Images on the web can be very powerful tools for small business owners looking to grab the attention or convey messages to potential customers online. If you’re smart about optimising these images, you can improve your SEO results with higher keyword positions, increased traffic and more sales/leads through your website.
You have probably heard from SEO experts about how important text is on your website. Having text high up on a webpage is a strategy to help grab Google’s attention especially when it’s balanced with good design and a technically sound website.
Whilst the optimisation of your images is of lesser importance compared to your website text content for instance, it’s still an SEO housekeeping task you should do. It is also a ‘low-hanging fruit’ strategy which may give you that edge on competitors. Shhh… don’t tell everyone.
So why should we optimise images for SEO?
It’s a Ranking Factor
There are over 200 ranking signals that make up Google’s algorithm (apparently). In our opinion, the more boxes you can tick, the better. If you visit the Moz SEO Learning Center for On-Page Ranking Factors, you’ll read that ‘image alt text’ is important to consider for on-page optimisation.
Anything that provides Google with knowledge of what your page is about is a good thing. We’ll delve more into what exactly alt text is below.
Google Image Search
A lot of people still turn to using Google image search, especially when searching for products. For your images to show high up in this section, they need to be aptly optimised so Google knows what searches to show your images for.
Computer screen readers are used for visually impaired online users. These software programs will read the text that is displayed on the webpage with a speech synthesizer or braille display. When they read out the text, they’ll also read out the alt text behind the image to explain what the image is of.
How to Optimise Images for the Web
If you haven’t already heard how important website speed is then you need to get up to speed ASAP. There are many elements that can slow down a webpage from server speed to browser caching.
Typically, ‘Optimize Images’ is high on the list when you run a site through Google’s PageSpeed Tool and it’s also one of the easier suggestions to fix.
All you need to do to reduce the file size and ‘optimise’ the image is:
- Reduce the image size by resizing the dimensions (if the max width of the section on your webpage is only 600px, then there is no need for the image width to be larger than this)
- Or by utilising image compression tools (you can use free online tools like Optimizilla).
We recommend aiming for 100kb or less without reducing the quality of the image.
Prior to uploading the image, we recommend naming the file so it’s SEO-friendly. Google will read this; however, your website visitors won’t see it.
For example, an online gift hamper company should not use DSC1234.jpg as the file name, but instead, rename the image file to gourmet-wine-cheese-hamper.jpg. This states exactly what it is alongside adding a keyword in there.
Alt text (or alternative text/tags) is probably the image attribute which is talked about in the SEO world the most.
This is the text that sits behind the image in the code to explain what the image is of. As mentioned above, screen readers use them, Google reads them, your tooltip can pick them up and for whatever reason your image can’t be displayed – this text will be shown instead.
The alt text behind your images should clearly describe the image. If it’s a product image, make sure you add the product name, brand, colour, etc if applicable. Yoast.com have a great guide on writing alt text.
By Casey Bryan.