SEO is a prominent digital marketing channel with three major parts — on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Images affect all three SEO areas, and hence image optimization is considered the crucial element of the SEO campaign.
After Google announced the page experience signals to become part of its search ranking algorithm, image optimization became a need of an hour.
Despite regular search queries that land people on blog articles and a website’s particular section, people search for the images too.
Here is a big deal.
With a few image SEO tips mentioned below, you can rank your images in Google image search and drive more organic traffic to your website.
The ranking results are also quicker than regular blog articles.
I have discussed what is image optimization in SEO and the ten easiest image optimization tips that help you drive significant organic traffic in the article below.
What is Image Optimization in SEO?
Image optimization primarily focuses on reducing the image size to the lowest without compromising on quality.
It significantly improves the page speed experience.
Other image SEO tips include adding proper titles and alt tags to your images, choosing the appropriate dimensions, and creating an image sitemap.
These tips will help your site rank better in the image search and generate a few organic visits.
What is Need for Image Optimization?
There are three main reasons for optimizing website images and other visual elements.
Improves Page Speed
Images and page speed correlate with each other.
A large number of unoptimized images on a web page affect the loading time.
Compressing, resizing, lazy loading, or serving these images in the next-gen format improves the page speed.
Enhances User Experience
Relevant and attractive visuals improve audience engagement.
Properly sized, attractive, and fast-loading enhances the user experience significantly.
At the same time, it sends positive signals to search engines resulting in better search rankings.
Assists in SEO and Marketing Campaigns
Images are more effective than regular text content. Well-designed images enable users to stay on a page for a long time.
Ranking high in the images search may drive some organic visits.
If you have impressive images or infographics, you may receive backlinks to your page, assisting in your off-page effort.
Finally, sharing well-optimized images on popular social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr attract additional traffic.
10 Actionable Image Optimization Tips in SEO
Although CSS helps you in site beautification, images are the unavoidable visual elements.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to optimize images for SEO and human visitors.
Find the Relevant Images for Your Blog
Always use highly relevant images on your website that complements your text content.
That creates a positive impression on the user’s mind and may increase dwell-time.
I have two major resources for blog images.
Using Stock-Photos and Vector Graphics
Many people use Google images in their blog articles, which are downloaded thousands of times.
Some of these pictures may be copyrighted. Search engines may penalize you for using such images.
Even if you are resizing your images, Google’s search engine algorithm is smart, which now comes with features like Vision AI.
So, never game the system to showcase your over-smartness to the tech-giant working on the driverless car in Silicon Valley.
It’s better to pick the images from resources that offer copyright-free images and stock photos. Or, you can use Google’s advanced image search option along with proper usage rights.
Ignoring these basic things may put you in big trouble, causing a loss of keyword rankings, traffic, and revenue.
Here are the best sites for downloading royalty-free images.
I personally use and recommend Pixabay, Freepik, and Unsplash that have a database of over a million images.
You can also download royalty-free images from premium photo sharing sites like Shutterstock to buy images for your blog.
Creating Your Images
Using free images and stock photos is the easiest way to deal with a site’s image needs, but thousands of bloggers frequently use these pictures making your site look an ordinary one.
Sometimes, you may not find the perfect image to add to your article.
In such a case, you need to create custom images.
Shooting beautiful snaps with your digital camera or smartphone, designing custom graphics, or capturing screenshots are other ways to create images for your site.
You can use various design tools such as Canva, Adobe Photoshop, or Illustrator to generate graphical elements.
By doing this, you hold image copyrights, and no one will dare to bother you anyway unless you have used trademarked or offensive elements in your images.
Canva is my favorite online graphic designing tool.
An intuitive user interface, premade templates, and mind-blowing features like cool fonts, styling, and free design elements make Canva a top online image creation tool.
Canva supports multiple file formats, including JPG, PNG, and even PDF that helps you create custom images with minimum effort.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional graphic designer or not.
Choose a Perfect Image Title (File Name)
Just like other digital contents images also have a file name. So, make sure you have named the images properly before uploading to your site.
Many people just download the images from other sources and upload to their sites. They may think image title/file name does not make any sense.
