Search Engine Optimization is a comprehensive task that involves steps of various degrees. While everybody understands the importance of SEO, some of these smaller steps are often omitted. An example of such would be image optimization.

Although a minor part of a broader SEO plan, image optimization can significantly boost your website’s visibility in the search engine. Because many businesses fail to recognize the importance of optimizing images for SEO, you can have the edge over your competitors by incorporating it into your website’s overall strategy. 

Not only that, but image optimization will also improve the user experience on your website. It means you won’t just be able to drive more traffic to your website but also ensure the visitors have a seamless experience.

meme - are you making image optimization errors

In this post, we will discuss some valuable tips to help you optimize images for SEO on your website.

1. Name Your Images Appropriately

We understand how tempting it feels to let your images have a generic name assigned to them. For one, it’s straightforward and requires no thought. And let’s admit, it’s quicker and saves your time.

This is where image optimization begins: with the right image filename. Search engine spiders study image names to get an idea about their content. Giving a relevant name to your images can help the search crawlers know what your image contains.

Incorporate your target keywords in the image filenames to boost their chances of appearing in relevant search queries. Try to use descriptive words to give a better explanation. 

For example, you have uploaded an image of a woman doing yoga for your wellness website. Instead of just naming it “image001.jpg” or “woman001.jpg”, you should name it “woman-doing-yoga.jpg.”

A descriptive file name will cover your relevant keyword and help Google know the exact content of your image. 

2. Give Descriptive Alt Text

Search engines are not capable of reading images as we do. They depend on the image’s alt text to understand what is being displayed. An excellent alternative text also helps visually impaired users by describing its contents. Moreover, alt text will be displayed on the reader’s screen if the image files fail to load correctly. 

Word Cloud - Descriptive Alt Text

You should update the alt text of all your images on your website, accurately explaining what is being depicted in the visuals. Also, integrating relevant keywords into the alt text can increase your website’s visibility as SEO spiders scan them for ranking. So, make sure you assign a descriptive alt text to each image.

But, while you are being descriptive, don’t forget to remain concise and avoid keyword stuffing. Consider the image of a woman doing yoga. A poor alt text would look something like this:

<img src=“woman-doing-yoga.jpg” alt=“woman yoga meditation meditating yoga exercise”/>

As you can see, the alt text contains many relevant keywords, but it fails to clearly demonstrate what the image is showing. Let’s take a look at a good alt text for the same image:

<img src=“woman-doing-yoga.jpg” alt=“blonde woman doing yoga outdoors”/>

3. Ensure the Right Image Format

There are different image formats available for different purposes. Choosing the correct format for each purpose is crucial to a great image optimization strategy. As images slow down the loading speed of a page, they can cause your SEO rankings to lower. Moreover, people primarily navigate out of a website if it takes ages to load, increasing the bounce rate.

Websites mostly use the following basic image formats:

  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • GIF

Since each format has a different compression method, the file sizes for each differ significantly. 

So, which format is the idea for use? 

Well, there are no hard and fast rules. JPEGs take up less space but still retain the image quality, making them ideal for photographic images.

As for PNGs work great to display screenshots, illustrations, infographics, etc., and hence, cover more space. Meanwhile, GIFs can be your go-to option to save animated images on your website.

4. Avoid Overused Stock Images

It is not only textual content that needs to be unique and plagiarism-free. The visual content that you use on your website should also be novel and not overused. While original images are ideal for remaining unique and distinct, they can not always be a budget-friendly option.

As for stock photos, they are great for use on your website but finding unique content can be a little daunting and time-consuming. It’s better not to get your images from free stock images websites, as everybody has easy access to them. You should look to purchase them from legit and reputable repository websites.

Although the uniqueness of images doesn’t directly impact your SEO ranking, it sure does reflect well on the user experience, decreasing your page’s bounce rate.

5. Importance of an Image Sitemap

Google defines a sitemap as “a database where you give information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site and their relationships.”

hand drawing a site map

We come across sitemaps on various websites where we can locate all textual information about the pages. It is also essential for each visual content on your website to be listed in the sitemap – from the smallest logos to big hero images.

An image sitemap helps search engine crawlers locate every little visual on your website and consider it while assigning SEO rankings.

6. Ensure Mobile Responsive Images

In today’s technologically advanced world, everybody can access mobile phones and other such devices. People like scrolling through their mobile screens in their leisure. That’s why your images must be adaptive to different devices and layouts.

Keeping your images mobile-friendly makes your website rank higher in search results. You can also attract more potential customers.

Making your images mobile responsive with CSS is simple. An image has a definite width and height; you can change that by assigning a new value to its width property. This, in return, will change the height accordingly.

If you’re using WordPress, there’s no hassle as the fluid image feature has been added by default in version 4.4.

7. Consider Lazy Loading Your Images

Lazy loading is defined as “ the practice of delaying load or initialization of resources or objects until they’re actually needed to improve performance and save system resources.”

It means that by using this technique, you can delay the loading of an image that the user has to scroll down to view. In simpler words, not everything on the page begins to load all at once. This consequently reduces a page’s loading time and contributes to a better SEO ranking.

Another advantage of lazy loading your images is that it cuts the bandwidth usage by only loading the contents that the user requests. This is ideal for a seamless onsite journey. 

Conclusion on Image Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is essential for the success of any online business. And a great SEO strategy is incomplete without incorporating into it a thorough image optimization plan.

Even the most minor steps count when the competition is intense and everybody is trying to up their SEO game. These tips will definitely boost your website’s visibility and rank it higher in the search engine rankings.

About the Author:

Ivy Attie is the Content Manager for Stockphotos.

About the author