG file for larger illustrations and photos to get good results for clarity and color;
- Use PNG if you want to maintain the background transparency for an image;
- Use WebP rather than PNG or JPEG for getting high-quality results for smaller sized files. You can use a tool, such as Squoosh, for converting an image to WebP; or
If you know your readers will be using a specific device or browser, make sure to see if a file’s format can be supported by that device or browser.
After you select the correct name and format, it is time to resize the image and optimize it for SEO.
Scaling an Image for SEO
Load times are important for UX (user experience) and SEO. If a site is faster, it is simpler for visitors and the search engines to visit a page. Remember, the images you add can impact load times. This is especially true when you upload a large image and display it in a smaller size. To prevent problems with loading, you will need to resize the image.
In this case, it helps to use WordPress, as the platform provides the image in various sizes after you upload it. However, that still does not mean the file size has been optimized. Therefore, you need to consider what size you want the image to be before you upload it.
Use Responsive Images
Is your image responsive? Can it be seen on a PC and a mobile device? Using a responsive image is essential for SEO. If you use WordPress, this is already done for you. Images should have an attribute (srcset), which enables you to present a different image per the width of a screen – something that can be easily used for mobile screen applications.
Reducing the File Size
To optimize images, you also need to make sure your scaled image has been compressed. By using this technique, you can serve the image in the smallest possible file size. While you could simply export an image and work with quality ratios, it still is better to use 100% quality images.
Because of the popularity of retina screens, it makes more sense to use 100% quality images and reduce the file size. Just erase the EXIF data with a tool, such as ImageOptimum.
Using Google PSI to Test Web Page Performance
After you optimize an image, test the page with a tool, such as Google PageSpeed Insights. The PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool is especially effective, as it reports on a web page’s performance on both desktop and mobile devices, and follows up by providing recommendations on improving the resulting stats.
PSI supplies both field and lab data about a page. Lab data is helpful, as you can use the information to debug performance glitches. However, this data may not capture some of the bottlenecks. Field data is used to assess real-world UX.
When you look at the top of the PSI report, you will see the performance score, which indicates a web page’s performance. While a score of 90+ is considered good, 50 to 90 tells you that the web page’s speed could be improved. Any score below 50 is poor.
Adding an Image to Your Article
While Google continues to get better at acknowledging images, you still should add as much text to the image so the search engine understands why the picture is included in the content. When you do include the image then, add it near some related text so it can be optimized.
Image captions are important for on-page SEO, as people note them when they scan an article. Research has shown that readers scan captions, images, and headings when they scan web pages. As far back as 1997, Nielsen research revealed that certain elements enhance scanning, including the following:
- Large type
- Bold text
- Bulleted lists
- Highlighted text
- Tables of Contents
- Topic Sentences
KissMetrics supported the above research, stating, in 2012, that image captions are read even more than the content in the body of an article. If you don’t include captions then, you lose out on the opportunity to reach a large segment of your audience.
However, that does not mean you need to add a caption to each image. Sometimes, an image may be serving another purpose besides SEO. Therefore, only use captions where it makes sense to add one. Otherwise, you will end up over-optimizing your images.
Also, make sure you include alt text (or an alt tag) to an image, so a descriptive text will be displayed in case there is a problem with getting an image to load. Use an alt tag for every image you include along with an SEO key phrase for the page. Describe what is in the image, so visitors and the search engines can understand it. When you include relevant details around an image, the search engines will increase the image’s importance, which is always good for SEO.
Some Final Reminders
If you don’t remember anything else about image optimization, make sure to include a caption. Captions are read by both visitors and the search engines, so you should always include a caption if it makes sense for optimization. Get into the habit of adding alt tags as well, so your pictures will be recognized even if they cannot be displayed.