After text, images are one of the building blocks of content that is found on the web. An image adds more life to a webpage as it is commonly observed that a webpage with an image has better user interaction and engagement compared to a webpage which has only text.
The order of preference is – Text, Image, Video, User comments.
Search engines would always prefer textual content over other visual content but that said, visual content also plays an important role in the Search engine optimization of your website and influencing the ranking of the page for relevant keywords on search results.
Just like we have previously discussed how to optimize your content for search engines, in this article we will discuss how to optimize images for search engines. “Image SEO” as sometimes people name it, is the process of optimizing images for search engines so that you rank higher in both image search results and web search results.
Contrary to text, images are really easy to optimize and they don’t take much time and effort to be optimized. However, you also have to note the fact that search engines will never understand what an image is all about because Search engines can only process “textual content” and they are “literally blind” towards “visual content”, so you have to explicitly tell them what the visual content is all about. If you do not tell them what it is, they will simply ignore it and move on, paying no extra value to the visual content.
Best Practices for Optimizing Images For Search Engines
Here are some of the best practices for optimizing images for Search Engines and for increasing engagement using images in your articles, web pages, or blog posts.
Use at least one image or “Visual element” on your webpage.
Images add more life to a page. It makes it look good and visually appealing. Readers have the tendency to ignore the content of a page which lacks visual elements, so it is a good practice to use images in your webpage. If you are unable to find a good image or relevant image, it helps to add at least one high quality image in your web page so that the “First impression” of a reader is not damaged and there is some visual clue in the page which hooks the readers and entices them to read what the content is all about.
Use at least one image in your webpage, although the number of images can be as many as possible. However, don’t go overboard and add only images in a webpage with no text in it. That is a bad practice and should be avoided.
Avoid Stock Photos or “Generic images”.
Stock photos or generic images should be avoided because they look spammy and they look “irrelevant” most of the times. It also gives the impression that this blog post or article or webpage is low quality in nature, that the author did not have time to research the right image to convey the right thought to his readers.Take some time out to find the right image for your blog posts or articles or landing pages and absolutely avoid generic images such as Stock photos, Clipart, icons and run of the mill agency photos which are generally the attributes of a spammy website.
Use Relevant Images
The image you use in your blog post should be relevant to the theme of the content that you are projecting. Don’t just add an image because you have to add an image to the article. Instead, use the image to convey a meaning, a theme or a thought.
A common practice among newbie bloggers is to find a seductive or attractive image of a girl and add it to the top of the article. Don’t do those things, it looks bad, cheap, spammy and people won’t take you seriously if you repeat the same thing across most of the blog posts of pages of your website. Instead, use an image which is relevant to the content of the page. Use an image which conveys the idea of the page in one instant and furthermore, which encourages the reader to go through the content of the page because they were able to relate to the graphics associated in the post.
For example, in this article, I have used a featured image which highly advocates the idea of visual elements placed before the copy of the page. I could have used an irrelevant image like below but take note of the image I used in the article and the image below. Which one do you think fits the article more and amplifies the effect and the theme of this post?
Use the Right File Name For Your Images, ( Use Keywords but Keep them Short and Meaningful)
It is important to use the right file name for your images. Don’t use names such as “image001.jpg” or “Screenshot_13_07_2015.jpg”. Instead, take the time out to rename the image to something which describes the content of an image (and not necessarily the content of the page where the image is used). You can use the image to describe the content of the post, article or page where it is being used but a much better practice is to actually describe what the image is all about.
So in this article, I have used an image with the file name – “Alert-einstein-picture-blog-post”
The reason being – I have first described the content of the image and not the content of the page where it is used. Since I am using a generic example image to illustrate the idea of using images in blog posts, it is not possible to describe the image content and the theme of the page where it is used in the same file name and keep it relevant at the same time.
Hence, I have chosen to describe the content of the image first, so Google and other search engines have some clue on what this image is all about. This image has not related the discussion of this webpage but acts as a generic example.
It is also a good idea to separate multiple keywords with Hyphens or Underscores and avoid “Spaces” to separate words used in the file name.
