seo optimizing images

SEO Tips: Optimizing Images

Not many people think about optimizing images for SEO purposes.

Which I can understand.

Images and I have not been friends. We’re slowly repairing our relationship though. SEO image optimization was unfortunately a technique I had to learn. Not difficult, but it did mean I would have to learn a lot when it comes to image editing. As someone who is eager to learn as much as possible, I decided to get over my fear of Photoshop and other image editing tools.

Which brings me to this particular post on images and how you can optimize them for web search.

SEO, Pictures and Images – Give Them a Name!

When optimizing images, every SEO person understands that you can get traffic through pictures and images. How does a search engine know how to direct this traffic? Yes, by using keywords. Which means naming your images. Those keywords are vital. A string of numbers and letters with .jpg or .png isn’t going to tell the dear search engines very much.

In naming your image, you’ll be picked up both through the image search and the regular text search (…is there another defining name for that? :/).

Don’t Forget ALT Tags!

Alternative text tags provide a description of the picture that’s being uploaded. So, for example, if you have a picture of a new blender you’re selling on an ecommerce site then you can easily have a short description (with relevant keywords).

Optimizing Images for SEO – Don’t Forget About Resizing!

Your image has now been named (shameless-self-promotion-lady-waving.jpg – something relevant to the topic of your content). Since page speed is a ranking factor, you don’t want your content to take a million years downloading a single image onto the user’s browser. Not only will Google take a disliking to this, but user may simply think “Well, feck it anyway” and simply click “Back”. Now you’re in a pickle, because it’s just contributed to your bounce rate!

NOTE: It’s also pretty crap for web accessibility, too.

So, make sure to scale the image to the size you actually want it to be (and please keep mobile in mind…). You may also want to reduce file size. Ultimately, the image has to download as quickly as possible and not be too big for the user’s screen. Hell, test it out on a bunch of devices if you feel like.

File Type? That Too?

GIF, JPEG and PNG are the three image file types generally used when it comes to SEO. GIFs are low-quality images. That’s why you’ll see them turn up in the form of simple images (icons and whatnot tend to be GIFs). They do, however, look rather horrible if used for bigger pictures with more complex colors. Yuck.

JPEG is often the standard for bigger pictures. For the most part, it is advisable to do your images in JPEG however PNG can also work as an alternative to GIF (and won’t degrade over time if it is constantly resaved). Unfortunately, PNGs are still rather big and therefore can affect page speed. It’s not an absolute tragedy if you use them, but I tend to stick to JPEGs and try to avoid GIFs when I can.

These were the first things I learned when it came to SEO image optimization. There always seems to be a fine line between the user and the search engine… As always, you sometimes have to please two rather fickle masters.

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