Are you feeling frustrated with your website’s sluggish speed? Does every click lead to a test of patience, with pages that take forever to load?
We’ve all been there, and we understand how it can affect not only your user experience but also your website’s visibility on search engines.
What if we told you there’s a powerful yet often overlooked way to give your website the speed boost it needs? It lies within the images on your site.
That’s right – your graphics, visuals, and photographs hold the potential to turn your website’s speed around. This process is known as image optimisation, a key aspect of on-page SEO.
But what does image optimisation involve? How can it help improve your site’s visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo?
In this article, we’re going to unravel the mysteries surrounding image optimisation, explain why it’s so essential, and most importantly, guide you on how to leverage it effectively for a faster, more efficient website.
Why is Image optimisation Essential in SEO?
When you optimise your images, you enhance the content on your web page. The image descriptions, or alt tags, provide search engines with more information, improving your rankings. Furthermore, optimised images can lead to faster loading times, providing a better user experience, which is another crucial factor in SEO.
The Connection Between Image optimisation and Website Speed
When discussing image optimisation, one aspect that cannot be overlooked is its impact on website speed. Every element on your web page, from text to images, contributes to the total load time of the site. However, images, due to their often-large file sizes, can significantly impact this load time.
The larger the file size, the longer it takes for the image and, consequently, the webpage to load.
The process of reducing the file size of your images without losing much of their visual quality is known as image compression.
This is a crucial step in image optimisation. By compressing your images, you are essentially reducing the amount of data that a browser needs to download when someone visits your webpage.
This leads to faster page load times, as the browser has less data to pull and thus can render the page more quickly.
Let’s put it in perspective. Imagine a visitor on a slow internet connection trying to access your webpage filled with high-resolution, unoptimised images.
Each image might take seconds or even minutes to fully load. During this time, the visitor might become frustrated and decide to leave your site – a scenario you definitely want to avoid.
However, if the same images were compressed and optimised correctly, they would load significantly faster, providing a smoother, more enjoyable browsing experience for the visitor.
This positive user experience can lead to lower bounce rates and higher time on page – two factors that search engines like Google consider when ranking websites.
Moreover, search engines themselves favour faster websites. Google, for instance, has openly stated that site speed is a ranking factor for its search results. This means that a faster website doesn’t just improve user experience; it could also potentially boost your visibility in search engine rankings.
There are several apps and plugins for image optimisation, including:
- Imagify Image optimiser (12)
- WP Smush (1)
- Affinity Photo (2)
- Content delivery network (CDN) providers (3)
- Other standalone image optimisers3
There are several Shopify apps for image optimisation, including:
- Image optimisation Compression (1).
- Image optimiser (2).
- AVADA SEO:Image optimiser (3).
- TinyIMG SEO, Speed & Image optimiser (3).
- Crush: Speed & Image optimiser (4).
How to optimise Images for SEO
Best Practices for Image File Naming
The Importance of Descriptive File Names
File naming is an often overlooked aspect of image optimisation. Search engines don’t just look at the image content; they also look at file names. Descriptive names can give search engines clues about the subject matter of the image.
Best practices for image file naming include:
- Creating a file naming convention that describes what the file contains and how it relates to other files
- Using descriptive keywords in the file name, organized in descending order of importance
- Separating keywords with hyphens and using all lowercase letters
- Keeping file names short and concise
- Establishing a folder hierarchy to organize files
- Creating a naming convention before collecting files to prevent a backlog of unorganized content
Customising File Names for Better SEO
When naming your image files, consider what keywords people might use when searching for your content. Including relevant keywords in your file names can help boost your SEO.
To customise file names for better SEO, follow these best practices:
- Make your filenames short but descriptive.
- Add your focus keyword at the beginning of the file name.
- If your file is an image, its file name should reflect the alt tag description.
- Change the file name from the default to help the search engines understand your image and improve your SEO value.
- Use hyphens in your filename instead of underscores or spaces.
- Don’t “keyword stuff” when naming images for SEO.
- If you need to change your filename, create a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL.
Understanding Alt Text and Its Importance
Writing Effective Alt Text
Alt text or alternative text is a brief description that you add to your images. It helps search engines understand what the image is about, and it’s essential for website visitors who can’t see the image.
Writing effective alt text is crucial for making digital content accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments. Alt text should be concise, descriptive, and convey the content and purpose of an image in an unambiguous manner. It should not be longer than a sentence or two, and should consider what is important about an image.
When writing alt text, consider the context of the image and why it’s there in the first place. Avoid using alt text for purely decorative images, as they are irrelevant to SEO efforts and can muddle search engine indexing.
To write alt text in Microsoft 365 products, check that “Automatically generate alt text for me” is selected under Automatic Alt Text in the Accessibility options.
On social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, you can add alt text to images by choosing “Alt text” and typing a description of up to 420 characters.
Remember, well-written alt text dramatically reduces ambiguity and improves user experience for all.
How Alt Text Boosts SEO
Alt text is crucial for SEO as it serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it enhances the ranking of images in Google Images, resulting in increased traffic.
Secondly, it plays a significant role in improving accessibility, which is an essential aspect of web design.
Originally, alt text was intended to describe images to visitors who couldn’t see them, such as those using screen readers or browsers that block images. Additionally, it benefits individuals with visual impairments or those who struggle to visually identify an image.
By including alt text with images, you ensure that all users, regardless of their visual ability, can fully appreciate the content on your site. Moreover, alt text contributes to topical relevance and further improves image search rankings and image packs.
While alt text presents an opportunity to include your target keyword, it’s crucial not to overdo it at the expense of accessibility.
