Image SEO for Search Engine Friendly Websites
An excellent way to make your article more vivid and search engine friendly is to integrate related images on it.
Use the most possible small images which are easily downloadable by the user do not forget to use the right compression, alt text and right name.
A picture worth thousand words, images are the best source for making your readers understand your articles or website better. For example, an illustration of financial data in a chart as a picture or a data flow diagram, a time line or any relevant diagrams. Images make readers capture essence of your article in much easier way. It is recommendable to include images for each of your website posts, pages, blogs, social media posts and articles to attract more readers, visitors and essentially more traffic to your website by optimising your images for search engines, social media and ultimately people in general.
Finding the right image
Include the right image(s) in the selected web page, post, blog or social media that has a high impact on search engine optimisation. Adding organic images such as your team photo, office building, office interior, completed projects and work done gives you an excellent opportunity optimise your images to search engine.
Images included in the website should reflect the topic of your post and must be related to the subject of the article. This is one of many techniques of SEO which helps the search engines ranks your article better for the keyword optimised for as the article is surrounded by related text, keywords and phrases.
There are number of alternative options available to refrain from using stock images for better search engine optimisation. If you are unable to include your own images you may find other sources to find unique and genuine images from Flickr.com and other available sources. Click here for more image resources. You should stay away from the obvious stock photos such as in shutter stock and 123RF. It almost seems like images with people always look like stock photos, unless taken by yourself. In the end, that is still the best idea.
Obvious alternatives for photos could be illustrations and graphs. An honorable mention should go to animated GIFs, as these seem to become more and more popular these days.
Do not overload your website or posts with GIF images though its popular these days as this will have a bad impact on user experience and visitor reading will be certainly interrupted by the movement of the image.
Preparing images for use in your article
When you have found the right image to include on your website post, page or social media you must start optimising the image for the article topic. Following are some of the steps that you need to follow to the images for your website or social media post.
Choose the right file name
File name is the first attribute to consider when starting to optimise images for search engines. This is the prime location Google for instance look for the chosen keyword without even looking at the actual image. For example: if your image is a sunrise in Sandbank beach in Poole, the file name shouldn’t be DSC2516.jpg, but sandbank-beach-poole-sunrise.jpg. The main keyword would be Sandbank Beach, as that is the main subject of the photo.
Scale for image SEO
Loading time influences User experience (UX), SEO and eventually faster loading drives more traffic to your website. The faster the site, the easier to visit and index a page is. Do not load really big images and show it really small. like using a 4500×2500 pixels image and showing it at 250×150 pixels size.
The entire image still has to be loaded. Scale the image to the size you want to show it. WordPress helps by providing the image in multiple sizes after upload already. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the file size is optimized as well, that’s just the image size.
Use responsive images
Use of responsive images is essential for better user experience on mobile devices and reduces bounce rates. Bruce Lawson‘s talk at WordCamp London (2015) discusses about responsive images and the integration of the picture attribute. RICG Responsive Images For WordPress helps you include the srcset attribute to your images, making it possible to serve a different I’mage per mobile device screen width. Latest versions of WordPress includes this feature and many SEO features for better UX for websites implemented by WordPress.
Reduce file size
The next step in image SEO is to ensure reduces file size while maintaining should be to make sure that scaled image is served in the smallest file size possible. There are tools for that. Of course, you could just export the image and test what percentage of quality is acceptable preferably 100%.
Optimize image file size, for instance using JPEGMini
Next to using tools like the ones mentioned above, please use tools like YSlow to check if your image optimization succeeded.
Adding the image to your article
Don’t just stuff it in somewhere. I already mentioned adding it close to related textual content. That simply helps a lot. It makes sure the content is relevant for the image as well, as it is the other way around.
The caption of the image is the text that accompanies the image. If you look at the images in this article, it’s the text in the grey box below it. Why is that text important for image SEO as well? People use that text in scanning an article. Next to headings, people tend to scan the image and include the caption as well in that scan. Nielsen actually wrote back in 1997: “Elements that enhance scanning include headings, large type, bold text, highlighted text, bulleted lists, graphics, captions, topic sentences, and tables of contents.” In 2012, KissMetric even stated that “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”
Do we add captions to all images? No. As mentioned, sometimes images just serve another purpose. Decide whether the image at hand is an image you want to use for SEO as well or not. Keeping over-optimization in mind, I’d say you should add a caption if it would make sense to the visitor if that caption is added. Think about the visitor first, don’t add a caption just for image SEO.
Alt text and title text
A descriptive text is displayed when an image is not displayed on the web page for whatever the reason. This will give the reader some information about the image that you would like to showcase on the website or social media post. Wikipedia says: “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost.” Be sure to add alt texts. Make sure the alt text includes the SEO keyword for that page and relates to / describes the image.
When hovering an image, Microsoft Edge shows the alt text as a ‘tooltip’. Chrome shows the title text like it was intended. Title text for images is similar and a lot of people that use these simply copy the alt text. “The title attribute can be very useful, it offers a good way to provide non-essential information, for example, the mood of the image, or what it means in context.”
OpenGraph and Twitter Cards
OpenGraph image attributes are used for social sharing. If you add the right image tag to your <head> section like this:
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/link-to-image.jpg” />
That will make sure the image is included in your share on Facebook (and OpenGraph is also used for Pinterest, for instance).
Social plugins such as Yeost has a Social section where you can set and even preview your Facebook post. Higher quality larger and optimised images are used in social platforms for better performance. If you have set this up correctly, and it doesn’t work, try to flush Facebook’s cache in the URL Debugger.
Twitter Cards works in the same way and social plugin help you set up.
Do not start a paragraph or page with an image and it may irritate your readers. Always start the post and its paragraphs with text and align the images to the right. Make this as a regular practice and keep the readers feel comfortable reading your post with images aligned nicely.
Maintain the left reading line; don’t align images to the left
XML image sitemaps
Image sitemap is another SEO technique to tell Google and other search engines to index your page. Google is pretty clear about this:
To give Google information about images on your site, you’ll need to add image-specific tags to a sitemap. You can use a separate sitemap to list images, or you can add image information to an existing sitemap. Use the method that works for you!
It has the same importance as your general sitemap for your website. So do not forget about the image sitemap and do a check for correctness in sitemap.xml as these are found in general website sitemap. Adding images to your XML sitemaps help Google index your images, so be sure to do so for better image SEO.
Wrapping it up
In summary image search engine optimisation (SEO) plays a major role in search engine indexing and making your post, article, webpages and blogs easily searchable and found by readers. It has number of elements which an SEO specialist need to consider. All attributes discussed contribute to a better user experience as well as SEO. Try to make Google more intelligent with rich data that you provide than fooling Google which benefits no one.
Few points to ponder when adding an image to an article:
- Use a relevant image that matches your text
- Use the right file name for your image
- Make sure image dimension match the image size as displayed
- Use srcset attribute where possible
- Ensure faster loading of pages by reducing image file sizes
- Add a caption for easier scanning of the page
- Include alt text for image and title text (optional)
- Add OpenGraph for social platoforms and Twitter Card tags for the image
- Always start a paragraph with text and don’t break the left reading line using an image
- Use images in your XML sitemaps
Images also plays a major role in conversion rate in addition to contributing to SEO and user experience(UX).