SEO is essential for one huge, very important reason (as well as a host of other, slightly smaller ones): it can make your content findable. Findability, in turn, creates a world of difference to the success of any website or content.
Google and other search engines have the goal of providing their users with the most relevant, useful information available. In areas of content where is a glut on the market, so to speak, this can make it that much harder to ensure that your content is at the front of the line. Broad search terms like “best Mexican restaurant in Dallas” are going to return a lot of results, veritable pages and pages worth. So unless you’re bringing your SEO game, you might very well get buried.
Whatever your niche is, it doesn’t really matter if you have the most relevant information unless you know how to make your SEO work for you. And when it comes to pictures and other images, effective SEO is built of a lot of puzzle pieces. Choosing and using images wisely within your content can help you level up.
From The Ground Up – Choosing a Relevant File Name
Naming your photo might seem like a small thing. And, technically, it is. But there’s a big difference between a photo that is designated “s1JccI2p” and one that has a relevant name which contains a keyword and a description.
SEO is super competitive, so even a small leg up like this is still a leg up, and you may very well see a difference in your ranking because of it.
Not Too Tall or Too Small – Operating in the Right Dimensions
Layout and composition are two incredibly important aspects of overall design. The overall design is part of what influences who visits your site, and for how long, both of which can also play into your ranking on various search engines.
So optimizing your images also means making sure they fit where they’re supposed to go. Ever heard the comment about square pegs and round holes? Don’t force your images to be used in ways that don’t fit; it won’t do them, or your site, any favors.
If your blog has a space for a horizontal banner image at the top, for instance, it isn’t a sound design decision to use a primarily vertical image and try to stretch it to fit. If your image of choice just isn’t a good fit, look for a similar one with a different layout, or one that can be cropped to adjust it.
If you’re planning on cross-platform promotion (which is a good idea), it’s wise to have platform-specific dimensions ready to hand. Sites like Canva and others are helpful when it comes to knowing the size and layout that you will want for each form of social media.
This aspect of optimization is definitely going to need adjustment depending on your individual site needs, so if you switch up your layout, make sure to reassess your images accordingly.
Compression – Managing File Size
If you have an image-heavy, highly interactive site, it’s going to load more slowly than a text-based site with few visual aspects. That’s just how it works: images and videos “weigh” more than text, so the Internet takes a little longer to “lift” them.
Unfortunately, that can make a big difference to your overall SEO.
Google is all about results. If your site is ineffective, too slow to load, or if people click back out of it because they don’t want to wait around for it, Google will factor that into its algorithms, and your site will lose place in the rankings.
But images also are typically more appealing and can help to capture attention and drive traffic — so what’s to be done?
The answer here lies in file compression. Often, images start off in sizes that are unnecessarily large. Changing the dimensions can cut down on the file size and reduce the workload of rendering your site while keeping the aesthetic appeal; alternatively, running your image or video through a file compression tool like HandBrake for video and we include ShortPixel on all our client WordPress sites can do the same while keeping the original dimensions. Some apps and programs even do this automatically or offer it as an option. Suggested file types include PNG and JPEG, which both have a high-quality threshold even when reduced in size.
We have been recommending PROMO Image Resizer a free photo resizing tool for social media and blog posts. It’s easy to use and gives you a bit of flexibility.
The point is to cut down on load time while retaining the appeal and quality of your images, all of which add up to optimizing your site for search engines.
Choosing Wisely – Image Sourcing and Relevance
Optimization aside, if you get dinged because of illegally using an image, it isn’t going to help the success of your site at all.
This is an increasing concern in today’s content-copyright-conscious world. Ethically, it should be a concern to everyone regardless of their circumstances, but some have sacrificed legalities in favor of not paying for the images they want, and it doesn’t turn out well.
Images generally belong to somebody, and just because there isn’t a disclaimer letting you know, that doesn’t mean that they’re just free to use without credit. Check your image sources, especially when you’re planning on getting them through a third party.
Once you know where you want to source your image from, ensuring the relevance of your choice is the next step. This might require some time; in fact, it almost certainly will. But if you’re interested in providing worthwhile content enhanced with relevant images to facilitate your photo SEO, it’s worth the investment of time and effort.
Describe What You See – Attach Keywords to Images
Altering and adding the alt or title text for each individual image is a huge way to improve your SEO game. Without this added text, Google and other search engines can only analyze the actual content of the image, using that alone to decide what niche it fits into for its users.
Editing the default title text helps not only search engines, but also those in your audience who may be using assistive devices. It provides context for your images, which in turn helps them to show up for target keywords and searches.
Alt/title text can be the difference between “dog” and “black Lab playing with Frisbee.” And if you’re trying to build a site with premiere black Lab/Frisbee content, that’s an important distinction.
Title text works similarly to the file name, providing information on what is actually contained in the image. With SEO, every opportunity to use a keyword should be jumped on, and the title text is definitely an opportunity.
Alt text gives you another chance to use greater detail and keywords to describe the image to search engines and your audience. If your image isn’t able to load, for some reason, the alt text will display, giving the viewer an idea of what the image was about.
Taking these steps towards image SEO best practices will go a long way.