Thought that your SEO tasks were limited to on-page copy alone? Think again. Among the many factors that can influence or drive an effective SEO campaign is optimising website images for better website visibility and search engine rankings. How so? High-quality images can enhance the user experience and engage visitors—a plus, to be sure—however, images that are too high in resolution can also slow down your website, lower the user’s end experience, and see a higher bounce rate if not optimised properly. All of which can affect your search engine ranking and SEO score!
To make sure you’re not setting up otherwise effective SEO campaigns only to lose your hard-earned traffic through poorly optimised images, we’ve summarised the need-to-know information about image preparation and offered some tips to help you optimise your website images for better SEO.
The Importance of Website Image Optimisation
As more and more users access websites through a variety of digital devices, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve optimised your images for a plethora of different screens. (Think about the difference between loading a website on your desktop versus a mobile phone, for example. Not only do website images not optimised for mobile devices look terrible–theyRe much more likely to have you clicking away in no time!)
Among the benefits gained when considering your website layout, images, and design for multiple device types, you’ll be able to:
- Improve your user experience
- Reduce your bounce rate
- Support a better SEO score
We’ll go into each of these further below, but in summary, know that forgetting to optimise your images for all digital devices can undo the hard work put into strategising an otherwise excellent SEO campaign.
Let’s break down the components and features that need to be well optimised for great website image quality and a good user experience below.
The Effects of Image Captions on Your SEO
Image captions—never heard of them? Let it be known from here forth that image captions, or the text that appears below the image on your website pages, play an essential role in SEO.
Among the many pros that a well-written image caption can provide for your website are:
- Context for Image Search Results:
Added context for the image and website page
- Search Engine Context:
You can help search engines better understand and contextualise your website and content
- Skim-worthy Copy:
Data shows that image captions are more likely to be read by users than your full page body text which means you can engage viewers and get the same message across in fewer lines.
Now that you know what an image caption is and the importance of including them on your page, here’s how you can go about writing solid image captions that will support your image SEO.
How to Write a Strong Image Caption for SEO
We’ll keep this brief: to write effective image captions, we always suggest including:
Relevant image SEO keywords
A brief, informative description of the image.
Both of these will help search engines contextualise and index your web page content more accurately and improve your image’s visibility in Google search results. For those new to the digital marketing world, we’ve summarised some of the best first steps you can take to optimise your website’s images for searches and SEO below. These are beginner-friendly and will help boost your website’s visibility and overall user experience. (Win!)
Have you been kicking around the digital marketing world for a while? Scroll down to a few more detailed best practices that you can trial when you feel more certain about managing image file optimisation.
How to Optimise Your Image Quality for Search Engines and SEO
Here are 8 effective and beginner-friendly ways to optimise your images for a strong SEO score and boost your chances of showing up on Google Images.
- Prioritise good-quality photos:
High-quality images enhance your user experience and engage visitors; that said, they can also slow down your website if not optimised well. Here is where you’ll want to strike a balance between high-resolution, clear images and a medium-sized image file, as large file sizes can lead to slower loading speeds.
- Compress your images:
Compressing images can help you reduce the image file size without compromising image quality. You can use image optimisation tools such as TinyPNG, ShortPixel, or Optimizilla to compress your image dimensions, image file size, and make them more website-loading friendly.
- Use descriptive image file names:
Instead of generic image file names such as “IMG_1234”, we suggest using descriptive file names that can help search engines understand the content of the image and contextualise your brand.
- Take advantage of alt-text:
Alt-text is a brief description of the image that appears when the image fails to load–not to be confused with an image caption. Alt-text is back-end / off-page copy and it helps search engines understand what the image is about if or when an image fails to show up.
Another great feature for alt-text is that it can help visually impaired users understand the content of the image. We always recommend using descriptive alt text that includes your primary SEO keywords as well as a brief description of the image itself.
Note: alt-text is not the same as alt tags. More on this another day!
- Consider best image format:
JPEG and PNG are the most common image formats used for websites with JPEG image files best suited for photographs and a PNG image file is most suitable for images with transparency features. (Like logos.) Regardless of your format type, don’t forget about file size, image file name, and image size!
