5 Ways to Use Images to Boost SEO
Website optimization has become increasingly demanding, given that the majority of visits happen via mobile devices. That means that content should be concise, and that overall readability gains a whole new dimension.
It would appear to some that the actual content matters the least nowadays, given that the focus is on keeping visitors on the actual page. Sadly enough, the average visitor has the attention span of a five year old, what with all the daily tasks that are all-too-often impossible to finish in time.
As a result, content on the go has become all the rage. People access their emails and browse offers while commuting, and the stats show that many people access their inboxes before even getting out of bed. That’s the world we live in, and content simply must follow suit.
When it comes to images, they are equally important to boosting your SEO efforts as content is (if not even more important). The main reason for that lies in the fact that image search is gaining popularity, which, simply put, means that an image can lead visitors to your website, which is an opportunity not to be missed by any means. Although there are services that can manage your SEO for you, knowing the ins and outs of image SEO can give you a massive advantage in the competitive landscape of gaining Google traffic.
One Word: Google
Where there is SEO, there is also Google. We believe there’s no need to explain that Google is the single most used web search tool, which means that it gets to set the rules. And it does — on a consistent basis at that.
Google image search generates 27% of overall daily queries, according to Moz. The search engine has recently updated its image search interface, introducing the “Visit [the page the image appears on]”, which replaced the “View Image” button. As a result, websites are generating dramatically increased traffic.
If we add to that the fact that Google is developing new image recognition tools (e.g., reverse image search and Google Lens) and is adding new features (such as is shoppable ads on Google images), image optimization becomes even more important.
All in all, it’s high time you optimized your images, if you haven’t already done so. How is it done?
SEO Image Optimization
Image optimization for SEO is more straightforward than, say, web content optimization, in that it follows a couple of set guidelines, as follows:
- Image naming and description
- Image format, dimension and size
- Image compression
- Stellar supporting content
Image Naming and Description
How do you title your images? It’s done in the same way that you write titles and snippets for your content. Basically, image names should feature target keywords separated by hyphens without stop words (articles and prepositions, for example).
In this way, your images will rank better and drive increased traffic to your website. To maximize the effects of the strategy, make certain that your website is mobile-ready and features stellar, SEO-optimized content.
Once you have the names for your image, it’s time to consider proper alt and title attributes. These provide context to the image, boosting user experience by extension. It is, therefore, of crucial importance to use proper grammar and take your time in explaining the context in a concise way.
Image Format, Dimension and Size
Image sizes affect loading times, which may make or break overall user experience, especially if you keep in mind that mobile browsing is on the rise. The first choice are JPEGs, as they are smaller in size, retain the quality of the image and are more SEO-friendly. PNGs are used when transparent backgrounds are called for. GIFs are not a good idea unless for small animations. Note, however, that they are limited to 256 colors.
When it comes to image dimensions, they should not exceed the average desktop screen resolutions, normally 2,560 pixels in width. Since images automatically adjust to the screen size, they will not be displayed properly if not formatted in this way.
There are various strategies for boosting the loading time of a website, but using HTML or CSS to reduce pixels is not recommended. Why? Because even if a smaller version of the image will be displayed, the image will still retain the original file size.
It is better to use a compression tool, of which there is no lack whatsoever. Some of the popular choices include TinyPNG, GIMP and Smush, but by all means do your research. Different tools work better for different people.
There is a useful trick when it comes to displaying different image formats. Namely, you may opt to upload the same images in different dimensions and choose which ones to display with the help of a plug-in (or the <img srcset=""> attribute).
Stellar Supporting Content
Need we really emphasize how important high-quality, SEO-optimized content is? To this day, the quality of the content remains the single determining factor in regards of website ranking, even with paid ads well in place.
Since image search brings in new visitors, it is important that content on your webpage relay the message that your brand is trustworthy and reliable and that your offer is made by professionals in the field. The content should also be relevant. For example, if the image shows a product, the page should feature the description of that product.
Images have their purpose, but also their place. Don’t place them randomly on your website just to attract new visitors.
As is the case with all things SEO, image reporting is an important step in determining the future efforts in this regard. Google Search Console is the first tool of choice for many, as it is accessible to all webmasters and easy to use.
To track the success of your image optimization efforts in Google Search Console, you should:
- Log in to your verified Search Console property
- Select Performance Report
- Set the search type to “Image”
- Click “Apply”
The search results show insights on clicks, queries, pages, impressions, devices, countries and CTR. They don’t show image file names but the actual pages they are displayed on. That is the only drawback of Google Search Console — it doesn’t differentiate between different images on the same page.
As you can see, images can boost your SEO efforts dramatically, and the optimization process is by far easier than content optimization. Therefore, make certain to include keywords and descriptions to all images on your websites and watch traffic increase over time. It’s as simple as that!