A lot goes into search engine optimization these days, due to the constant Google Algorithm updates. What may have been applicable a few years ago may be currently obsolete. Due to this, SEO strategists and developers need to take advantage of optimizing every potential ranking factor. When all things are created equal, site-wide image optimization may be the difference between ranking number 1 or number 2 on the first page.
Why Image optimization is important for SEO
Although not a sexy factor of Onsite SEO, image optimization should be an aspect of your SEO strategy you take seriously. Images are a very vital ingredient of on-page optimization. When correctly done, with a bit of upfront effort they can help drive traffic and may be the difference in certain keywords SERP ranking to your website. Additionally, there is the benefit of gaining image ranking that can also help your websites digital footprint. Many searchers do an image search on a search engine, for instance, if they are shopping or researching a product. If your images are properly optimized, they will appear on top of the Google images SERP. Once the user clicks on the image, it will direct the user to your site which means more traffic for your website. An e-commerce website can garner an increased visitor base and potential sales by having quality photos and image placement, simply based on the traffic that is driven by the images.
Image optimization techniques
The first and most important thing is to look for relevant images. It doesn`t make sense to have a cat image on a page that is talking about dogs. Also, choose images that match the keyword for the targeted page, optimize based on page content, address both the pain point of the consumer, what it is they are lacking that is prompting their search; as well as illustrating how your products provide the solution and relief to their needs.
Optimized Image File Name
Before you upload an image to your site, it is important to rename it to something that is relevant to the specific page based on the keyword mapping and ensure its keyword rich but accurate. Absolutely avoid keyword stuffing images (putting a bunch of keywords in the filename, alt or title tag). It is also important to include hyphens to separate each word. For instance, if you are writing something about latest SEO techniques, the file name of your image should be saved as: “latest-seo-techniques-updates.jpg”. Renaming it this way makes it easier for search engines to understand your image and index it correctly.
The Image Alt Text Attribute
Alt Text is simply describing your image in a language that search engines can understand. It’s more like putting your image in descriptive text, in a way that a visually impaired person can be able to see it. The Alt Tag explains to search engine crawls what the image is depicting. Keep the Alt Tags short, you are not writing a novel. However, make sure you`re as descriptive in your text as possible. A good example of Alt Tag for the purpose of this post would be:
Correct image captioning makes it easier for readers to understand what the image is about and also creates an opportunity to implement keywords and derivative keywords. You are simply describing the image to the reader. Additionally, if the image was curated from another site, this is where you give credit links since the caption comes directly below the image.
Image dimensions and angles
With an e-commerce website, it makes sense to take photos of your products from different angles and upload each photo. For instance, you can take photos of the product’s interior, exterior, close-up shots, front and rear just to give viewers a variety of perspectives. Adding an alt tag to each of the images gives search engines ample opportunity to index the site for desired keywords.
Size matters!! Always remember these two words while uploading images to your pages. If the images are too large in size, it increases the page load time. This will affect search placement, and may result in a higher bounce rate as users will consider the page as unresponsive, if they have to wait for an image to load, this can lead to low ranking on SERPS. If you are not sure about the images you've uploaded and how they impact your search, try Google's page speed insights tool.
If you want to upload an image but it is too large, there are image compression tools that shrink it so that it’s below 70 kb.
The format in which you upload an image is very important. There are very many types of image formats, but the most commonly used are:
Leveraging image sitemaps makes it easy for search engines to locate your images, understand what the images are and to align them with desired keyword terms. The sitemap provides information on all the images within the site, and enable site engines to correctly index them. Be specific while describing each image, to make it easily interpretable and once you get it right, you will have a site that is optimized for both humans and search engine bots, resulting in higher ranking & traffic to your site.
Correct image optimization will boost traffic to your site and keep users on your pages much longer by supplementing what you have provided from your written text. This further highlights why it is important to make image optimization a part of your website SEO strategy.
Mike Hodgdon- SEO & Digital Marketing Expert Consultant