5 Things You Need to Know: Image Optimization for SEO
If you’re a company whose content strategy relies on images, or if your business blog is image-heavy, it’s high time for you to think about optimizing your images for SEO — if you haven’t done so already.
While there isn’t an official indication that optimized images are used as a key ranking signal, image optimization is still an important on-page SEO technique that improves load speeds. What does it mean to optimize an image? How do you optimize your visual content for SEO?
Here are 5 things you need to know when it comes to optimizing your website images for SEO.
1. Reducing image file sizes
Reducing the image file size is one of the first steps in optimizing your visual content for SEO. Images are among the larger file types compared to other content and design elements, and this could slow down the page load speed of your website which is a negative ranking signal.
The good news is that images can easily be resized and the file size can be reduced without compromising image quality. You can use free online tools like Optimizilla and TinyPNG to optimize your images while still maintaining a good balance in image quality and file size.
This helps in speeding up the page load speed of your website, which is a nod to Google’s preference for accelerated mobile pages (AMP). A faster site also makes it easier for search engines to index your site.
2. Using file names with keywords relevant to the content
Image file names often have a default technical title, such as “DSCF7292.jpg” or a string of random numbers. Not only is this disorganized, leaving your file name meaningless, it also lessens your chances of it being seen in Google image search results.
To optimize your visual content, start by choosing the right file name. Use keywords and phrases that are relevant to the website content and what the image is all about. For example, if you have an image of teenagers playing a mobile gaming app, you can rename the file as “mobile-gaming-app-for-millenials.jpg.”
This increases your site’s visibility in image searches and helps drive more traffic to your website. Additionally, it’s a good way to keep your website images organized.
3. Editing image ALT tags
An ALT tag is a shorthand name for the alternate text of an image. This is especially useful if your image cannot be displayed for some reason. This often happens when the internet connection is slow or when images are deliberately turned off in the web browser’s settings.
Editing the image ALT tag helps give readers an idea of what the image is when the image cannot be displayed. Note that the ALT tag is different from a caption. Captions are usually one-sentence descriptions for an image. Keep your ALT tags short and sweet, such as “mobile gaming app.” Think of shorthand keywords that are relevant to what the image is showing.
This helps improve the overall user experience, and serve as another way in aiding search engines to index your website.
4. Adding caption to images
While captions are not entirely necessary, it’s still a good idea to add an appropriate image caption when necessary.
When adding a caption, make sure to incorporate a relevant keyword or keyword phrase that succinctly describes the image being shown. Using the same example above, you can use the caption “Ilfusion introduces a new mobile gaming app for millenials.” Single-sentence captions are recommended, so be as descriptive as possible.
People tend to scan an article first before reading it in its entirety, and more often than not, they usually scan the image including the caption when doing so. Image captions are also used for Google’s search index.
5. Adding XML image sitemaps
To further pump up your image optimization strategy, it’s recommended to add image tags to your XML sitemaps. To do so, you can add image-specific tags to your existing sitemap, or you can use a separate sitemap altogether to list images. You can also use free tools in generating image sitemaps.
Image sitemaps aid Google in receiving metadata, or additional information, about the images contained in your website. Sometimes web crawlers may overlook some images in your site, and adding image tags to your sitemap helps Google discover these overlooked images.
It’s important to take note that for image optimization to be effective, this must be done to all images on your website — from your header, to featured images, and to content images.image alt tags, image captions, image optimization, reduce file sizes, relevant keywords, seo optimization, xml sitemaps