Zooming In on Image SEO

Image SEO

Image SEO is the brussel sprout of the SEO world; often overlooked and underrated. Like the neglected vegetable, it’s only appreciated by a minority of website owners, and this makes it the perfect opportunity to get ahead of your competitors. Top tip: Fry your chopped brussel sprouts with bacon and leeks. You can thank me later.

Image SEO, on the other hand, is not quite so delicious, but there is a recipe for success.

Image SEO Explained

Image SEO is a way of optimising images so that they’re easier for search engines to understand, ultimately helping your website rank better in search engine results.

It encompasses such considerations as image file size, image file type, and image titles and alt text.

How Can Image SEO Help Your Website Rank Better?

Optimising your images for search engines makes them easier for crawlers to find and interpret.

Consequently, your web pages get a boost on SERPs because they are more discoverable.

Not optimising your images for search engines can harm your overall SEO, as you’ll be missing out on opportunities to rank higher on search results pages, which crucially, can negatively impact organic traffic to your site. Let’s not forget that image SEO also helps webpages to load faster, which will help with page performance and brand perception.

Incorporating Image SEO Strategies

Get into good habits when preparing images for your website and image SEO will become a breeze. This includes setting correct dimensions of images before you upload them, and choosing appropriate file names.

Scale Images

The dimensions of your images should be correct before you upload them to your website.

While you can upload them as they are and rely on your CMS to resize them for you, this won’t make the image size any smaller. By setting the correct dimensions beforehand, you avoid the scenario of having needlessly large file sizes, which can slow down your loading speed and effect SERP ranking as well as causing a poor user experience. Find out the ideal pixel size for your image and alter this before uploading.

Compress Images

Since page speed is one of Google’s ranking factors, you want to do everything you can to ensure your pages are loading as quickly as possible.

Large image files can negatively impact loading speed, and while altering the dimensions before uploading can help with this, it isn’t always the answer. For pages that have a lot of images, consider compressing images to reduce size and loading time without affecting image quality. Some website plugins enable you to compress page images in bulk, or alternatively you can use tools for individual image compression.

Don’t Forget Alt Text

Alt text is the words used to describe an image, and it serves two important purposes.

First off, the text can be helpful to visually impaired users who are unable to see the image, or it can describe the image to users who cannot load the image.

Secondly, the alt text helps crawlers ‘read’ your image to understand what it’s about, which will positively affect rankings. Google itself explains the significance of alt text, stating “the most important attribute when it comes to providing more metadata for an image is the alt text”. When creating alt text imagine you are describing the image to someone who can’t see it. A few words are rarely enough; be as specific as you can.

Image alt text
The image alt text ‘Cherry layer cake’ is much better than ‘image362’.

Fitting File Names

Using appropriate file names helps to give search engines clues to what your image is about. Similarly to alt text, this helps Google read your image and appropriately index it, boosting search rankings.

Avoid using generic file names for your images such as ‘image0045.jpg’, which give no indication to search engines what the image could represent. Instead, name files according to their subject matter and use hyphens or underscores to separate words, for example, ‘convertible-red-car.jpg’.

Consider Captions

In many cases, web pages are structured in a way that makes the images self-explanatory. For example, on a fashion product page selling a jacket it would be unnecessary to caption the image ‘brown jacket’. However, there are some instances where captions can be useful to help users and crawlers understand the context of the image.

Image Captions Example
For example, in the news story below which revealed the line-up for the Glastonbury festival, users may not have known who the image was depicting without the caption beneath it. Source.

Use Original Media

Using original images over stock images is always going to give you an edge over your competition. Google prioritises original content, including images, so you should always use your own photos or graphs where possible. Original media will help you to stand out from competitors and also make your content more share-worthy.

Sitemap Images

Google recommends using a sitemap for images to help ensure they get found. You can add image sitemap tags to your existing sitemap, or create a new sitemap purely for your images. Either of these image SEO options work well for Google.

Use Supported File Types

In order to ensure a good user experience with images that load properly and are not blurry, you need to be using image formats that are supported. BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG files are all supported by Google. Ensuring the extension of your file type matches the name of your file will also help to eliminate loading issues.

Utilise Keywords

Keywords are not just for written content, they’re also useful for images. Including keywords in your image file names or image alt text will help the images get found in a Google image search, which is another way to increase organic traffic to your website.

Optimise for Mobile

With Googles mobile-first initiative, Google bots crawl the internet from the perspective of a mobile browser. This means it’s vital that your images look good on a mobile device.

Read also: Mobile SEO: Everything You Need to Know

Using responsive techniques will allow your images to be resized accordingly by the browser, depending on what type of device the page is being viewed on.

Final Words

Optimising your images for search engines can improve your website on several levels. User experience and website load time is improved with faster loading images, and your content is more discoverable with appropriate alt text and image file names.

When there is so much competition for the top spots in search engine results, every little thing you can do to optimise your website will count towards getting your site further up that ranking list.

Need some help? Reach out to us today.

But first things first, who’s got a hankering for brussel sprouts?

Karli Edmondson-Matthews
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