In this article, you will learn EVERYTHING you need to know about Image Optimization for SEO.
In fact, I use this exact same guide to optimize my blog post images…
…to do a perfect on-page-SEO for my blog posts.
…to rank my images in Google image search.
…and to drive traffic using my images.
So, if you are also willing to do it for your blog as well, you are in the right place.
Let’s dive right in.
The Ultimate Guide To Image Optimization For SEO:
Why Do You Need to Optimize Images?
There are many reasons for optimizing the images. The images that you use in your article improve the SEO score, make your article more search engine friendly and it also plays a huge role in the page loading speed of your blog.
Benefits of Image Optimization:
- Photo-sharing sites like Pinterest can drive huge amounts of traffic.
- Photos show up in search engines and since the competition is much less in the images section, you can easily get your image ranked higher with proper optimization.
- Improves your blog’s bounce rate and increases the SEO score of your article.
- If you create custom images, then you can also get backlinks when some other blogs use your image in their articles and give you a source/credit link.
Finding the Right Images for Your Blog
We all use images in our article and before we see the best practices to optimize the images, I wanted to share with you some resources from where you can get stock images for free.
When dealing with images, you need to be very careful while searching for them. You can’t use Google Images to pick any image and add it in your article because those images might be protected by copyright and you might run into some big trouble for using such images.
Instead, you can use the various websites that provides stock images for free. You can use such websites to find an image that suits perfectly with the content of your article.
There are websites like FreeDigitalPhotos, MorgueFile, Pixabay, etc. that provides stock photos for free and sites like ShutterStock where you can get high-quality and professional images by paying a few bucks.
You can use the free sites or the paid sites to find the right image for your article, but never use Google Images to get them.
It would be even better if you could produce custom images for your blog.
That way, no one will ever bother you and you will have all the rights to the images because you created them on your own and you retain all the rights.
Creating Your Own Images:
Most of the time, you will find a great image from the stock photo sites, but when you are unable to find the perfect image and instead, you want to create custom images, then you can use online sites like Canva.
Canva is the best platform, especially for non-designers, to create custom images. You can find a lot of pre-made templates and cool fonts and with the simple drag and drop feature, it’s extremely easy to create images of any size and dimension.
Another great tool to design custom images is PicMonkey. It also offers you custom designs that you can use in your image.
How to Optimize Images for Search Engines?
1. Choose the Right File Name
Before uploading a new image to your article, you will have to check the name of the image before uploading it. I have seen many bloggers selecting file names that have nothing to do with the content of the article or names that don’t make any sense.
You have to rename the image with a name that you want the image to rank for. Because by choosing a keyword-rich name for the image, you will make it easy for search engines to rank that image higher in the SERPs.
For example, if you are writing an article on how to find long tail keywords, name your image as “find-long-tail-keywords.jpg” or something like that.
It should make sense to both your readers as well as to the search engines.
However, make sure that you add dashes between two words and don’t write everything without spaces. It shouldn’t be like this – “findlongtailkeywords.jpg”. There is nothing wrong with this format but it’s better to stay safe and choose a format that is legible.
- Wrong format – “ABC123.jpg”
- Okay Format – “findlongtailkeywords.jpg”
- Perfect Format – “how-to-find-long-tail-keywords.jpg”
2. Image Size and Compression
The next thing you need to take care of before uploading the image is the size of the image and the dimensions. You don’t need to upload big images to your article because it will put a huge load on your server and as a result increase the loading speed.
Page load time of your website is an extremely important factor from SEO point of view and you don’t want to increase the time by adding huge images.
According to me, the size of the image you upload should be minimum 200 x 200px so that it gets picked up by the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
However, you can insert a much smaller image or a large image as well in your article depending on your requirements. The above dimensions are only mentioned because those are the minimum requirements for an image to be picked by social networks.
When dealing with large images, make sure you take the content area width of your blog into consideration.
Most of the blog themes come with content area width of 600-700px or maybe less or more depending on the theme, so make sure you know the content area width to create a perfect image.
The above section tells you the proper image dimensions but what would you do when you download a stock image that is too large in dimensions?
If you have downloaded a stock image and it’s too large in dimensions, then it is better to resize it and then upload it. Don’t upload the image in its original size and resize it using the height and width parameter in your post editor.
If you upload the original image and then resizing it from the post, then you are doing no good. When the page is loaded in the browser, the images will load to its original dimensions and size and then it will be resized. This will only increase the loading time of your page.
