It’s that time of the year again.
When SEO experts put together their heads and come up with a definitive guide to search engine optimization mistakes that you must steer clear of.
These lists tend to change pretty frequently. And some of the recommendations contradict each other.
But there is one guideline that will never waste your time and that is improving the buyer, reader and client on-site experience.
A key element of what makes a prospect stick around is speed.
How fast does your site load? Is it well below the second mark? Or does it require frequent refreshes to show up?
Do all the site elements come on the screen together providing a cohesive and engaging flow of content? Or do some of the images take forever to load leaving readers with broken grey spaces?
These are important questions to answer. And they push image optimization up the ladder of priorities for a business. Attention spans are getting shorter. Your load times must follow suite if you want Google to view you favorably.
Image optimisation doesn’t need to be rocket science though. It utilizes the familiar concepts of keywords, file size and file format and is easy enough to grasp once you go through the three best practices listed below.
Optimize Images for SEO With Keywords
Optimizing with keywords is something entrepreneur extraordinaire Neil Patel stresses over and over again. When a guy has founded several multi million dollar startups, you listen to him.
First of all, you can include your primary keyword in the image itself by filling out the metadata inside an image editing program like Photoshop or through the WordPress image editing options. Look for the following fields:
- Document title
- Author Title
Once the image metadata is entered, you can actually include a keyword in the image file name itself. For example, in the article you’re reading about optimizing images for SEO, we may designate the image name as “optimize-images-seo.jpg” because it’s a good keyword for our chosen topic.
Once you save the file, all of this information is discoverable by the search engine. (Be sure to note the dashes in the file name –– these are essential for helping search engines parse out each word.)
The reason keywords matter is because Google doesn’t really know how to crawl images or video. Even though it tries, Google is much better at understanding text, so you can help it along by giving everything a descriptive name.
In that spirit, you’ll want to see if you can get a keyword in the alt text as well. You can insert it in the page’s HTML through the ALT attribute inside the specific IMG tag, or in the alt text field of a CMS like WordPress. However, this should only apply to images that truly are related to your topic –– don’t overcommit by stuffing decorative images with questionable keywords.
By following these steps, everything starts working together, and Google will really notice what the page is all about. Combined with other SEO techniques, you should be doing everything you need to in order to see your search engine rank climb.
Optimize Images for SEO Through Image Format
People are impatient these days, from standing in coffee lines to receiving the package they ordered from Amazon. The last thing people are going to wait for is a slow webpage (read: picture) to load.
Thankfully, when you learn how to optimize images, you can find the perfect balance between image quality and image size. And if you’re still worried about SEO, you should know that page load speeds are one of the many factors Google’s algorithm considers.
One of the simplest ways to save your images is with the “Save for Web” command in Adobe Photoshop. This will automatically save it as the lowest possible file size while maintaining image quality. Ideally, try to keep your image files under 70kb.
It’s also important to understand the difference between PNG, JPG, and GIF formats. At the same file size, these are most definitely not created equal. PNG tends to be larger, but is much more popular because it doesn’t degrade when saved over and over like JPG. However, if you want the maximum speed for loading pages, JPEGs are the best mix of quality and small file size.
Even with the right format, you can be strategic to keep load times down. Rather than have a number of large images loading all at once on a webpage, you can do what a lot of people do and include a thumbnail that will load the larger image on a separate webpage or in a pop-up for those who click it.
Optimize Images for SEO Respecting the Human Element
Like the text you write for your website, images are ultimately there to provide a better experience to real live human visitors. The whole point of a search engine is to help people find the content they’re looking for, so don’t forget the greater purpose of SEO when you’re selecting and optimizing your images.
And images do matter. According to digital marketer Derek Halpern, images are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Your readers need good images to break up the text and keep them engaged.
Even better, you can sprinkle in some images that add humor to a piece. You don’t have to be a comedian to come up with quality images like memes that make your pages more enjoyable to read.
When you’ve done the important work of selecting and optimizing images, next comes measurement and tracking. Monitor your search engine ranking, test your webpage load times, and consider the human element to ensure that your images are doing the best job they can do.
Featured Image Attribution: “Touch Pad Pc And Streaming Images Virtual Buttons On Women Hand” by twobee