Images are an often overlooked part of SEO and the whole search engine experience, however they can play an important part and proper utilisation can be very beneficial. So, here are some tips to help you optimise for the best SEO.
Focus On Quality And Originality When Choosing Your Images
Images can add a lot to the overall user experience. Ideally, all of the images that you use on your website should be original. They should also be highly relevant to the content of the page where they are shown.
There are a couple of different ways that you can go about getting original images. For photographs, you can take your own pictures using a high-quality camera. For other types of graphics, you can use an in-house designer or you can outsource them, hiring a graphic design firm to create them for you.
Ultimately, all of your images should serve a purpose on your website, providing your visitors with a good experience every time they land on one of your pages.
Stock photographs are so common that most people ignore them. Matt Woodward advises you take your own photos, on the other hand, makes it much easier to grab people’s attention when they spot your one of your photos in the search results.
If you aren’t sure where to find the best images for your site, and don’t want to pay for them, check out this list of free image sites that offer royalty free graphics and images.
Make Sure Your Images Serve A Purpose
The best images are the ones that reinforce an idea or that make it easier for users to understand a concept or a product.
Many people are visual learners, meaning that they learn best when content is presented to them in a visual format. From an emotional standpoint, images are also typically far more impactful than big chunks of text.
Ideally, you should try to add images to all of your content. Just make sure that they are relevant. It is better to have no image than to add an image that doesn’t relate to your content.
Screenshots are another valuable type of image to add to your website. You can use them to explain concepts or to help people understand how to perform certain actions. They are particularly beneficial when you are writing about a topic that is complex or difficult to understand.
In terms of content creation, the goal of images should be to serve as a complement to your written content. They should enhance your writing, making concepts easier to understand or showcasing products. They can also be used to break up large blocks of text.
Select the Correct Format For Your Images
Deciding on an image is only the first part of the process. Once you find the perfect picture, you need to decide what format to save it in. The three most common file types used on the web are JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
JPEG is the best option for photographs. It compresses images, helping to keep the file size down. Unfortunately, this compression can result in a loss of quality. Another drawback to JPEGs is that they don’t support transparency. However, when you are dealing with photographs, it is usually the best file format since it helps keep the file size as small as possible, ensuring that the photos will load quickly.
GIFs are the best choice for basic art or for animated images. GIFs can only contain 256 colors, meaning that this file format is usually not appropriate for photographs. For simple graphics or business logos, however, it does a great job of keeping the file size small while at the same time creating crisp, clean images.
PNG files combine the benefits of GIFs and JPEGs. Like GIFS, they support transparency, making them a good option for logos or other types of digitally-created content. At the same time, they also have much greater color support, meaning that they can be used for photographs, as well. Although the file size of PNG images can be somewhat larger than JPEGs, you may find that it is a good option for situations that call for high-quality images that are as crisp and clear as possible.
Check the File Size Of Your Thumbnails
Thumbnail images are a great way to give people a preview of larger images that reside on another page. For instance, in an e-commerce store, products may have a thumbnail image on the store category page with a larger image on the product detail page.
The only thing you have to keep in mind when using thumbnail images is that the file sizes can quickly get out of control. Instead of just shrinking down a larger image, you should save each thumbnail individually, making sure that it has the smallest file size possible. That way, your category pages won’t take too long to load.
Because thumbnail images are so small, you can usually sacrifice a little bit of quality in order to keep the size of the file small. Since most pages with thumbnails include more than one image, you need to focus more on small file sizes than on the quality of the images.
When filling in the alt attribute for these images, try to use different text than the text that you use for the larger, higher-quality images. Imagine how disappointing it would be if your thumbnail image got indexed by the search engines while your larger image got ignored. Some experts even recommend avoiding using the alt tag on thumbnail images.
Use A Sitemap Specifically For Your Images
You can either add image information to your existing sitemap or you can create a second sitemap that is devoted only to images. The process is a lot easier than you might think. In essence, it just involves adding a small amount of image information for each URL.
There are even plug-ins available for WordPress that you can use to easily create a sitemap for your images.
Use Descriptive Names For Your Images
When you pull images off of your camera, they have a default filename. As tempting as it might be to leave this file name, it is generally a bad idea from an SEO standpoint.
Renaming them using relevant keywords is a great way to help the search engines better understand what the pictures are all about. The more descriptive you can be with the titles, the better job the search engines will do of listing your images.
Here is a great example:
Imagine that you are selling a Hyundai Elantra. When you take a photo of the car, your camera automatically assigns it a name, which is usually made up of a jumble of letters and numbers. Instead of sticking with this original name, you should change the name of the file to something like 2018-Hyundai-Elantra-blue.jpg.
When coming up with names for your images, think about the types of search terms that your customers are the most likely to use. Then, name your images accordingly. You can find detailed information about the phrases that your customers are searching for by checking the analytics of your website.
Share Your Images
Sharing your content is a great way to get noticed. As long as you are providing high-quality images, people who discover your content after you share it may decide to link to it on their own, which can be beneficial from an SEO standpoint.
Luckily, visual content performs extremely well on social media and in newsletters. People are naturally drawn to images, making this content ideal for sharing through these channels. The more often you share your content, the more likely it is to get shared with others, helping to expand its reach. You can make it easier for your visitors to share your content, as well, by adding social media sharing buttons to your site.