When you use stock images of high quality, you will be adding a lot of pressure on your server to simply load the images. The higher the quality of the image, the more will be its size.
If the image you want to upload is in triple digits in KB or it is in MB, then that’s because the quality of the image is too high.
It is possible for the dimensions of the image to be around 500 x 500px and still be large in size. At such moments, you can’t simply resize the picture; you need to compress them for lighter weight.
There are tools like TinyPNG that helps you in compressing the images to reduce the size. Even after compressing the images, it won’t affect the image quality much. The image will still look good and it won’t be distorted or pixelated.
3. ALT Text
The main purpose of the ALT text is to provide a description to the image file. If the images are not appearing for whatever reason, the ALT text will appear in its place describing the content of the image.
The other use of the ALT text is to tell the search engines that an image is present at its place. Search engines are unable to read the image and if you don’t use the ALT text on the images on your blog, you are missing out on a lot of traffic.
Search engines use ALT text to determine the best images to return for a particular search query. Most of the people try to get to the top position of a search engine but they ignore the image search engines that can bring a lot of traffic as well. So, by adding an ALT text in the images, you make sure your article is perfectly optimized which helps you in getting an SEO edge over your competitors.
How to Choose ALT texts?
You now know the benefits and the importance of the ALT texts, but what should you enter as the ALT text in the images?
ALT texts are the best place to enter your keywords and increase your chances of showing up higher in image searches.
However, you need to make sure that your image is suitable for your ALT text. You should never add an image of a cat in your article and label it as “best SEO tools for free”. This just doesn’t make any sense.
So, use a proper image that shows the topic of your article and add keywords in the ALT texts to make it visible to search engines and increase the chances to get ranked.
How to Add ALT texts in the Images?
To add the ALT text in your image code, simply add alt=”this is your alt text”. Here’s an example on how to do that.
<img src=”find-long-tail-keywords.jpg” alt=”how to find long tail keywords”/>
A simple method to add ALT text would be to use the Media Uploader in your WordPress post editor. When you upload the image in your article, you will be able to add ALT text directly to your image. Check the image below to know how to do that.
So make sure to add an ALT text that describes the image as well as the content of the article. That way the readers can also make out the contents of the image and the search engines will be able to rank it for the related queries.
Some Points to Remember:
1. Height & Width of Images:
The height and width parameters are one of the most overlooked factors in image Optimization. Whenever you insert an image in your article, make sure that its HTML code contains the height and width parameters as well.
The reason they should be present in the code is that it plays a huge role in page loading speed. When the browsers detect the height and width tags, they will continue loading the text on the page while keeping the space defined by the height and width parameters and filling it with the image.
The text and the image will be loaded simultaneously, thus maintaining a good page loading speed. If you don’t mention the tags, then the browsers will load the text till the image, then the image will be loaded completely and then the remaining text will be loaded. This will put a lot of strain on the servers and increase the loading speed of the page.
In WordPress, these parameters are automatically added when you insert the image but if you manually add the HTML tags or if you just want to make sure that the tags are present, then you can go to the Text editor section, find the image code, which will look something like in the image below, and specify the height and width parameters as shown.
2. Remove Hyperlink from the Image
When you upload the images in your article, WordPress will automatically add a link in the source code to the image location (i.e. /wp-content/uploads folder).
Unless you want to share the link to the full-size image, I can’t think of any reason why you should keep the hyperlinks on the image.
Not only does the hyperlink passes link juice to non-important image page, but it also distracts users. When the visitors are reading the article and they accidentally click on the image, they will be redirected to the image location and hence, they might lose the interest in the article.
So, it’s better to just remove the links from the image’s source code. Here’s how you can remove the hyperlink from the image.
When you upload the image, on the right side, under the “Attachment Display Settings”, you will see an option that says Link To. Click on the drop-down menu and select None to remove the hyperlink.
Best Practices for an Optimized Image
1. Image Format – JPEG, PNG or GIF?
There are different types of image formats available like JPEG (JPG), PNG and GIF. Mostly, we all use JPEG file format but sometimes we tend to use PNG and GIF as well.
- JPEG format – JPEG format is best used for digital photography and is the most widely used format.
- PNG format – PNG is a lossless format and offers amazing compression. Even if you edit the image multiple times or resize it and compress it, it won’t lose any data or degrade in quality.
- GIF format – GIF format is popular mostly because it supports small size images.
Of all the image formats, the best image format that you can use is JPEG. The reason behind this is very simple. JPEG formats are comparatively smaller in size which means the images will load faster and since you don’t need to edit the images a lot, JPEG format is the best to use in your posts.
