What You'll Learn in This Post
Why Do You Want to Optimize Your Photos?
Before we talk about SEO friendly images, let’s look at how Google sees your website and blog.
This is what we see…
This is what Google sees…
Search engines only see the code behind our websites.
Which means, Google is looking to piece together information that identifies the subject matter of your blog and each individual blog post.
It reads your text, page titles, meta descriptions, and yes, images. And because Google penalizes sites that over uses keywords, our job is to give search engines as many clues, in as many different ways, as possible.
This is why optimizing photos is a great way to improve your SEO.
1. Image Name
Often overlooked by many, using keywords in the actual file name of your images can be a great way to clue search engines as to the main topic of your post.
For example, instead of naming my website logo simply ‘logo.png’ or ‘janet-childs.png,’ I included a keyword.
When search engines spider my site they see ‘seo-for-blogs-by-janet-childs.png’ for my image and now have one more indication as to what my blog is all about.
2. Image ALT Tag
The image ALT tag was originally created as a textual alternative to your image. When used, it give additional information to website visitors. This is especially important to those who are visually impaired and using screen readers.
This is also a great place to include the focus keyword for the page.
There are several ways to add your image ALT tags in WordPress. Some themes take the information from WordPress media library, while others, like Divi, need to have tags added within the image module. (see below)
3. Image Title
Image Title is similar to the image ALT tag, in that it is designed to provide the visitor with more information about the image.
And just like the image ALT tag, it is a great way to incorporate keywords, giving search engines more data to index your blog.
Here are the two places you can add both the image ALT tag and the image title.
The first is within the WordPress media library when first uploading your image.
The second is within your theme. I use and recommend Divi by Elegant Themes. It is both user friendly for beginners and has several unique options, making it a good choice for SEO.
4. Image File Size
I was going through some files on my hard drive the other day, and came across an old website I had created for our farm. For kicks, I decided to take a look and compare it to our current site.
The first thing I noticed? All of the photos were SO small.
I mean ridiculously small. But, back then it was the only way to insure that images loaded as quickly as possible.
You see, finding the balance between photo size, quality, and image load time is a struggle web designers have faced for years.
So with faster internet and larger computer screens, why is it more important than ever?
It use to be that only visitors cared.
If your site took too long to load, visitors could easily hit the back button and find one that offered the same products and services and provided a better user experience.
Don’t get me wrong. User experience is still the number one reason you want to optimize your images for faster load times.
It just turns out that Google cares about user experience too.
Statistically, sites that load under 2 seconds have higher engagement rates. And for every second you go over that? Site abandonment increases exponentially.
Because of this, search engines like to rank sites that load quicker.
There are several ways to decrease the file size of your images.
Most photo editors allow you to compress the file size right inside of the editor. But I have gotten the best results from using WordPress plugins specifically designed for image optimization.
Hands down, this is my favorite.
The free plan allows you to optimize images with file sizes up to 2MB and a total of 25MB images a month.
If you have not been using a plugin to optimize your images and have a lot of catching up to do, they offer a buy-what-you-need option to get you through your initial batch.
After which, the 25 MB per month is typically enough for most bloggers. If you need more, their month fee is very reasonable.
Imagify optimizes all three popular file formats including JPG, PNG and GIF and offers three optimization levels:
1. Normal – Relies on lossless compression
2. Aggressive – Uses lossy compression while minimizing data loss
3. Ultra – Again, uses lossy compression but goes one step further and allows for minor image degradation
I prefer the ‘aggressive’ level which minimizes the file size with no image degradation.
WP Smush is another popular image optimizing plugin. And actually the one I first used on all my sites.
Like Imagify, WP Smush free account offers limited functionality. However, it only allows for lossless compression and a maximum file size of 1MB.
The other issue I had with WP Smush was that it seemed to slow down my editing process. I don’t know that there are any identified conflicts with Divi. Who knows, maybe it was just me.
A couple of side notes before moving on.
First, I only activate the plugin while using it. Once I am done editing, I deactivate the plugin.
Although it shouldn’t make a difference to overall web site speed, while testing my plugins, I found that it did. And truly, you don’t need it unless you’re adding new images.
Because of the lag time I experienced while editing content, I tend to leave the plugin deactivated until I am through editing. Then once I am done, I activate the plugin, go into my media file, and optimize images one at a time.
This is definitely an extra step and takes a bit longer, but I seemed to experience fewer compatibility issues this way. I recommend trying both to see which you prefer.
5. Image Sharing
I know. Visitors sharing your content isn’t something you typically think of when it comes to SEO.
So the question is… Will image sharing help your search engine rankings?
As Google continues to look for ways to identify high value, content rich websites to rank, it appears that social proof will begin to play a bigger role.
By providing images that are easy for visitors to post on social media you are both encouraging them to hit the share button and making sure that the images used, best represent your blog.
I recommend two to three promotional images for each blog post. (By promotional, I mean an image that represents the post with the blog post title included.)
Depending on what social media is most effective for your niche, consider having one that works as your a feature image and can be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Another for Pinterest. If your audience is big on Instagram, and possible another for Instagram.
SEO Friendly Images
Remember, it is our job to give search engines as many clues as possible as to the subject matter of our blogs.
By combining all five tips above you will create SEO friendly images, allowing search engines to best identify your relevant keywords. SEO friendly images, along with other SEO tactics, will help you rank higher in search engines.
Let me know in the comments below, if this post was helpful, or if you have any additional questions on how to optimize photos for SEO.