The title “Image SEO Optimization techniques: An eye-opener” is not clickbait. Image SEO consists of 22% of the total searches on Google and yet it remains the most overlooked part in the SEO process. Like the video, Google has a section for image search on its main search engine. Besides, writing Alt-text and reducing few image sizes, nobody bothers to put much effort into performing the Image SEO optimization on the website.
For the Long term SEO results, one should not ignore the Image SEO optimization of a website. Google wants Images on your website for a better user experience. An image gives a descriptive view of the product to its user. Images draw attention, trigger emotions create an atmosphere, and induces visual representation to the viewer about the quality and type of the product. Google has hinted, in its algorithm updates in past, of having good multimedia and User experience in the content. So, Image Optimization and Ranking for Image search could bring in some additional traffic to our website. Thus, Image optimization is a part nobody should ignore.
There are several techniques of performing Image SEO, we shall discuss all of them in this article.
1. On-page Image SEO attributes
The on-page image attribute refers to the text, description to be added, image’s position relevant to the image, etc, and all the on-page things which can enhance your Image SEO.
1.Use relevant file name, alt-text, page title, and description for Images
As Google itself suggested it always tries to find relevance. And so it applies between the image and the text in the file name, page title, and description.
a) Use of a relevant filename
The file name should be always your targeted keyword and relevant text (not a description) of the file. Example: Image representing Email Marketing course should preferably be named as ‘Email marketing course’ and not the category name or the website name or a random name such as image(2).jpg. Correct filename enables your image file to rank for the Image SEO-related keyword.
b) Adding Alt-text to your image
This is a very obvious step, for many emerging SEOs writing alt-text or alternative text is where their Image SEO starts (and probably stops 😂) Although alt-text is not an SEO element or ranking factor, it is an accessibility function.
Right from the early days, Google use to crawl the images blindly, which meant, it had very less knowledge about the image itself. Thus, it uses to rely on information provided by the alt-text or alternative text to know more about the image and its relevancy to the topic (of the article).
Informing Google about the image is not the only function of alt-attribute. They also have user functionality.
- Alt attribute helps users with disabilities: Disabled users may have in accessing Web information, we should note that online information provides many benefits compared with printed information.
- Alt attribute helps users in the slow network area: It helps users in areas with slow internet connections to identify the image.
While ALT tags need to be descriptive, they also need to be brief. They should not be full sentences or paragraphs. With a limit of about 125 characters,
c) Make use of the Page title and description of your image
Many established SEO’s or bloggers, even with years of experience just don’t bother to fill the page title and description column in the image backend. Google searches relevancy between the page title & Description to the alt text of the image. Thus, it is essential to have the page title and description.
2) Use correct image path
This is quite unconventional, but the image URL is also useful for image ranking. The image url has three parts 1) Domain name 2) Category/folder name 3) File name or Image name
A domain name cannot be changed, and file name has already changed (given a name relevant to the image), so the part left for us to customize is the folder of the URL. Thus, every folder needs to be customized, categorically.
2.Reduce Page Loading time
As per Google, page loading time is a ranking factor. There is a direct relationship between page loading time and images. Image size, type, and image resolution affect the page loading time. Thus, “Compressing image” becomes an important task in Image optimization for on-page SEO.
Following are the ways of reducing Page loading time through images.
1). Use of jpg image file wherever possible.
This practice will save your time and effort, even before image compression. Use jpg or jpeg image (both formats are similar), wherever possible this will bring down the site loading time as the file size of jpg format is much lesser compared to png. The use of png format invites a higher file size. It may be possible that an image in jpeg format may have quality a bit of image quality difference, but it’s worth it.
Besides jpeg and png there are other image formats supported by Google and they are BMP, GIF, WebP & SVG. All have different purposes of use, colors counts, size differences etc.
Bloggers, affiliate marketers, small business owners should limit the use of .png images and use jpg/jpeg actively. PNG should only be used when you require an image with clear background or transparent background.
2). Website Image compression before uploading
This is a very simple technique where you can use third-party software or a third-party website like tinypng.com is used to compress every image before uploading it on the website. It is a time-consuming but free-of-cost activity, as every image has to be uploaded(on the third-party website) > compressed > downloaded > uploaded on your website.
3) Built-in WordPress Image Editor
Go to media > select the image you want to edit > Press Edit. You will see the WordPress built-in image editor, it has editing features such as crop, dimension, aspect ratio, etc.
4). Image compression by Resolution
Image compression is not limited to its size in kb or mb (kilobytes or megabytes). Reducing image resolution also reduces page loading time. To reduce an original image’s high resolution, we have a built-in tool inside WordPress.
Open your file, Select Tools > Adjust Size. Set your width first. For this example, I set the width at 753 x 549 pixels (refer to the picture of WordPress editor),
5). Compress image Automatically at the server level using a plugin
In this technique, you have to use a plugin that will directly compress the image size at the server level. You don’t have to do anything but work on your content the plugin will automatically take the pain of
1) Finding the image
2) Compressing the image size
3)Placing the image back in its place.
