9 Image Optimization Tips to Boost your SEO Score

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: July 18th, 2016 | Updated: September 16th, 2022

Images are essential for websites, because they help emphasize a point and provide visualization of your message. However, images are not just for visual design, user experience, or a supplement to your textual content, it is also essential to your SEO score. That’s why it’s imperative to optimize your images for search engines as well.

Here are nine essential tips to keep in mind.

1. Use the right image.

Don’t use a picture just for the sake of having an image there. Images should reflect what you’re talking about in your article or what you’re selling if you have an e-commerce website.

If you have the means to do photo shoots and capture images, then you would have no problem generating pictures that you need. However, there are those with limited resources and would have to rely on another image source to find pictures for their website.

The good news is there’s a wide pool of photo sources available online today, but the challenge comes with sifting through these virtual galleries in order to find the images that match your needs. For a start, you can go to popular websites the features free images like Flickr.com, Pixabay, Unsplash, and Public Domain Archive.

9 Image Optimization Tips to Boost your SEO Score

Example Image c/o Pixabay

Be mindful of the license provided and rules for using those pictures. Do you need to cite the owner? Can it be used for commercial purposes? Be sure to comply with these guidelines to avoid conflict and lawsuits.

2. Write appropriate file names.

Search engines also pay attention to the file name of your images to understand what they’re all about. So don’t skimp on time when writing file names and make sure that they are descriptive enough. For instance, if you’re featuring an image of a luxury bag in your post, it’s best to set the file name according to its brand and model.

3. Determine the right file format to use.

File format is another essential factor that you need to work on for images you want to use on the web. Today, there are three formats usually used for images online, and these are:

JPEG (.jpg) – JPEG is a file type used when you want to reduce the image size without compromising on the quality too much. While a JPEG file may not be as sharp as the original image, the loss in detail is not so obvious. It can be considered as the default image format for most images on the Internet today.
GIF (.gif) – GIF is used for more simple images such as icons and animations. It only supports 236 colors, which means that it’s not an ideal format for pictures that need to show intricate details like a product shot or a landscape image.
PNG (.png) – PNG is a fairly new file type compered to JPEG and GIF. However, it’s better than GIF and doesn’t decrease in quality like JPEG does. However, it’s bigger in size and not widely supported.

4. Compress your images.

Page speed is a ranking factor for Google, and the size of your images can affect how long a webpage will load. The larger the size, the slower the load time.

If you’re using Adobe Photoshop, you can use the “save for web” option to reduce the size of your image before uploading it to your website. Otherwise, you can use other free and simpler to tools such as PicMonkey, Pixlr, or FotoFlexer.

Meanwhile, if you want smaller dimensions for your images, don’t just simply edit the source code. Because regardless if it’s proportionally reduced, the file size remains large and it can take a toll on your page speed.

5. Don’t neglect putting an alt text.

Alt text is short for alternative text. It appears when you hover your cursor over an image or if there’s a problem with loading the photo. Optimizing your alt text is a way to describe what’s in the picture to search engines as well as visually impaired users who use screen readers when they surf the web.

If you want to boost your SEO score, you can incorporate appropriate keywords in your alt text. Don’t use keywords like “luxury bags for sale best deal”. Keep it in context and make it understandable by search engine crawlers and users alike. Also, you can check with your website analytics to determine how users key in their queries that lead to your website and pattern your alt text from there.

6. Manage your thumbnails accordingly.

For e-commerce websites, thumbnails provide shoppers an easy way to browse through your products and catalogs. However if images used as thumbnails are not compressed enough, they can slow down loading times which can turn potential clients off. So keep them as small as possible. Don’t worry too much about quality as they are not designed to be big and detailed anyway.

Also, make sure that the alt tag for the thumbnail is different from its bigger and clearer version so that search engines will not have a hard time determining which to index.

7. Avoid third-party image hosting services.

Steer clear away from third-party image hosting websites. While they can appear beneficial in terms of saving space and bandwidth, there’s always the risk of your images being deleted or blocked especially when they are loaded with traffic. This results to images not showing up in your website. That’s something you wouldn’t want to take a risk on, especially in terms of user experience.

8. Use an image sitemap.

An image sitemap provides more information about the images used on your website even those that are loaded by a JavaScript code. If you have an existing sitemap, you can simply add image details on it. Otherwise, you can create a separate one for your images. Regardless of which you opt to do, you need to use the proper tags as recommended by Google.

9. Refer to Google Posting Guidelines.

Google has set out image posting guidelines that can help you optimize your pictures better for user experience and SEO score. If in case you want to clarify anything or want to make sure that you’re adhering to the best practices, you can refer to it here.

Web content and optimization is not just about textual information like articles and blog posts. It involves a myriad of elements such as images. If you want to dominate the SERPs, don’t overlook image optimization and make sure that you allot time for it and follow the nine tips discussed.

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