Our brains are hardwired to love imagery. Great images make us lean in and read a headline. They make the best first impressions with regard to brands, products, and articles. They can evoke instant emotions, intrigue us and draw us in. We are visual beings. Images are much more powerful and easier for us to comprehend than mere text. Due to our visual wiring, we recall 20 percent of what we read, 10 percent of what we see, and 80 percent of what we see and do. In fact, it only takes us as little as 13 ms to process a visual. We are always on the lookout for images because they produce emotions, and emotions create a deep connection.
The fact is that people engage more in great visual content than any other external input. We simply love images. And the thing is – so does Google. This is why optimizing images for SEO can make a great deal of difference in your rankings.
So how do we optimize images for search engines? Let’s find out.
How Image Optimization Affects SEO
One of the main reasons why images tend to be overlooked when reviewing SEO is because it’s easy to forget just how many photos you have on your website. The chances are that you perhaps only had a few images on your site when it was first built. However, over time, you probably added more and more images to your site, which will impact your SEO.
Image Size and Load Speed
It’s no secret that Google rewards websites with fast page speeds because they create a better user experience. When images take too long to load, causing people to leave your site, it increases your bounce rate, which is flagged by Google and your rankings go down. So, the first thing you should check is the relationship between the images on your site and the load speed.
The trick here is to scale your images down as much as possible without compromising the image quality. It is helpful to use the correct file formats. For example, you should use JPEG file format for large photos and illustrations to provide clarity. If you want to preserve background transparency, it’s advisable to use PNG file format. For logos and icons, you should use SVG. There are several tools freely available that will help you convert your images to different file formats. You should also pay attention to pixel size and get in the habit of resizing the images before uploading them on to your site.
Image File Names
It’s important to ensure that you are naming your images correctly when adding them to your site. If you upload an image under the name of something like ‘IMG_2558.jpg’, it will mean absolutely nothing to search engines. And while Google’s Cloud Vision API has become pretty good at using machine learning to understand images, it should certainly not be relied on for accuracy. You can and you should help search engines to derive information from your images easier – name your images to accurately reflect and describe the visual, but avoid keyword stuffing.
Alt Text and Image Description
The Alt (Alternative) Text and Description fields are visible to users when the images don’t load correctly. Those with vision impairments also use this function. At first glance, you might feel that these fields are unimportant, but in fact, they further promote the relevance of your images to search engines and therefore affect your website rankings. The thing to remember is that the more ways Google’s crawlers are given to understand your images and content, the better your chances of ranking higher.
You can include your keywords in Alt and description fields, but again, avoid stuffing. As a general rule, to utilize these fields well for SEO image optimization, you want to describe what the image represents and include your keyword, but only if it makes sense.
Images combined with captions can express ideas in a snapshot. Scanning is favored by many users amidst the overwhelming clutter of digital content and captions are often read more than the actual body copy. A brief caption under the visual can improve engagement and make it more interactive for your site users. But what’s more, captions are also crawled by Google, and it’s, therefore, a handy SEO image optimization tool. If you want to reap more SEO benefits, insert a keyword in the caption, but again – avoid over stuffing and only use keywords if the context makes sense.
Millennium Group SEO Services
With an established and recognized presence in Loveland, Colorado, Millennium Group is here to help. If you need any help using the SEO image optimization tips discussed above, contact us today (970) 663-1200