As important as it is to have strong written content on your website, you should never overlook the power that images can have on your site’s search engine ranking. Any strategy you can implement to boost that ranking can make a huge difference – especially if your competitors are overlooking it. Optimizing your images for SEO purposes is one of those strategies.
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Here’s a quick look at how important image SEO can be to your overall ranking, and how to include images in the most effective, efficient way.
Why You Should Always Include Images
Optimizing your images for SEO is actually pretty simple – it’s also a great way to not only capture a potential client’s attention, but also to make your site more competitive in search engines. A lot of businesses ignore images, and their rankings suffer in the process. Putting an emphasis on images can really help you gain a competitive advantage.
Text, of course, will always play a huge role in how people experience your site. If it’s authoritative and compelling, your company will gain relevance. But if you include an image, users will be much more likely to stick around and actually read that text. In fact, research indicates that people are 80% more likely to read the article, they’re also 64% more likely to remember what they read – and where they read it.
Finding the Best Image
The benefits of using images are great, but using the right images will be critical to you actually seeing those benefits. If your picture is blurred, or if it really doesn’t have anything to do with the article, that could actually be a turn-off. The last thing you want to do is to drive people away because your pictures are lousy.
Using professional, high-quality images will be crucial, ones that are actually relevant to the information you’re trying to convey. If possible, use pictures of you and your staff members. That will help build a sense of trustworthiness and reliability among users, since they’ll be able to associate faces with names. There’s still a lot to be said for providing the personal touch.
Obviously, you don’t want to blow your entire budget on pictures, no matter how much they could help your SEO strategy. The good news is there are a lot of sites that offer high quality images for free.
Alternatives to Basic Imagery
Once you start looking at different kinds of images, you’ll run across stock photos. These are generic pictures of people in a business setting. There will probably be one of a guy looking at a computer, or a group of people huddled around a desk strategizing about something.
These photos have their place, but they won’t do a lot to help your rankings – especially when there’s a good chance a few hundred other websites have the same pictures. Try to get a little creative, and use pictures that would grab your attention if you were a user. Remember, though, to not lose sight of the fact that the picture will have to relate to the subject of the article.
Preparing Your Images for Use in Blog Posts
So now that you think you’ve found the perfect picture, it’s time to just slap it on the site and go about with the rest of your day, right? Not so fast. Follow the steps below to make sure the images not only enhance the user experience, but also help search engines find and rank your pages.
Naming Your Files
This might seem to be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times this simple step gets overlooked. Give the image file a name, something that’s relevant to the web page. If, for instance, you’re loading a Tampa car accident attorney blog, make sure the name of the file reflects that in some way. Use something like “car accident attorney-tampa.jpg”.
Your users won’t see that filename, and they won’t care if they do. But the search engines will care. That filename will tell the engines just a little bit more about the content of the page. That could help it rank higher.
Choosing the Right Format
The format of the image file will go a long way toward determining how it loads on a page. If you’re using photos, for example, save them as JPGs. If you’re using moving graphics, save them as GIFs. You may also want to consider a format known as WebP. This helps you create files that are smaller than JPGs or GIFs, but maintain the same quality. It might lead to faster downloads for users.
Size Images Properly
You’ll want to size the image just right. If the image’s file size is too big, that could slow the load time of the page. That could bounce some users right off of your site and to a competitor’s. It could also hurt your rankings.
Photoshop is a fantastic program for helping make sure your images are the perfect size while retaining their quality. If you don’t have it, you can use Adobe Spark to resize your images for no charge.
Use Plugins and Tools for Compressing Your Images
Compressing an image file can be tricky. If you over-compress, for lack of a better term, you’ll have a small file size but you’ll sacrifice quality. Compress too much, and you’ll have a great-looking image but the file size will be much too big. Photoshop has an option that lets you save an image specifically for the web. Other popular tools include Kraken and JPEG Mini.
Add the Image to Your Post
Google is getting much more sophisticated when it comes to “seeing” what an image contains. You’ll still want to take a few steps to make it as easy as possible for Google and other search engines to find your images and pages. These include the following.
Use Captions, Alt Tags, and More
There are several other tools you can use to optimize your images. Here’s a quick look at captions, alt tags and structured data.
- Captions – Add a few words to describe what the image represents. This makes it easier for people who scan an article to decide whether the article is worth their time.
- Alt tags – This is techno-speak, but it’s just an alternate way to add text to describe the image. Some people turn off images in their web browser, or have to use a screen reader because they have problems with their vision.
- Structured data – Structured data could help make your images more attractive to Google. The Schema.org blog will show you how to include it on your pages.
XML Sitemaps and Using Image CDNs
Without getting farther into the techno weeds, so to speak, XML image sitemaps and image CDNs are also great image optimization tools. An XML sitemap basically lists all of the most important pages on your site, and gives search engines a better idea of the structure of your site. Adding images to yours could help boost your image SEO.
An image CDN (content delivery network) will help get your images to users as fast as possible. Cloudflare is a free CDN that will help you organize how your images load. Again, speed is important to reduce bounce rate, which, in turn, will help your ranking.
[Also check out: SEO Checklist Any Website Can Follow for Healthy Ranking]
Let Site Social SEO Help to Boost Your Website’s Ranking
Hopefully, you have more of an appreciation for how images can boost your SEO. The experts with Site Social are ready to show you all the ways we can improve your online presence. Call 407-712-0494 or contact us online to learn more.