The Role of File Size in Image optimisation
Compressing Images: Why and How?
Compressing images reduces their file size, leading to faster load times without significantly sacrificing image quality. Various tools are available to help you compress images while maintaining their visual integrity.
Here are the steps to compress images in WordPress:
- Compress your images: You can use an online compression tool to compress your images quickly. Some popular online compression tools are TinyPNG, Compressor.io, and Kraken.io. Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin like Smush or ShortPixel to compress your images automatically.
- Serve your images through a content delivery network (CDN): A CDN is a powerful tool that uses a network of servers to deliver your content to users from the server closest to them. Jetpack’s image CDN is a popular option for WordPress users.
- optimise your images for the web: You can optimise your images for the web by reducing their file size, resizing them to the correct dimensions, and choosing the right file format. You can use a WordPress plugin like EWWW Image optimiser or Imagify to optimise your images automatically.
Here’s a more detailed step-by-step guide to compressing images in WordPress:
- Compress your images:
- Method 1: Use an online compression tool like TinyPNG, Compressor.io, or Kraken.io. These tools allow you to upload your images and compress them quickly and easily.
- Method 2: Use a WordPress plugin like Smush or ShortPixel to compress your images automatically. These plugins will compress your images as you upload them to your WordPress site.
- Serve your images through a content delivery network (CDN):
- A CDN is a powerful tool that uses a network of servers to deliver your content to users from the server closest to them. Jetpack’s image CDN is a popular option for WordPress users. To use Jetpack’s image CDN, you need to install and activate the Jetpack plugin on your WordPress site.
- optimise your images for the web:
- Reduce the file size of your images by compressing them using an online compression tool or a WordPress plugin like EWWW Image optimiser or Imagify.
- Resize your images to the correct dimensions for your website. You can use an image editing tool like Photoshop or GIMP to resize your images.
- Choose the right file format for your images. JPEG is best for photographs, while PNG is best for graphics and images with transparent backgrounds.
By following these steps, you can compress your images in WordPress and improve the performance of your website.
Here is a step-by-step guide to compress images in Shopify:
- Use an image optimisation app: Install a Shopify image optimisation app like Crush Pics or EComposer. These apps will automatically compress your images and save you a lot of space. You can also set them to automatically compress new images as they are uploaded to your store (12).
- Manually compress images: You can use an online compressor like TinyPNG to manually compress any images (JPG or PNG). Simply upload your images to the website, and it will compress them for you. You can then download the compressed images and upload them to your Shopify store (2).
- Use Shopify’s Image Compression feature: Shopify has an Image Compression feature that automatically compresses your images using a variety of algorithms. This feature is easy to use and will save you a lot of space. To use this feature, go to your Shopify admin panel, click on Settings, then click on Files. From there, you can enable Image Compression (3).
- Use Shopify’s Image Resizer: Shopify’s Image Resizer tool allows you to resize and optimise your images for different applications. To use this tool, go to shopify.com/tools/image-resizer, upload your images, select the size you want, and click “Submit”. You can then download the resized images and upload them to your Shopify store (4).
Image compression is an important aspect of Shopify speed optimisation. Compressed images take up less space, load faster, and improve the overall user experience of your store.
Balancing Quality and Speed: The Challenge of Image File Size
Striking the right balance between image quality and file size can be a challenge. High-quality images can significantly increase file size, slowing down your website.
On the other hand, compressing images too much can reduce their quality, affecting user experience. The trick lies in finding the sweet spot where your images are high-quality and the file size is optimised.
Advanced Image optimisation Techniques
Making Images Mobile-Friendly
Responsive Design and Mobile optimisation
In an increasingly mobile world, your images need to be mobile-friendly. This means they should be able to adjust and display correctly on devices of different sizes. Responsive design helps ensure your images look great on all devices, thereby improving the overall mobile optimisation of your site.
Using Structured Data for Rich Results
What is Schema Markup and How to Use It?
Structured data, or schema markup, is a powerful SEO tool. It helps search engines understand your content better, potentially leading to rich results. By using schema markup, you can provide specific information about your images, such as the photographer or the camera used, further enhancing your image optimisation efforts.
Image optimisation is more than just reducing file size or adding alt text. It’s a combination of various techniques that enhance the user experience and help search engines understand your content better.
By following the best practices and advanced techniques discussed in this article, you can ensure your images contribute positively to your on-page SEO.
If you’re a small business owner looking for professional help with your on-page SEO, consider reaching out to experts who can assist you. XenMediaMarketing offers specialised on-page SEO services for small businesses that can help you optimise your website, including image optimisation, for better visibility and improved user experience.
How does image optimisation impact website speed?
Image optimisation can significantly improve website speed. By reducing image file sizes through compression, you can decrease page load times, leading to a better user experience and potentially higher search engine rankings.
What are the best practices for image file naming in SEO?
Use descriptive, relevant names for your image files. Incorporate keywords that users might use when searching for your content. Avoid generic file names and instead, use names that give an indication of the image content.
How does alt text contribute to image optimisation for SEO?
Alt text provides search engines with information about the content of an image. This is especially useful when the image cannot be loaded or for users who rely on screen readers. Including relevant keywords in your alt text can help improve your SEO.
What is the importance of mobile-friendly images in SEO?
With more users accessing websites from mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure that your images display correctly on all device sizes. Mobile-friendly, or responsive images, can improve user experience and contribute positively to your SEO.
How does structured data enhance image optimisation?
Structured data or schema markup provides search engines with more detailed information about your images. This can help search engines understand your content better, potentially leading to rich results and improved SEO.