Choosing a perfect name for your images help a lot in the search engine optimization. Using a keyword-rich image title, you can get a chance to rank your images at a prominent position in search results.
Suppose, you are writing an article about low budget hotels in Goa. It’s better to name your images using long tail keywords like “low-budget-hotels-in-Goa” etc.
You can exclude the stop words and the dashes between the image title. If you are using WordPress, the space between two consecutive is automatically replaced by a dash in image URL. But, making your image title relevant to your copy and readable to both search engines as well as human visitors is more beneficial to you.
You can write titles of your images in different ways but selecting a perfect one makes sense when it’s possible.
However, if you are using so many images in a single article, don’t stuff keywords in image titles. It’s always better to keep a distance from Black-Hat SEO.
Look at below and decide which format of image title you want to use on your website.
- Wrong format: “xhjhsk178.jpg”
- Okay Format: “lowbudgethotelsinGoa.jpg”
- Perfect Format: “low-budget-hotels-in-goa.jpg”
Use Appropriate Image Dimensions
I have already mentioned earlier that site loading speed is a crucial factor in SEO. Not only Google but people also don’t like the slow loading sites. Eventually, they may abandon your site only due to poor site speed.
Now, you may think what the relationship between site speed and images is.
Am I right?
Yes, images affect website loading time. The graphical components especially images in most cases hold around 30-70% of the total page size. So, using the high-resolution images unnecessarily which take considerable time to load affecting overall page speed and SEO.
It’s better to define the dimensions and quality of images before uploading to your site. The high-resolution images unnecessarily increase file size so that resizing images to the required width and height is beneficial.
How to Set Image Dimensions
For the blog articles, the image size should be a minimum of 250/250px.
You can upload even smaller images but not giving a great feeling as a visual component. Moreover, if someone wants to share your images on the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or pin to their Pinterest board, minimum resolution matters a lot.
Still, this is not a recommendation, and you can set any size as your lower limit because some icons or logos may be smaller than this size.
According to me, 750 X 420px (16:9) is a good resolution you can commonly use for multiple platforms.
Again, it’s not a final because there are various platforms recommending different image dimensions. For normal usage, it’s fine to stick to my suggestion.
However, if you have downloaded the images with large dimensions, resize or crop them before uploading to your site that lowers the file size.
Don’t resize them after uploading to your website because when the web page loads in the browser, the original size remains same even you have resized the image and does not help in improving page speed.
If you have downloaded a stock image and it’s too large in dimensions, then it is better to resize it and then upload it. Don’t upload the image in its original size and resize it using the height and width parameters of your post editor.
You can use simple tools like PicResize or even the Paint application on your PC.
Compress Images to the Smaller File Size
When you upload the high-quality stock images directly to your website, it adds a lot of pressure on your web server to load those images. High-quality images generally have larger file size (triple digit in KB or in MB) that increases overall web page size resulting in reduced loading speed.
By resizing the images, you can make images smaller in size but what about the images which already have a resolution around 500 X 500px?
You simply can’t resize them to even smaller dimensions to reduce the file size; you need to compress them.
Compressing the images will decrease the file size significantly (up to 80% of their original file size without losing too much quality).
CompressJPG.com and TinyPNG.com are a couple of useful resources for image compression. These sites compress images without any distortion or making them pixelated/blurry. I personally use these sites to compress images and get around 60-75% of compression without seeing much difference in the picture quality.
If your website is dedicated to providing high-quality wallpapers or similar purpose, then compressing the images and uploading to your site won’t help you alone. People want high-quality images, but when you compress these images, they lose quality. With smaller dimensions, it won’t make any considerable difference, but the zooming in or scaling to large canvas can make them pixelated.
If your clients use these images for outdoor advertising like Media flex or ad banners, then it would be an irritating experience.
To solve this problem, you can simply upload your images to the external file hosting sites like Dropbox and link to the image thumbnails on your website.
When someone clicks on the image thumbnail for download, he will be redirected to the external file hosting server where you have stored your images.
There are few other ways to deal with this issue like buying more powerful resources or using CDN to distribute static contents, but the method I have mentioned here is better than almost all of them.
