Beat Your Competition with Image Optimization
Search engine optimization can be tough – especially if you want solid, long-term results. This is why companies like seoexplode continue to provide much-needed help to businesses who want to maximize their profit potential and blast the competition out of the water.
One area of optimization that bears focus and more attention nowadays is image optimization, as Google has rolled out the feature that allows people to “Visit Page” or simply, jump to the website that is hosting the image in question. Some years ago, image searches were simple – people just wanted to see images.
Now the Google Image Search sub-function of Google is being used directly by people who are looking for products and services. What this means is that when someone types “bicycle pedals” and hits the Images tab on Google, he’s not just looking pictures of pedals – he might be looking to buy.
If you have a bicycle parts store, this is a pristine and awesome opportunity to bring part of your inventory directly in front of someone who hasn’t even left the search engine yet.
If this has gotten you excited (and it should) and you’re curious as to how you can beef up your image optimization efforts, here are some guidelines:
- Do not overlook the naming of your image files. The actual image files should contain carefully selected keywords that revolve not just around your target market (i.e. making it easier for them to find you) but also around user intent, or what people might be thinking of doing when they visit your website. Remember: user intent plus content equals success. Content that doesn’t have any particular purpose is problematic, period.
- Image names should omit articles and should be highly specific and descriptive. Hyphenation to separate each term in the phrase or title is imperative. This helps Google index the images and consequently, this will help in the surfacing of the images, too.
- Make sure you fill up at the alt and title properties of your images. What we’re trying to do here is to increase the overall coherence of your website by taking into account all of the important elements in it – text, video, and images included. If you can boost the SEO of your website by tweaking the image attributes a little, that would be a great boost to your efforts, right?
- The alt attributes of image files are voiced out or played by voice-assisted technologies. Think Siri, Alexa, and all of the other voice-assisted technologies that people are now using. Now with this in mind, you would want to still be specific and descriptive, and there also has to be good grammar and coherence when you write these attributes.
Obviously, keyword stuffing will be a big disservice to people who might be interested in buying, because they want specific information, and you just can’t get that when phrases and descriptions are over-stuffed with keywords. Such descriptions also tend to become repetitive and boring – and these are things that you do not want when surfing the Web.
- What about product images, say like physical products? Think SKUs, ISBNs, model names, model number, series numbers, manufacturer information, etc. Adding the year of manufacture (if that is relevant) is also highly recommended for stuff like toys, collectibles, etc.
The type of information that you should add in a series on the file name of the image depends on the market you are serving and what type of product you are selling. For example, if you are selling food, pertinent information should be added on the image file name so people would be able to spot and click what they need ASAP.
For example: “500 grams Kraft cheese spread buy 2 take 1.” Don’t worry about the description of the images being extra long if the extra words help make the names more descriptive and useful for the customers.
- When you are done with the image file name and file attributes, it is time to move on to the surrounding information of your images.
Normally what Google does is it first takes a look at the attributes and properties of the image file itself, and then looks at the surrounding information to build the context of what the image is about. While image recognition technology is still in its infancy, Google will have to rely heavily on this type of machine learning to unlock proper identification and contexts of the images.
Two types of information are really important at this point in time: the caption of the image, and any other text that follows the caption. Basically, anything and everything on the page helps Google rank websites based on what types of images they have in the first place.
- Let’s talk about file types. We know that there’s a lot of talk about using the PNG format for the Web because these often offer clearer images and better resolution.
However, when you look at the picture from the viewpoint of someone who is trying to improve image SEO, you have to take into account page loading time, which can be drastically affected by image bloat.
While there is plenty of debate over this, especially if the website is all about aesthetics and nice images, the general rule of thumb for websites that don’t specifically need to feature high resolution images is to stick to JPEG format instead of PNG.
Use PNG if you need transparent backgrounds, or if you need the image to retain its gloss and shine even when stretched (like your website’s logo). You can also use the SVG format if you are uploading vector images (just make sure that your server is able to cache and compress SVG files), and finally, if you really need to use GIF files, do so only when you need a bit of insightful animation on the page. GIF isn’t so bad – it’s used in social media platforms and popular meme pages like 9GAG almost obsessively. But do be moderate when using it for more professional websites.
- About the file size: the ideal file size for images is 100 kb or less. It may sound a bit restricting, but keep in mind that your page is composed of other elements that require downloading.
Every element needs to be downloaded on the page before the page would even work. So in the end, by keeping the web page images lightweight, the entire page could load in less time and require less data, too. A web page that’s only 250-300 kb big is a dream when it comes to loading time – so strive for it.
- Experimental file formats like JPEG 2000 and JPEG XR may not be rendered properly by some desktop browsers, so you can expect a bit of struggle with mobile browsers as these are not developed as stringently as their desktop counterparts.
But who knows? In time, these so-called experimental formats just may be the future of images for websites. But for now, be moderate (again) with using them and make sure that you test, test, and test before deciding to make any new image format a final pick for your web pages.
- Image sizing is also an issue with mobile browsers, so make sure that your CSS is responsive and will automatically resize photos to fit the screen size of the mobile device accessing the website.
An image width of 2560 pixels is normal however, for images that are to be loaded on a desktop PC. Images are less iffy to load on desktop PCs because of the screen size available. Remember: dynamic serving of images is cool for mobile devices.
You can use GIMP (this one’s for desktop) to compress any images. TinyPNG on the other hand can be used to compress both PNG and JPEG files before they are uploaded to your server.