The Importance of Image Optimization for Search Engine Optimization
The DIY Guide to SEO – Part 2 – Optimizing Images
This is one part of a multi-part series of articles for on-page search engine optimization.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, we just want to point out that there are a gazillion things you can do to try to improve your search results, but we are just going to focus on the most important on-page SEO tactics that any user (not developer or SEO expert) can do themselves.
Don’t forget to download the complimentary DIY SEO Checklist.
PRO TIP: Images can make or break your site (literally). Images not only need to look good, they need to be properly optimized.
One of THE biggest mistakes with websites today is that the images aren’t properly optimized for use online. Image files can be huge depending on the image size and resolution. Bigger is not better when it comes to images. They should be properly sized for the space they’ll actually be using (ie. Don’t use an 1800px wide image if the actual size will be only 300px) and they need to be saved in a reduced resolution of 72 ppi. For those of you who deal in print media, you’re probably used to using images in a much higher resolution, which is total overkill for use online.
Images are usually the number one (and most easily corrected) cause of a slow website. If your website load speed is more than 3 seconds, it’s time to take a good look at those images and start making some changes.
If you have the Adobe suite of products, just use the “Save for Web” option and you are good to go. If you don’t have access to a program like Photoshop, there are plenty of free or low cost options available online as well.
NOTE: One criteria search engines use for determining rankings is page load time. Images that are poorly optimized and result in a slow loading website can actually harm your business’s rankings.
IMPORTANT: By default WordPress automatically saves your images as multiple image files in different sizes. Thus, one poorly optimized image actually becomes many, which can lead to an unnecessarily large website. A great housekeeping tip is to periodically go through your media folder and delete any unused images to reduce the size of your website.
Using Image “Alt” Tags
The behind the scenes coding of images is also an excellent opportunity to give some more information to search engines. Image “alt” tags provide a description of the image to be used in case the image fails to load and for screen reader software for the visually impaired. So, instead of saying something like “img76358” you can use this opportunity to throw in a good description like “a rosemary bush at X’s garden center”.
The image “alt” tag is often neglected because it’s hidden to the vast majority of your visitors. But it’s not hidden to search engines and they use it to see what your page is about. So, start getting descriptive!
Image “alt” tags can often be set in image properties within a theme. You can also add them manually by looking at the image code. When you insert an image in WordPress by using the “add media” option, it actually inserts the image like this (Not seeing it? Be sure to switch to the “text” view in your editor.)
<img src=”https://yourwebsite.com/path-to-your-image” alt=”” />
There in red is the “alt” tag. Simply insert your description between the quotation marks like this: alt=”my super awesome description”. Easy, no?
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About the Author
Jessica is the Director of Digital Marketing and Owner of Dohmain Designs. She is a small business sales and marketing expert specializing in business growth through intelligent website design and sales & marketing automation.
Jessica is a Certified Infusionsoft Partner, marketing automation and CRM expert with over 15 years of professional sales and marketing experience. In 2011, she combined that experience with innovative website design and created Dohmain Designs. She has worked with biotech giants, overseen the digital marketing for a popular Discovery Channel hit TV series, and helped hundreds of clients grow their business. Prior to creating Dohmain Designs, Jessica worked in the fast-paced biotech sector focusing primarily on technical sales and marketing, as well as providing complicated sales-focused CRM training across various disciplines.
Jessica is a member of her local Rotary Club where she has previously served as the Membership co-chair and currently serves as the Public Relations chair. Jessica truly believes in the "Service Above Self" Rotarian philosophy and strives to dedicate her time and talents to helping others, both in her personal and professional relationships.
She is located in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and works with clients all across North America. If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica, simply complete the contact form below.