4) Backup the images of original quality
The only drawback to this is it is a paid option. The plugins such as ShortPixel is relatively cheaper, pay once and you will have the option of compressing some 30k images plans on any number of websites. You can also use the plugin on any other website. 30k image compression is enough to have 10 websites run for around 5 years.
The other main benefit of using the plugin is that it will also compress the images in your theme. It converts png files to jpeg and is also compatible with WEBP, AVIF files. ShortPixel also comes with the option to optimize 100 images for FREE every month. So you can start for free and upgrade, only if necessary.
So, using the above ways, image size can be reduced to help websites load faster which is a ranking factor for Google search engine.
5. Limit Large Images Above the Fold
Limiting the size of the data needed to render the above-the-fold content of your page, can help your page speed to load faster. This can be done by structuring data to load critical above the fold content first and by limiting the Large images above the fold content this will certainly make page loading time faster.
3. Images creation: Create Unique Images
Nothing sells better on search engines like the unique content. Having unique, helpful, descriptive images are the key to successful Image SEO. To have unique images and to rank your images on the Google search engine, make sure you cover the following points.
Take your own images and try using real images
If you are a blogger, small business owner, affiliate marketer it is the best practice to take the picture yourself.
Take pictures by yourself and use it inside your content. Simple pictures from your smartphone or a professional photographer of the product you are showcasing or reviewing ads genuineness. Google finds relevancy and uniqueness and thereby helping your image to rank higher for the image search considering other parameters as well.
Make your own images
If it is not possible for you to take pictures, in case you can’t afford to purchase the product or if you want to explain a process. Make your own images. There are several SaaS platform or simply websites which can help you create an image. The image below has been created by me using Canva
Canva.com is the best and one of the simplest online platforms to make an image. Making your own images is also a good practice simply because you are not copying or spamming images from outside, so whatever is being created (inside an image) has come from your mind and there could be no copyright infringement issues.
Use Stock Images wisely
Google has already made it clear, that it won’t penalize webmasters for using the stock images. However, the strategic use of stock images can help a page be more relevant for the topic that it’s about. So it gives relevancy to the user when you use the stock images.
Google’s Matt Cutts in one video, was asked 1.) if the stock images affect your site in a negative way? 2) Do original photos help you in this regard? To which he replied, No, stock photos don’t affect negatively. Using Original photos doesn’t positively or negatively affect the site when compared to stock or original photos. But he also said that it could be a great suggestion for future SEO signal we should look out for, in terms of search quality, where the original image site might be given preference over the sites using stock photos. (which is repetitive and used by many).
So from the Long term SEO perspective, the stock photos don’t sound like a good option. So the solution is our next point
Adding your contribution to Stock images
Instead of directly using the stock photos as they are, it’s way better to edit and make changes to the original stock photos and add some value. Google will love, if you edit the stock photos on Canva.com or pixlr.com, add value to it, it will be no more repetitive and thus future proof.
Do not use a copyrighted image
This would be a cardinal sin, probably the worst thing happening to your site. If you use any copyrighted image on your website. It will not just lead to a “copyright infringement” case against you but a lot more.
Google clearly states that you cannot download or use images from Google without seeking permission from the copyright holder unless your use falls within one of the exceptions or the work is distributed under an open license such as Creative Commons.
Besides the legal side, technically copyright also means “duplicate” content. So, besides the possibility of copyright violation and litigation troubles, delisting and/or Nonindexing can also hamper your SEO efforts.
Use Mobile optimized images
Almost, 75% to 80% of the total searches on Google are made from mobile phones. Also, Google has the Mobile Indexing first policy, by which, it takes mobile images and mobile content into consideration over desktop images and content, while crawling. Thus, images should be optimized for mobile users so they don’t miss any part.
Fortunately, these days almost every major CMS, by default has made websites, mobile-friendly websites thus have the functionary of optimizing images for mobile users. For images to be mobile-friendly and desktop-friendly make sure their pixel size is 1920 x 1080 or 1080 x 1080. This is the perfect size as this can fit mobile as well as desktop screens without the image getting truncated.
Add images to your site map
Adding images to your sitemap(separately) helps google plot the image immediately as you publish it on the webpage. This helps to speed up your indexing of images.
Also, images in the sitemap are a ranking factor, qualifying them (images) for the image search, just like a webpage.
Images: Add structured data
Images are web objects and you can add Image structure data or structure data can be added(just like video). Google Images can display images as rich results.
Rich image results are highlighted with a badge that lets users know that your website contains relevant information—and as a result, can help you drive more targeted traffic to your website.
Optimize pages and position
Image ranking heavily depends on the page it(image) has been used. So, if it is on the page Google couldn’t crawl or index then your image won’t be indexed or crawled, no matter what.
The title and description of the page the image is being used would be its ranking factor. Google recommends placing the image near to its related content. This is done so that Google could grasp the reference of the image in the context of the page. That is why it is recommended to give relevant title and description
Other Important Image attributes
- Limit Large Images Above the Fold
- Don’t let images look like banner ads
- Label clickable images
- Use Lazy Loads if the site is too image heavy
Image Licensing Google: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/image-license-metadata
Moz Above the fold data: https://moz.com/community/q/topic/47849/above-the-fold-content-use-of-large-images