- Use responsive images:
Responsive images are images that adapt to the screen size of the device being used to view the website–like desktops versus mobile phones, for example. Using responsive images ensures that each photo is optimised for all devices regardless of how your user logs on.
- Use an image sitemap:
A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website–including images. A well structured sitemap can help search engines find and index your images and website pages and improve your visual search engine visibility
- Optimise image metadata:
Image metadata includes information such as the image title, a brief description, and any copyright information. Optimising image metadata (sometimes called meta description) can help search engines understand your image better and lead to better search engine results.
Optimising your website’s images for SEO standards is a basic best practice for improving your website’s visibility and overall search engine ranking. By following the above simple steps, you can ensure that your images are high-quality, optimised, easily discoverable for search engines, and that you’re offering a great website experience for potential visitors.
If you’re more experienced in the digital marketing space, read on to learn more about our last few recommendations that you can take to improve your website’s overall SEO performance. New to marketing? Don’t worry—the above best practices are more than sufficient when you’re just getting started.
Advanced Tips for Optimisation Image SEO
If you feel confident that you’ve got the basics of image optimisation down pat, read on to learn more about some of the advanced steps you can take to even further boost your website’s user experience and SEO.
Image Structured Data for SEO
Structured data (also referred to as schema markup) is a type of code that helps search engines better understand the content on your website. When you add structured data to your website images, you can enhance your image and website visibility in Google images and Google search engine results and increase the likelihood of appearing in rich snippets. (Or, the search results that include additional information such as images, ratings, business information, and more.)
Among the types of structured data that can be applied to unique images, you can test Product, Recipe, and Article schema. With the right choice, your image schema markup can offer search engines more context and ultimately help improve your SEO performance.
Want to better your overall user website experience? Lazy loading is an image loading strategy that delays the image loading until it is fully within the user’s view point. Why would anyone do this? Lazy loading can help improve your site’s speed, especially when your page has multiple high-resolution images. Since page loading speed is a top factor that can affect your SEO, implementing lazy loading can boost your website’s SEO performance.
Social Media and Image SEO
Did you think that your social media platforms were far removed from your website? Think again! Social media content—especially those that are image-heavy like Instagram—can be a fantastic prop that helps boost your overall website and SEO campaigns. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook use specific meta tags (kind of like keywords for your images) that help determine which images will be displayed when your content is shared.
By optimising your images for social media sharing (and in line with your optimisation strategy for website images), you can:
- Increase the chances of your content being shared–and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.
- Improve your website’s SEO performance
- Generate more backlinks–another pivotal factor of strong SEO.
Monitor Your Image SEO Performance
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s essential to regularly monitor your SEO performance to identify areas for improvement and ensure your efforts are showing positive results. (This includes checking your image SEO as well!)
To track, measure, and monitor your SEO campaigns, we recommend using tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics to follow search traffic and identify which images are performing well.
Much like every other component of a strong digital marketing campaign, regularly reviewing your image SEO performance can help you make data-driven changes and maintain a competitive search engine score.
Mastering Your Image and Website SEO with Edge Marketing
Image optimisation is a critical aspect of strong SEO that is often overlooked, but not anymore! By implementing the strategies mentioned above, you can improve your website’s visibility, overall user experience, and SEO performance. Feeling tight for time? If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur who has run out of hours in the day, speak to the Edge Marketing team about offloading your digital marketing efforts. We can offer a consultation that will help you strategise a list of SEO steps to take, or we can take over your entire SEO strategy when you’re ready to take back your time.
As digital marketing experts, the Edge Marketing team knows the ins and outs of good (read: effective) SEO and how to better build your brand. Helping clients across Australia find, connect, and engage with their audiences online, we know what it takes to increase your brand’s visibility and reach your business goals online.
If you’re interested in learning more about image SEO best practices, digital marketing strategies, and how you can automate filling your lead funnel with good SEO, follow along with the Edge Marketing blog or connect with our team today. Each week we publish at least one blog post that deep dives into online strategy and best practices and speak with new clients who are ready to give their online presence a boost.