Use the “Alt Attribute”
The “Alt Text” or “Alt attribute” or “Alternate text” of an image tells search engines what the content of the image is all about. In case the browser fails to load the image for some reason (file missing, site too slow or other server-side issues), the ALT text is displayed to the user.
Also, in some cases, some browsers and networks may choose not to show images from specific domains. In that case, the Alt text can act as a good reference to the content of the image being used in the article or the webpage.
Whenever, you are embedding an image in your webpage, article or blog post, always enter the Alt attribute for the image and carefully describe the content of the image under 10 words. Using the same file name as the ALT attribute is a bad idea and should be avoided. Automatically generating ALT attributes for all the embedded images on your website is again another bad idea and should be avoided.
It is sometimes better not to use any ALT attribute at all than to auto-generate ALT attributes for all images on your website, which would hurt more than doing good.
Make Images Load Responsively according to Screen where it is being viewed
We all know loading times plays a crucial factor in determining the SEO success of a website. Also, user experience and engagement plays a decisive role in determining whether the content on the website is really loved by it’s audience or not.It is indeed a good idea to load images in a responsive way so that the image which is being loaded fits the screen where it is being viewed. Sometimes, you may embed an image with really large dimensions and it may look good on the computer screen but if you view the same page in a mobile, the image may break the design of the page or not load at all.
You need to use a responsive technology on your website’s theme so as to ensure the image will scale itself to the screen size and re-size itself before presenting itself to the reader. That way, the user experience will not be hampered.
Compress File Size of Images For Faster Loading
Images with high file sizes should be avoided at all costs. You should compress the image and reduce its file size using a tool or a plugin before uploading it into your web server, to ensure that the image loads fast even in slow internet connections. Don’t go by the speed of your internet service provider, since a lot of the users in the world still do not have access to fast internet connections and it is possible that they are browsing your website from a mobile device with a really slow connection.
In those cases, the image with heavy file size can reduce the loading time of your webpage considerably and cause a bad user experience. To avoid this issue, you must reduce the file size of all your images and ensure that they load quickly, even in slow internet connections.
Align the Images properly ( Images should not cover the text of an article)
Images are visual elements which amplify the content and theme of a webpage. The image should be aligned in a proper way and under no conditions, the image should block the textual content on the page from being read. The best way to align the image is to align it with the center of the page and keep text either above or below it.
Often times, left and right alignment of images can cause problems when you update or change the theme of your website so to be on the safer side, it is a good practice to centre align the images and maintain proper top and bottom margins for embedded images in your blog post, articles, web pages or landing pages.
Use an XML Sitemap for Images
If your website is fairly big and has hundreds of thousands of images spread across several pages of your website, it is a good idea to create an XML Image Sitemap for your website or blog and add the XML Image sitemap in your Google Search Console account.Here is Google’s directive on using XML Sitemaps for Images– ” You can use a separate Sitemap to list images, or you can add image information to an existing sitemap”
Personally, I would prefer to use a totally different sitemap for content, a separate sitemap for Images and a separate sitemap for Videos on any given website, if the number of pages, images and videos are quite large (more than a hundred).
Using an XML sitemap helps Google and other search engines discover more files in the content of your website and it generally helps them to index these content faster.
So these are some of the basic things you should take care of to properly optimize images for SEO. Remember that Google and search engines not only care about the usefulness of the content on your website or blog, they also care about how engaged your readers are.
While you can certainly raise the bar of content through the quality aspect of it, the role of engagement and interaction can be achieved with high-quality visual content used appropriately in various themes across your website, blog, portal, or any other online property. Don’t neglect images from now and pay extra attention to the visual elements on your website because they indirectly influence the engagement of your readers and hence send a strong signal to search engines whether your website is really useful or not.
To wrap the article here are a few key points you should remember.
- This is the first point. It can be pretty long if you want to add a lot of text or it can be short as well depending upon your need.
- Next point
- Next Point
- You can also include a hyperlink into the list element
lastly, end the summary with an ending statement. You can even use bold text like this.
Be Sure to read our SEO Guide which contains useful information about SEO and we have discussed in detail key SEO Concepts with examples.