How to Properly Optimize Images for SEO Purposes

How to Properly Optimize Images for SEO Purposes

Images are very important to the success of your website, and that means not only choosing the right one, but also making sure they are properly formatted and optimized for your website.  If you optimize images well, this will ensure that your website visitors have the best possible experience with your website, along with earning you the highest possible rankings in search engine results.

stock photo

Context and Creation

Make sure that your image fits in with your article.  The file you choose should be about the same subject as your article.  Whenever possible, you should use your own images that you have created with an article, even if that means paying a photographer to take pictures for you, rather than using stock photos.  However, it’s understandable that some business owners don’t have the budgets for photographers, so there are free image resources that can provide photos licensed for reuse, without worries of copyright infringement.  Google Image Search, Flickr Creative Commons, and Unsplash all offer images that are available for public use.

Know Which File Type to Use

The most common file types are JPEG, GIF, and PNG, and they can all be used in websites, but some formats are more suitable than others, depending on how the image is being used.  A JPEG  is best for most e-commerce sites, or any situation where pics need to be compressed into smaller file sizes, while still maintaining their quality.    GIFs are usually lower quality, and therefore, should not be used for large product images.  However, GIFs can be used for simple images like icons, and are used widely in animation.  The PNG image is also good for simple, decorative images, but maintains a higher quality than a GIF file.


Before Uploading an Image

Before you upload that image to your website, there are some things to consider, and if necessary, alter.  First, use a file name that relates to the image.  This makes it easy for search engines to understand what the image is showing, along with making it easy for you to find the file if needed.

Scale the image to the size you want displayed on your website, not just shrink the image to fit after you upload it.  This means that you can reduce the file size to the smallest size possible, which will improve the loading speed of your website.  If you still need to reduce the file size, you can remove the EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data.

Make sure the image displays correctly.  That means using the correct aspect ratio, good resolution, and that the image is large enough to display correctly across multiple devices.  Don’t just optimize your images for display on desktop computers, when more people are using cell phones and tablets to view websites.

Placement of the Image

When you are ready to insert the image in your website, make sure it lines up correctly with the rest of the page.  Place the image near the text related to it, and the image shouldn’t break the left reading line.  In other words, you don’t want the image to cause part of your text to have one alignment and the rest of the text a different alignment.


Tags and Attributes

You can add attributes and tags to your images, to provide additional information about them to both website visitors and search engines.  A title attribute is a good way to provide supplementary information about an image, such as what the image means within the context of the article.  Alt text should be added to the image to show a description of the image when the image can’t be displayed, for some reason.  Alt text shows up in a text box when you hover over the image with your mouse.  Use a SEO keyword that relates to the image.

For further SEO benefits, integrate social media tags into your images on your website, which will allow website visitors to easily share your images with others.  Using OpenGraph and Twitter Card tags with your images will allow website visitors to embed your images in their social media posts, and it’s a great way to get exposure for your website.

Include Images in XML Sitemaps

This is something that is often overlooked, particularly if your website uses a lot of images.  However, including your images in the XML sitemap is a way to ensure that search engines can index every single image.  Search engines will eventually find those images on their own, but including them in the sitemap is a good way to speed up that process and get your entire website indexed more quickly.

Images are a must-have for any quality website, but it takes some knowledge and practice to use images appropriately.  Following these best practices for optimizing images for SEO will help your website succeed.

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