You can’t have a website without images. Photos of your products, team members or offices all add interest and support your copy. These images can also be an opportunity to optimise your site for SEO. If you manage the content on your website, learning to how to optimise your images correctly will prove to be an invaluable skill.
What is SEO?
If you’re not familiar with the term Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO), here’s a quick explanation. SEO is the practice of optimising a website, using keywords, to improve its visibility on search engines such as Google. If your site is properly optimised, it will rank better in organic searches.
Keywords are commonly used in web copy and blogs to help search engines understand what a page is all about. The trick is to use them in a natural way and resist keyword stuffing. This practice is not only frowned upon by search engines (and could get you penalised), it won’t win you any fans. Visitors to your site have no desire to struggle through keyword dense copy that doesn’t make sense or add value.
Why should you optimise your images?
There are three big reasons why it makes sense to optimise images:
- Search engines can’t ‘read’ images
Search engines scan text, not images. So when they come across an image, they can’t see it and rely on the file name and alternative text to understand what it is. If you haven’t named the file or provided any other information, the search engine will ignore it.
- It improves the user experience
Blind or partially-sighted users also won’t be able to see the images you’ve used. Without some text to help them understand what they’re looking at, they’re likely to leave your site. These bounces can affect your ranking, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to optimise your images.
- Large image files affect your site speed
Web sites that take too long to load can put visitors off and high-quality images tend to be large files. But you don’t have to sacrifice sharp images for the sake of reducing your site speed. You can reduce the file size without losing quality and cut down the loading time.
Optimising your images makes as much sense for your SEO as it does for improving the experience visitors will have on your site. People are happy to spend their time on a site that loads quickly and includes good quality images with proper descriptions.
Three simple steps to optimising images for your site
You needn’t worry that optimising your images requires a lot of technical knowledge. It’s not time-consuming either. And once you know what to do, you’ll get into the habit of optimising new images as soon as you add them to your site.
Step 1: Start with a sensible file name
Whether you download an image from a free stock photography website or from your own camera, you’re likely to end up with a meaningless file name full of letters and numbers. For example, a picture of your MD should be saved as:
KEVIN BACON – MANAGING DIRECTOR – KEYWORD/PAGE.JPEG
As you can see from the above, you also have an opportunity to include a relevant keyword here. But again, don’t stuff in a string of keywords. Make sure the keyword you use is relevant to the page the image will be appearing on.
Step 2: Add some alt text
This text appears when a visitor moves their mouse over it and can be used to provide them with more information. Using the example above, the alt text for an image of your MD could include the following:
KEVIN BACON – MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HAM & SPAM. FOR ALL YOUR PORCINE PRODUCT REQUIREMENTS CONTACT HAM & SPAM TODAY ON (555) 555 5555.
This text provides search engines with valuable information about the image. It explains the picture, relates to the subject of the page and includes a strong call to action.
Step 3: Slim down large files
You may need some image editing software to achieve this, or if you’re running your site on WordPress, you could take advantage of a plugin to automatically reduce file sizes. While you’re at it, make sure you save images in the right format for the web. Get to know the different file types commonly used for images (JPEG, PNG and GIF) and when to use them.
You don’t need to be a coding whiz to make the most of the images on your site. It’s quick, simple and painless once you get the hang of it. And it will help with your organic search engine rankings. Of course, if you’d prefer to have a professional handle the details, you can contact Web Changes and opt for one of our affordable web maintenance packages.