Image optimization is one of the most overlooked but most powerful website optimization tools available to a SEO or a website owner. With a few button clicks and the right keyword targeting, your images can go from simple visual representation of your writing to an integral part of how Google sees and ranks your content. Five of the most helpful image optimization tips for businesses are relevancy, image titles, alt tags, keywords, and formatting:
Better SEO with Five Simple Tips
Google has spent many years working on and refining its machine learning and automated image-reading abilities, and they have started to reach the point where no marketer worth his or her salt would ever recommend placing an unrelated image in content, regardless of the negative effects on coherence and click through rate. Having a relevant image is a signal to Google that your content is worthy of being read, shared, and displayed on their search engine. The takeaway is that images are now capable of being analyzed by Google in a similar manner to the content itself, and should have just as much attention paid to their relevancy, utility, and optimization.
While the concept of using image titles as opportunities for optimization has been around for nearly as long as the SEO industry, many marketers and site administrators often overlook it, thinking that Google must have moved beyond such dated tactics by now. This, however, is far from the case. In fact, relevant image titles become even more important when viewed in light of the machine learning and relevancy changes mentioned above.
If your blog post is about SEO image optimization, to use a pertinent example, use an image relevant to image optimization for SEO and title said image something like “SEO Image Optimization Tips.” To use another example, if you’re writing a blog post about the USS North Carolina, and you have an image of the North Carolina that you took on a visit, make sure that the image title is “USS North Carolina A Turret” instead of “DSC100001010_2017_04_01” or whatever the camera named it.
Much like image titles, alt tags have been around for SEO image optimization for as long as SEO has been a concept, as they were introduced with HTML 2 in 1995. Also much like image titles, people imagine that they serve no use these days, especially with the aforementioned advance of Google’s ability to “see” images without the alt text. These tags, however, still serve a purpose, both for usability and for pure SEO image optimization. Alt tags are still used for site crawlers and readers for the blind, and as such can be seen by the spiders Google uses to calculate its rankings.
However, Google has also gotten smart to the old strategies of stuffing your alt tags with keywords. While this used to be one of the primary ways to optimize an old site, Google will now punish your site and possibly destroy your rankings. Therefore, alt tags should be descriptive and not have more than one or two keywords. To use the examples above, an alt tag for an SEO image would be something like “an expert working on image optimization for SEO” or “The battleship USS North Carolina’s three 16 inch rifles in the A turret.” Both of these tags are verbal representations of the picture while still having your keyword, the golden combination of optimizing for Google and optimizing for people.
Keywords and Five Stars
Even more than the previous two optimization angles, image keywords and ratings have been nearly forgotten by almost all SEOs and business owners. These can be accessed by right-clicking on an image within its folder when you’re on your computer, going to “Properties”, and then going to “Details”. Under this tab you will see not only your Title and Alt options, but you will also see two sections called “Rating” and “Tags”. These are easily-accessible SEO image optimization options, and most people will not bother filling them out, giving you an advantage.
The most efficient way to fill these out is to write a list of keywords (separated by commas) out in either a notepad document or a word document, and use the relevant keywords for that image. This means that you won’t have to spend time individually typing out keywords over and over again.
Image Size Optimization
Website load speed is an incredibly important aspect of usability, ranking, and even conversion rate. In fact, Amazon did a study that found that 1 second of extra loading time lost them $1.6 billion dollars a year. While chances are that your site is not as large as Amazon, not only will it lose you users, Google does consider page load speeds in their ranking algorithm. As such, paying attention to keeping your images to an optimal size is paramount.
The two main image formats used online these days are PNG and JPG. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but broadly put, JPG will be more useful for most websites. This does not mean, however, that there are no uses for PNG files. Unlike JPG, PNG is a lossless file type, meaning that you will not lose quality when saving or viewing the image. For most images this is not a concern, and regular JPG will be perfectly fine. However, if image quality is your primary concern and you are willing to sacrifice page load speed for it, PNG is a more appropriate file type.
An easy way to test your site’s speed is Google’s tool: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/. This tool will tell you where you should focus your optimization efforts, and will also give you an idea of the images that you need to compress to raise your site’s speed.
SEO Optimize Your Images Like A Pro
The best part about all of these optimization tips and tricks is that they’re entirely free and require no advanced knowledge other than your own desired keywords and a willingness to get everything on your site polished and optimized. Just like many other aspects of SEO, the real magic is knowledge, perseverance, and dedication. Making sure that all of your images are both keyword optimized and load time optimized is one more dollar in the bank of your search engine rankings, and despite its ease it is quite often overlooked. If you want to boost your site’s rankings and haven’t already worked on your images, they’re a very good place to start.