Use Appropriate ALT Text
The ALT text itself describes the reason for using it. The ALT text or alternative text provides information about your image files. Search engines are not able to read your images completely without adding relevant information like title, ALT text or description.
When you add appropriate alternative text to your images, search engine spiders can better understand your images and rank them accordingly for requested queries. It means you can lose potential traffic if you haven’t optimized your images for ALT text.
Sometimes, images do not appear for whatsoever reason like poor rendering, etc. then the ALT text will be displayed at the place of the image. So, make sure you have a perfectly optimized post with alternative text that is related to your copy.
How to Choose the ALT Text
Now, you know what the advantages of using the ALT text are, but you may be thinking about how to choose it.
The ALT text is the best place to optimize your images around the focused keyword. By adding your desired keyword in the alternative text, you can increase the chances of getting a higher position in image search results.
However, you need to know how to choose and use ALT text wisely. Random optimization practices like keyword stuffing or using irrelevant keyword don’t make any sense. Another important thing, avoid using duplicate alternative text and make sure they are wildly different than each other.
Use the image which is the most relevant to your content and then enter an appropriate keyword as ALT text is a right way for image optimization.
You can use a long tail version of your keyword or the phrase that people search in Google. Don’t add dashes between two consecutive words for ALT text. Just put your keyword or phrase as “low budget hotels in Goa” and that’s it.
Using the single word (broad) or a paragraph in the place of alternative text won’t help you that much compared to proper 4-6 words version.
How to Add ALT texts in the Images?
The simple way to insert the alternative text to your images is from the Media Library of your website. You can directly put an appropriate keyword there as an ALT text.
When you upload your images, try to fill all necessary data like Title, ALT Text, Caption, and Description, etc. You can add this information even later by going to Media Library.
You can also add the ALT text from the editor of your website. Simply add, the following code in your editor;
<img src=”low-budget-hotels-in-goa.jpg” alt=”low budget hotels in Goa”/>
Here, alt=”low budget hotels in Goa” represents your ALT text in the HTML version. If you don’t know how to code, then the first method is a better option for you.
One more thing, unless your image and its data are not relevant to your article (text around the image), it does not make any sense adding tons of beautiful images only to increase the length of your blog post.
The bottom line,
By perfectly optimizing your images for search engines as well as human visitors with the appropriate alternative text you can get better SEO score than your competitors.
Choosing a Prefered Image Format – JPEG, PNG or GIF?
You know there are different image formats available including JPEG (JPG), PNG and GIF, BMP, TIFF, and RAW. JPEG, PNG, and GIF are widely used by many bloggers.
JPEG Format: JPEG is the most commonly used image format due to the highest possible quality with minimum file size compared to other formats. But, it does not support transparency and has lossy compression.
Still, I prefer using JPEG images as they offer a smaller file size for the same quality compared to the other equivalent image formats.
PNG Format: PNG is a good alternative for JPEG images which offers amazing lossless compression. Even if you edit your image several times or process for resize compression, it won’t degrade in quality.
It also supports transparency which is useful in some cases like the logo. Though it’s an excellent format, the file size is quite high compared to the JPEG format for the same quality. For capturing screenshots, PNG is better image format gives decent quality.
GIF Format: GIF is another popular format that supports animation and also transparency. But, the quality of GIF is not up to other formats like JPG and PNG, etc.
Among all the image formats, JPEG seems the best choice for the blog images because it offers good quality images with minimum file size. The smaller image size reduces overall web page weight because it helps in loading site quickly that is one of the ranking factors in SEO.
Adding Image Sitemap to the Search Console
If you are in the field of SEO, then you might know what sitemap is. But, for other people, the sitemap is an index or list of pages on your site where all contents that you want to rank in SERP are designed in a hierarchical manner. It helps both human visitors and especially search engine bots to navigate your website quickly.
By adding a sitemap to the search engines (by using webmaster tools/search console), you can request search engine spiders to crawl your pages and images to index in the search results.
Through image sitemap, search engines receive the metadata regarding the images on your site. It helps search engine to discover the images which may not find through regular crawling. Adding relevant details like title, geographic location, image type, and license, etc. in standard sitemap you can increase your chances to rank higher in image search.
