Image optimisation for search can be seen as a complex and daunting topic, one that can fail to bring the benefits that it should if you don't remember to utilise all the different aspects of it to maximum effect. The benefit to you taking the time to optimise your images is that you will potentially bring yourself more organic traffic, which will help you to spend less time on marketing and paid advertising.
So to make things easy for you, right here I have boiled the whole topic down for you, pouring it all into an essential 1000 word guide to getting image optimisation for SEO right first time.
The Two Ways Optimising Images for SEO Can Bring Traffic
If you optimise your images for search there are two ways it can drive traffic:
- The optimised images will strengthen the context of your whole page. So if they are built into a well written content page, they will strengthen it and potentially help you to rank higher.
- Well optimised images within strongly contextual content will potentially rank in Google image search, bringing traffic on their own.
Have a Relevant Image Filename
This is the first and most basic step of optimising your images for search that many people just never do.
The name of your image gives it context. Consider these two filenames:
Which of those two filenames would you be more interested in if you were Google?
To step one is always to rename your images so that they are relevant. Don't make them spammy by stuffing them with keywords, just give a relevant description of what they depict within the topic.
Always Take the Time to Add Alt and Title Attributes
Your title attribute should be a short and punchy description of what the image is about. If it's the main image for a blog post, then perhaps you could use the title of the blog post as the title attribute for the image.
Your alt attribute should be as descriptive as possible, and that's what Google suggests. It is your chance to describe what is happening in the image, but in slightly more detail than in the way you did when you named the image file. This is because the alt attribute was designed to be used to describe the image should it not load, so make it descriptive.
So dog-training-in-park.jpg could have an alt attribute of “picture of a dog being trained in a park”.
Changing and image title and alt attributes is really easy, especially if you use WordPress. When you upload media in WordPress you can change both of these really quickly before you insert them into a post or page. In WordPress, the alt attribute is called ‘Alternate text’.
Images Can Affect the Load Time of Your Site
Google has made it clear that it now takes into account the load time of your site, especially for mobile search.
This makes it vital your images do not drag the load time of your site down. This is also vital for user experience. If somebody visits your site, especially on a phone when on the move, they do not want to wait for more than a few seconds for a webpage to load. If they do, they may well click back and find another site.
There are three main file types, .jpg, .gif and .png that are mainly used on webpages.
Each has its uses, but for general images and photographs within your content, .jpg is the best overall file type. You will want to find a tool that can compress these is much as possible without then completely losing their quality.
You could use something on your computer, such as Photoshop, or an online image compression tool, or if you use WordPress, you could use Jetpack, from the people who own WordPress.
Jetpack not only has an image compression tool built-in, so that whenever you upload one it compresses it, but it also gives you an option to store and deliver those images from the WordPress Content Delivery Network (CDN), which means your site could be faster loading.
Site maps, Schema Markup and Open Graph Tags
These are individual topics in their own rights. Within the context of giving you a quick guide to the essentials, we will talk about them as a group.
You can add additional information about an image within your site map. There are third-party tools you can use, and WordPress plugins which allow you to easily add in additional data about images that will show up in your site map. Doing so will more easily allow Google to understand the context of an image.
Schema markup is not widely used, but it is a great way of telling a search engine more details about what is on a page and the context. There are various tools and ways you can implement this on your website. Probably the best place to start is to use Google's own Structured Data Markup helper to create Schema data for your site.
Finally, Open Graph Tags are something created by Facebook back in 2010. They offer an easier and more consistent way for social media sites to read and display websites and images that are shared on social media sites.
If you use WordPress then it is easy. The Yoast SEO plugin for example allows you to add Open Graph tags into your pages and posts, just navigate to the social tab in Yoast and configure it.
Don't Underestimate the Potential Return from Optimising Your Images
Once you get into the habit of religiously optimising your images for search you could be giving yourself an easy boost in terms of organic and social traffic.
And once you do it, those optimised images are going to be within your content for potentially years to come. This could deliver you thousands of additional visitors, visitors that you would otherwise not get if you don't bother to optimise.
Look around your competitors websites, and see how optimised their images are, I bet that you can steal a march on them by getting started right now.