Optimized Images: Leveraging Your Website Graphics to Attract More Visitors
You’ve got images on your website. The layout is perfect. There’s just one problem: things are not optimized. Even if you have an IT team, you might be surprised to learn that your images don’t play well with major search engines like Google. How could this be? Well, it’s not enough to just upload images to your server. You need to optimize them for your users. Here’s how.
Decide What You’re Optimizing For
There are two basic things you have rank for when it comes to images. You can either try to optimize things for Google’s organic search (this is the normal search engine you’re probably used to - it lists text-based queries). Alternatively, you can optimize for Google’s image search or universal search.
Ranking For Google Image Search
Let’s suppose you take a photo of your dog - it’s a Mastiff - and you want to be ranked in Google for “Mastiff.” You run a dog website, so this is pretty important. Well, to get ranked in image search, you would want to make sure that you use intelligent text around the image as well as captions.
But, you don’t want the captions to look spammy. So, write something like “my Mastiff, Dora” as the caption.
When you take a photo with just about any camera these days, the default file name is usually something like “IMG0048271.” No good. Search engines won’t recognize this as anything important. You won’t get ranked for anything - even if it’s the best image on the entire Internet.
Name your photo’s file name something descriptive and yet logical. So, for example, if you snap a photo of your Mastiff, a good file name might be “Mastiff.”
If you have more than one word in your file name, use a hyphen instead of a space or underscore. It makes more sense to search engines. So, for example, if your image is of a Corna Corso (a particular kind of large-breed dog), your file name should be “Corna-Corso” as opposed to “Corna Corso” or “Corna_Corso.”
Size Does Matter
Companies like Yodle, Inc. usually advise clients to pay attention to image file sizes. This isn’t something non SEOs typically pay attention to though. Usually what happens is a photo gets taken, then it gets uploaded - as the full-size image.
This slows down loading times and can drive users away. On average, users’ attention starts to drift after about 3 seconds of loading. That’s not long.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should opt for low-resolution images. Most users won’t even click on an image that looks like it might be fuzzy or pixilated. Everyone prefers high-res, fast-loading images. Of course, there’s a trade-off between high resolution and fast load times.
The trick to optimizing file sizes is to compress images. This will allow you to retain the resolution that users want while making those images load very quickly. Everyone wins.