You Need To Do These 5 Things to Optimize Images for the Web and SEO
Let me start by saying something completely generic yet always appropriately relevant when we talk about blogging and images: a picture is worth a thousand words.
Now, let’s scale that back a bit because it’s more accurately worth about 100 words. Aka, for every 100 words you write, you should have a visual for your audience. If you’re anything like me, that means you need to have a steady flow of amazing images at your disposal. Smile, Fido! That’s a lot of pictures, so you need to learn how to optimize images for the web appropriately.
But wait, there’s more! Inserting that cute pup with a newly formed grin on his face isn’t enough. Those images now have to be entirely relevant. And we thought writing was the hard part.
For someone who does informational posts, I would really love it if I could just pass off my dog as an appropriate companion for my content.
See what I just did there? 😉
Anyway, why is that important? Because if you’re talking about a fabulous new restaurant you visited but your pictures are of your shoes, new visitors that come to your site based on your text keyword will get REALLY CONFUSED. So, let’s say you’re talking about Stickyboos, a new place where you can get sticky boos (whatever they are- let’s pretend it’s food), but your images are named Bonkyboo-shoes-13635.jpg.
Someone searches Google images for Bonkyboo, hoping to get more info on Bonkyboo, gets to your site and you’re talking about Stickyboos. OR, they search for Stickyboos, get to your site and your pics are of Bonkyboos. For someone brand new that just arrived at your site organically, it’s about as confusing as the two brand names I just made up.
Which now brings me to a semi-technical talk.
How to optimize images for the web for best SEO performance:
1. Start off with the correct file name!
When you’ve determined the main keyword for your post, make sure to rename your images so they contain your keyword! Simple and to the point here.
2. Scale your images down!
Don’t just upload a large 3000×2000 pixel image when your blog’s maximum width is 700 pixels. That means that the entire image loads up for the viewer, taking up precious time, and then gets scaled down responsively. You want to deliver already sized images to optimize your site loading time. To make sure the images load up crisp on retina displays, you should double the width and have that as the maximum pixels for any of your images. Your site loading speed affects your SEO score!
3. Remove unnecessary image data (EXIF) and optimize with Photoshop.
Your best bet for optimization will be through Photoshop. This is the process I follow every single time I get my images ready for upload on my blog. I sacrifice a TINY bit of quality to reap enormous SEO benefits, though you can opt not to lose any quality but still save plenty of space on your server with scaled images.
a. Open up the image you plan on uploading in Photoshop. Scale down the picture to your blog’s specifications (I typically scale all my images down to 1000px wide/1000px high).
b. If you notice the resolution of your image is above 72, uncheck the “Resample Image” button and reduce the resolution to 72.
c. Go to File—>Save for Web & Devices
d. Use the below settings as your default (File format is JPEG, check Optimized and Embed Color Profile, Quality at 70, Metadata should be None to remove EXIF). You can change the Quality if you feel the quality of your image is too significantly reduced at 70. Play around with it and see where your happy medium lies.
P.S. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can use things like PicMonkey or FotoFlexer on the web, or download GIMP (Photoshop’s free, clumsy twin brother that can do everything Photoshop can but really doesn’t look good doing it).
4. Add the Title and Alt text fields.
The Alt field is basically the text description of your image. If a user decides to pin your image, the text that displays below it in Pinterest is its Alt tag. Always include your main keyword in the title and alt fields!
5. Use appropriate captions when needed.
People use this to scan an article quickly! This isn’t necessarily for SEO, but it’s an added bonus that enriches your content and makes things a lot more palatable.