2. Use Captions in the Image
Captions are the text description that appears right below the images in your article. You can use the caption area to describe the image or give credit links.
There is no direct relation between image captions and the search engine rankings. But there are reasons why adding image caption is a really important factor.
The captions are available to you so that you can tell your readers what you are trying to imply by using the image. Sometimes, the readers might get the wrong idea and jump to the wrong conclusions and it’s up to you to provide them with all the information and details before they jump to any conclusions.
By using intelligent and creative captions with creative images, you will spark the readers’ interest, and they might end up spending more time on your site reading the complete article. This will reduce the bounce rate, which in turn will improve your SEO score and increase the chances of the image getting a higher position in the search engine results.
3. Use Image Sitemaps
We all know the importance of sitemaps and the first thing we do when we create a new blog is to build a sitemap and add it to webmasters tools account of various search engines.
When you add a sitemap, you tell the search engines that there are some new pages that need to be crawled and indexed and in this way, you make sure that the search engine spiders are able to crawl each and every page of your site and index it in the search engines.
You create sitemaps for your articles, then why can’t you create image sitemaps as well and increase the chances of the images getting indexed?
Creating image sitemaps is extremely easy as you can use Udinra All Image Sitemap plugin to create one for the images on your blog and submit it in your Webmasters Tools account. Once you have submitted the sitemap, all the images will be crawled and indexed in the search engines.
When are Image Sitemaps Important?
If you run a blog on topics that have nothing to do with images, then you can avoid the image sitemaps. But if you run a photography blog or a tech blog that requires a lot of images, then it is a nice idea to create an image sitemap to make sure the images are indexed properly in the search engines.
WP Plugins for Better Image Optimization
There are a lot of SEO plugins in the WordPress plugins directory and the collection includes some really amazing plugins to help you better optimize the images on your blog. We are going to see some of the best Image Optimization plugins that you can use to manage the images and optimize them perfectly.
1. SEO Friendly Images
This is by far the best plugin for optimizing your images for search engines. If you have a lot of images on your site and you haven’t added the title tag or the ALT text in the images, then this plugin will automatically add the tags to your image based on the settings that you choose.
You just have to download the SEO Friendly Images Plugin and install it on your site. Then set it up by choosing the options and the plugin will add the title and ALT text wherever they are missing.
So if you have a lot of un-optimized images on your blog, it’s time to use this plugin to optimize it.
Note:: I would suggest you to add ALT texts and Title tags to the images manually right after you upload them. The reason for this is SEO Friendly Images plugin might not add the perfect ALT texts to your images because it works on the options you selected in the settings area.
2. WP Smush.It or EWWW Image Optimizer
No matter how much you try to resize the images and optimize them before uploading, there will still be a chance to optimize them further.
These plugins optimize the images by reducing their size without compromising the quality of the image. There are no complicated settings, just run the optimizer and all the images will be optimized.
Here’s an article published on WPBeginner that shows you how you can use WP Smush plugin to optimize the image and also other alternative plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer in action.
Image SEO and Pinterest:
Pinterest is the most popular social network to share images from around the web. If you use a lot of images, then not sharing them on Pinterest is a really bad idea.
Since Pinterest is an authority website, the images shared on the network are more likely to get indexed and ranked in search engine results.
So, whenever you share an image on Pinterest, make sure to optimize it correctly by adding proper description and links with each image so that you can get all the SEO benefits and the traffic to your site.
When Can You Share Images on Pinterest?
Pinterest is not a network for everyone. If you share a lot of images on your profile, it doesn’t mean you are going to get the same benefits some other user is getting.
Most of the Pinterest users are women and the top performing categories are home, arts/crafts, style/fashion, food, travel etc. So, if your website deals with tutorials or apps-related articles, then you are not going to get any significant benefits from the network.
However, there is nothing wrong in creating a board and sharing whatever you want to share. Maybe, in the future, the taste of Pinterest users will change and some other topics will become popular. So keep sharing the images from your articles on Pinterest and add a link back to your post in the description.
You spend hours in writing the perfect post, so don’t allow all that effort go to waste by not using the optimized images for better search engine rankings. By following the steps and best practices mentioned in this article, I am pretty sure that you will start seeing positive results soon.
If you liked the article on Image Optimization, then share the article with others as well. If you have any queries or suggestions that you would like to share with us, use the comment form below.
Also, I would like to know what plugins do you use to optimize images on your blog? And, what are the strategies that you implement to rank your images higher in search engines?