Image Optimization Guide

Wondering how to optimize your website’s images to boost your search engine rankings? Here is the ultimate image optimization guide with the best image optimization tips to help your company boost its search engine rankings

Name your images descriptively. Naming your images descriptively is one of the most important image optimization tips to improve your website’s search engine rankings. You want descriptive, keyword-rich file names, as search engines not only crawl the text on your websites, but also search for keywords within your image file names. Before you name your images, you want to do a bit of research. Look at your website analytics and find what keywords and phrase patterns your customers are using in your search queries. You can then strategically use this information when crafting image descriptions.

Optimize your alt tags. When a browser can’t render an image properly, it will display an alt tag, or a text alternate. Even when the image is properly rendered by the browser, if a user hovers his or her mouse over the image, the alt tag associated with the image will be displayed. Alt attributes in general, including alt tags, are an excellent way to add SEO value to a website and improve search engine rankings. Alt tags, specifically, help to associate content with keywords.

Remember, size matters. Research shows that users are willing to wait about three seconds for a website to load on a desktop and about five seconds for a website to load on mobile. Any longer, and they will likely abandon the site. Amazon actually found that a one-second increase in loading time on its website can translate into financial losses of $1.6 billion per a year. And while page-loading time is obviously crucial for user experience, it also matters quite a bit for search engine rankings, as Google uses page-loading time as a factor in its ranking algorithm.

Large images will negatively impact loading speed, so it is important to pay attention to the size of your images. Try to keep your image file sizes below 70kb. But remember that while size does matters, smaller isn’t necessarily better. The key is to see how small you can get them without sacrificing visual quality.

Know when to use which file type. There are three different kinds of images file types: JPEG, GIF, and PNG. JPEG images can be compressed considerably without sacrificing image quality, which results in high-quality images with a low file size. GIFs are smaller, lower-quality images, often used for icons and decorative images. While it is a good idea to use GIFs for plain, simple images on webpages to keep file sizes low, it is best to avoid them for more complex images and photos, as they aren’t rendered as attractively as JPEGs. Lastly, PNG images tend to be larger than JPEGs or GIFs, but support many more colors and typically render higher-quality images.

Use thumbnail images intelligently. If you aren’t careful, thumbnails can kill your page loading times, especially on ecommerce sites where each product tends to have an accompanying thumbnail image. Make sure your thumbnail images are as small as possible, and also make sure you are varying your alt tags and descriptions to avoid duplicate content.

Always test your images. This image optimization tip should go without saying, but just in case you’ve forgotten, we’re here to remind you, as our ultimate image optimization guide wouldn’t be complete without it. It is absolutely crucial to test your images. You need to optimize your images for search engines, yes, but you also need to ensure that your images are having a positive impact on your conversion funnel. So test, test, test to see what images and what combinations have the best impact.

4 Responses to “The Ultimate Image Optimization Guide for Better Search Engine Rankings”

  1. Hey thanks for this post, Peggy! I was curious whether you have any rough guidelines for image size as far as thumbnails go, particularly in an eCommerce context?

    • admin_lori

      Thanks Kalen for your comment. As far as thumbnails go, I think it depends on how many you have on the same page. Remember that users don’t want to wait more than 3 seconds for a website page to load (I even think this is too long). You should probably try to keep each thumbnail under 10kb if you can, again depends on the size and how many on a page. When using an image tool like photoshop, and saving for web, try to save the image for the exact pixel size it will be seen at, and as low in quality as you can go before the image doesn’t look good or the colours start to shift too much. Good Luck Kalen and let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Hey thanks for the response! I would have replied sooner but didn’t get any email notification about your response! :/ (disqus comments ftw!)


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