Worth 1000 Words
When you’re blogging, you might not give much thought to images. After all, it’s your words that are most important, right? While a weak post won’t be saved by image use, you can give your posts and search engine visibility a boost. But you can hurt search engine optimization and make your content less visitor-friendly if you don’t follow these image optimization guidelines.
Readers Feast With Eyes First
Make sure you always use at least one image in your post. Humans notice images first. White space and use of headlines make your web page more appealing and scannable. With images, your content also becomes more “pinnable” via Pinterest. Plus, the image will show up when people share it to Google+, Facebook and other social networks that grab thumbnails from the Web. The right (even provocative) image can even help your content go viral.
Image Resolution and Size
When it comes to the Web, your photos have to walk a fine line between high quality and overwhelming, especially for users who have slower connections or smaller screens. No matter what size you go with, image optimization also means compression. Doing so helps take up less space and improve download time. You can do this in a variety of programs from Paint to Photoshop. Pixlr and other free browser-based image editors also offer image optimization functions.
When it comes to image optimization it is possible to go overboard. Google is sensitive to over-optimization practices. Many SEOs put keywords within the file name. This is an old practice, and one that can be a negative SEO flag. We recommend having a descriptive name in the file.
If you use creative commons photos (e.g., from Flickr), use the artist’s original name. If it’s an original photo, focus on being descriptive rather than using it as another opportunity to add your keyword. The point here is to be natural. Synonyms are fine. We recommend staying away from defaults like “IMG0001.jpg.” For example, if you’re a realtor and it’s your headshot, you might name the file “John_Smith_headshot_realtor.”
Optimal Image Types
File types are important. JPEGs offer more compression, but they lack transparency and sometimes quality that you’ll get with PNGs. Don’t be afraid to change the file type as long as you’re doing it correctly.
Alt Text, Captions and Descriptions
If you’re using WordPress to power your site, it’s easy to add information such as alternative text. This text appears whenever a visitor has images turned off and to search engine spiders, captions and descriptions, which appear with the photo on your site and in slideshows. Alt text should be the shortest of this text, and don’t stuff it with keywords. The width of your photo will determine whether your caption spans multiple lines. While captions don’t directly help image optimization and your website’s SEO, they are helpful element for your human visitor. An informative caption may mean the difference between someone who clicks your image in the search results and stays to read versus someone who immediately exits (thus hurting your bounce rate).
What other image optimization techniques do you use?
How can we help?
Launching a website and need help with design? Or, are you tweaking your landing pages to include optimized images to improve conversion?
We are the spectrum group online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.