Images vs. SEO. How to Get Down to It?

Images vs. SEO. How to Get Down to It?

Photographies are an indispensable part of every website. They attract users’ attention and help to mark or enrich long content. In our today’s article you’re going to find out why SEO is beneficial for graphics and how to run it properly. Let’s get it started!

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Did you know that graphics constitute 63.4% of the whole content on the Internet? It’s probably due to the fact that photographs of people, food as well as abstract graphics affect users much more greatly than the text itself. Thanks to photos you’re able to quickly see what a given website is about. Moreover, it’s also been proven that it’s easier to make a decision about the purchase of a given product when its pictures are provided.

For most of us it’s not a surprise that the Internet has been “possessed” by images. But it can be surprising that 78% of all SEO problems are associated with improper image optimization. What does it mean in real life? Well, it proves that photos significantly affect the position on which your website is displayed in the search results. Remember that when users search for particular graphics they very often visit the website where it can be found. Consequently, they increase traffic to this site.

So how important is SEO when it comes to photos and how to optimize your graphics correctly? If you want to find out more, keep reading our today’s entry!

SEO for images – how important is it?

Well optimized, beautiful and eye-catching graphics can not only make the users more interested and affect their overall impression on a site or an article but they can also contribute to better website performance. Now we’re going to discuss the most important reasons why SEO for images is a must:

1. Reduced page loading time

Properly optimized photos can significantly improve the page loading speed. Website loading time is found among the Google’s ranking factors, therefore you need to make sure that your site loads quickly both on computers and mobile devices.

2. Increase in user involvement

Running SEO for images will result in the visual improvement of the content which in turn attracts customers and increase their involvement. According to research, Facebook posts with graphics increase user involvement by times and tweets with photos are shared even up to 150% times more than posts without them. Optimizing images on your website will surely help you attract more users and increase their involvement which translates into a greater number of potential customers.

Posts with and without images
Source: https://buzzsumo.com/blog/how-to-massively-boost-your-blog-traffic-with-these-5-awesome-image-stats/

3. The possibility of being displayed in Google Images

Properly optimized photos are more likely to be displayed in the Google Images search engine. This makes them reach a wider audience and at the same time increase the recognition and traffic to your website.

A right photo – but what does it mean?

You already know that right pictures can improve the quality of your website and appropriate SEO activities can positively affect the traffic. So what to pay attention to while publishing photos in order to achieve satisfying results?

The first step needed to succeed is the choice of suitable photographies. It’s highly advisable to use photos that are related to the subject and content of the website. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Well, not really. It’s enough to visit some random websites to see how many of them publish photos without any value. Moreover, thanks to the eye-tracker research we know that users tend to ignore such images and focus primarily on the headings. In this case photos mean nothing but unnecessary chaos.

It’s also worth paying attention to copyright while selecting photos matching your website. Of course, it’d be ideal to use your own photographs as you’ve the full right to edit and distribute them. However, if you’re not a passionate photographer you don’t have to worry. You can freely use stock image websites offering a wide range of photographs. Below you can see some of the exemplary photo banks:

SEO for images – where and how to start?

When it comes to SEO and images, there are a few steps to be made before publishing your photos. Below we’ll discuss the most crucial ones:

1. High quality pictures

We believe it doesn’t need to be explained that photos published on your website should be characterized by the highest possible quality. It’d be great if they were unique as well. If you’ve the possibility to take your own pictures, they’ll definitely attract more attention than the ones found on the stock image websites.

2. Appropriate image file name

This simple activity that takes less than 10 seconds is a must which enables Google robots to find your picture and display it in the search results. What to focus on when naming your file? Try to keep the description as concise as possible – you can use keywords for this purpose. Start from the most important word and use the “-” (hyphen) character to separate individual words. Thanks to that, image file names and links to them are understandable for the bots and users.

Avoid using “_” (underscore) because then Google robots won’t be able to distinguish the words and instead they’ll read the name as a whole. Remember not to use space to separate keywords, avoid special characters or ASCII coding system. So instead of a file named hjdsiufds23n.jpg go for something like hairdresser-newyork-ombre.jpg.