If you run a website/blog where nothing to do with images, then you can keep this task aside. But, for other niches like photography, tourism, technology, feature gadgets and website where you add product images, creating an image sitemap and adding to the webmaster’s tools account is something that you should do with priority. So, your images can get indexed and appear in search results on prominent position giving you massive reach and occasionally huge traffic incoming.
Don’t you think so?
How To Create Image Sitemap?
Don’t worry! Creating an image sitemap is not very difficult. You can use the WordPress plugin – Complete Image Sitemap and or other online resources.
Some of them are free while others may cost you a few bucks but for the sites containing a ton of images, it worth paying for such useful tools.
Once you have created the image sitemap and submitted it to the search engines, all images will be crawled by spiders and indexed in SERP.
Using Image Captions And Description
The image caption is visible to the human visitors on your web page. It let them know what you want to say through that particular image.
You can give credit to image author if you are using it from an external source. Still, image caption should convey your message clearly whether it’s a name for the image, credit link or information about the event in that particular image.
The description is something you want to add extra to the image more than the title and ALT text. You can add around 2-3 lines of text describing your image. But, make sure you are doing it properly following the SEO guidelines.
Though it’s not compulsory, adding the caption or description may help you in improving user experience and SEO value.
When you make the image clickable, it helps people to view the enlarged version. You can also link another article or external source through a custom hyperlink to your blog images just like banner ads.
But, sometimes you may face trouble if someone is hotlinking your image. It eats up your resources for no reason. If you find such things happening to your images, approach to the blog owner who is hotlinking your image and tell him either remove it or give you proper credit.
If you are using CDN (Content Delivery Network), then it may not issue for you. But, think about a different angle, if someone is linking to your image, he is actually giving backlink to your site which is a major factor in Off-Page SEO. By serving your images (static contents) over CDN, you won’t get benefit from those backlinks.
Now, you have to decide whether let others link to your images or not.
Making Images Shareable
If you think the images you create are worth sharing, then make them shareable. You can use WordPress plugins like SumoMe for this purpose. In case, you get maximum image shares, then most probably it helps to improve the social signal for your site improving your SEO score.
Using WordPress Plugins For Image Optimization Purpose
You can find many plugins for image optimization. SEO Friendly Images, WP Smush, EWWW Image Optimizer and TinyPNG, etc. are a few of them. These plugins are useful in resizing, compressing and similar activities needed for the image optimization with the few clicks.
Test The Number Of Images Per Page
You already know, more images on page increase overall page size affecting the site loading time. So, keeping an appropriate number of images per page is a better option.
If you are using an e-commerce site, then it becomes critical where images are a crucial factor in user engagement and conversion. Still, you can test how many the products are necessary to get maximum sales.
Test User Experience
With analytics, you can easily find CTR and visitor engagement of your site. If you have cluttered the website with irrelevant graphics, then the most probably people leave your site immediately which increases bounce rate. So optimizing images for website users is a vital part of SEO.
Apart from that, test the angles, lights and color schemes people like the most to provide better user experience.
The blog posts with infographics get more social shares compared to those without.
Infographics let audience easily digest the maximum information within minimum time by using a graphical aid. It’s trending in the blogging industry so that you should focus on optimizing infographics in a proper way.
Pinterest is a great source of the web traffic if you share your images especially infographics there with linking back to your blog articles.
Leverage Social Media
What is the relation between image optimization and social media?
You might think like that.
Am I right?
Yes, here is something special for you. You definitely know these couple of things; the right images improve engagement and the second one, social media can drive a lot of referral traffic.
Why not leverage both things?
Export your image theme across multiple image dimensions depending on the social media channel you want to leverage and share them with giving a link back to your site.
Find which social media channels are the best for your niche and use them for promotion. It’s the method where a thousand words article won’t help as much as a single image.
Do you get, why the image is powerful than a thousand words?
I know how much time you spend on writing a perfect optimized post. So, don’t let your efforts go waste only for an insane mistake.
By following the simple practices mentioned here, you can optimize your images for both human visitors as well as search engines. I’m pretty sure that with these simple tips you will start seeing the positive results soon.
If you have liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends. If you have any query or suggestion, let me know by using the comment section below.
Also, mention which strategies you use for image optimization to rank in search results.