3. JPG or PNG?

Have you ever thought about the file format in which you save your images? Most of the pictures available on the Internet are the .jpg ones. However, there is an increasing trend towards the .png format. Why? Because when you zip a file in that format, its quality doesn’t deteriorate as in the case of the .jpg. Bear in mind that the .jpg file format is better for saving photos and the .png one will work well with charts, diagrams, illustrations and logos.

4. Best image size

Is there anyone who doesn’t mind slowly loading websites? The answer is obvious. You already know that Google pays attention to the loading time of the site and this, in turn, affects the position in the search results. Image scaling, meaning resizing photos, will significantly improve the loading time of the website. However, remember that the quality shouldn’t be affected. Scale your photo to the size you want to publish on your site. There are various tools like Photoshop or lunapic that can help you to do it.

5. Image size

The rule is simple – the smaller the image size, the better (of course keeping in mind the best possible quality). The size of your graphics also affects the loading time of the website, therefore it’s suggested that the photos to be published shouldn’t weigh more than 150-200 KB. jpegmini.com and imageoptim.com are exemplary tools that can be used to change the size of your images.

image size rules

6. Image sitemap

It’s been suggested that websites with a great number of photos should have separate sitemaps with URLs of all graphic files. This makes it easier for Google robots to recognize the images and facilitates the process of indexing.

Sites which don’t have so many images can add the photo files to the existing sitemap. Moreover, people with a WordPress website can use a special plugin that helps to implement the image sitemap. This option is albo available via Yoast SEO, a very popular plugin.

7. Structured data for images

If you want to enhance your SEO campaign for images, you can use structured data, also called microdata. When you add the data to a specific image, it’ll be displayed as rich snippet (extended description). So let’s have an example concerning products – apart from the standard descriptions users will be provided with information about the price and reviews of the product. Use the Google’s guideline on structured data to implement the microdata properly.

Time to publish!

If you’ve prepared your images in accordance with the abovementioned tips, it’s time to publish. We’ll also support you through this stage and provide you with useful pieces of advice that’ll improve your position in the search results.

1. Alternative descriptions

How do Google robots know what is shown on the picture? They simply use alternative descriptions. These elements are also essential in the case of people with visual impairments or in situations when images don’t load properly and alternative descriptions are displayed to the users instead. Therefore, the text should describe the photo as closely as possible.

The ALT attribute takes from 5 to 15 words. In the case of a blog post, ALT of the first picture can be the same as the title of the entry. Include keywords in the alternative descriptions of your images because it increases the chances that the graphics will appear in Google Images.

An example of adding alternative text in WordPress.
An example of adding alternative text in WordPress.

However, don’t overuse keywords – the description should be comprehensible and it should clearly state what is shown on the graphics. You can use special characters in the ALT attribute. If you want to check your alternative description, just go to the website source code and select the option to examine it.

2. Title tag

The image title can function as a supplementary text. For some people this stage of image optimization is rather unnecessary as it doesn’t have any value in terms of SEO. Nevertheless, it helps to describe the photo better therefore it’s worth using it. If you decide to use the title tag, remember not to duplicate alternative descriptions to your graphics.

3. Image captions

Add image captions wherever possible – it often happens that users read only descriptions of photos and ignore the main body of the entry. If you want to keep people on your website longer and at the same time improve its position in the Google ranking, then it’s worth using image captions.

4. Layout of the images

You already know how important it is to name your image file properly and to include relevant keywords there. You’re also fully aware that your pictures should match the content thematically. It’s very important to make sure that the keyword used in the file name appears also in the text (preferably in the heading). Moreover, it’d be ideal if the image itself was located near the keyword phrase.

Don’t be afraid to use graphics!

We hope that nobody needs to be convinced that valuable and high quality photos are beneficial for the website. Moreover, captivating graphics will not only enrich your blog posts or online store but they’ll also improve the position of your site in the search results. Take advantage of the above discussed tips, increase the traffic to your website and make it more recognizable.

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Author
Junior SEO Specialist - Mariola

Junior SEO Specialist

In Delante from December 2018. Student of Computer Science, and soon a graduate. She spreads the surrounding reality into words, images, sounds - in short SEO, photography and music. In her free time she likes to travel and plays in a brass band.

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