How to Optimize Images for the Web [Video]

Image optimization is a sweet way to turn eye-candy into an SEO delight. More than a visual way to break up text, pictures tucked neatly into your blog post can add a boost to search engine rankings. Here’s how:

Choosing the Right Image

fashion model holding a lollipop over her right eye to represent image optimization
More than eye-candy, image optimization can add a sweet boost to SEO.

Select a picture that directly ties into and supports your story.

We are in a generation of skimmers. People are more likely to scan a blog post than they are to read the words in their entirety.

Using images to support your blog’s topic, as well as to break up text into skim-able bits, enhances your post’s readability.

Pictures are more than a treat for the eye. Image optimization is a smart way to squeeze the nectar out of SEO.

Here’s another tidbit:

What’s in a Name?

Which is more attractive to you: “DSC_1137.jpg” or “Infographic for image optimization”?

The first option tells you nothing and can leave a sour taste in your mouth. The second is descriptive as well as easy to identify in your image sitemap or photo library. Your image file name can also house your keyword or keyword phrase, adding an extra boost of flavor to your SEO.

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Size Matters

There are many reasons you should resize your images.

  • Large images can drastically slow your page speed, which could cause viewers to become impatient and click away from your website.
  • Images that are too big can look bulky and unattractive inside of a blog post.
  • Improperly sized images can make your website’s theme go wonky.
  • Uniformed photographs, or pictures that are all the same size or close to size, tie a blog post together in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.

Image format can also weigh down a blog post. JPG is the most common, but other types may be implemented depending on the picture style.

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Alt Text

man using a laptop for image optimization
Image optimization includes file name, description, format, size, alt text, and captions.

Alt text is a natural description of what’s in the image. For example, “Man using a laptop working on image optimization.”

Why is alt text necessary for image optimization?

  • Alt Text provides image descriptions to web users with visual impairments who rely on audible resources to browse the Internet.
  • Web viewers can read the alt text when hovering their mouse over the image. Your image alt text can reinforce your blog’s topic and support the picture caption.
  • Google recognizes the alt text in a search, allowing Google to display that image for related search queries. When you do a Google search, your results include websites with relevant keywords, but also includes images. Your alt text is how Google recognizes your image for search results. When you leave the alt text blank, there’s nothing for Google to understand about your image.

However, you should never stuff keywords unnaturally into alt text. Once upon a time, web publishers abused alt text for keyword stuffing. For example, if the keyword was “airplane”, the alt text could be wrongfully stuffed with terms such as airplane, aircraft, plane, flight, travel. Google now recognizes keyword stuffing as intentional manipulation and will penalize websites who cram keywords into places the don’t belong.

Keyword in an alt attribute on an image tag

(Often referred to as alt tags)

Keywords in the alt attribute of an image tag used to be a best practice. In 2017, it’s best to describe the image for what it actually is and leave out the keyword unless it’s natural to include it.

Example: When you upload this picture to your website, it will have a title. In the attribues below you will see “manpaintswall.jpg is the title of the image. Yet the alt description shows

Man in Red Cap and Blue Overalls is painting the walls white.

The alt text is describing what is happening on the image. The alt attribute is primarily there for browsers used by someone who is unable to visually see the image.

The title attribute shows when you hover over the image. Many people simply repeat the title in the alt text, however that’s generally not a complete option.

The alt attribute is used by screen readers, the browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image.

If painting is your keyword, then using it here is quite natural. However if “buying paint” is your keyword phrase, it might look unnatural to stuff it in there and in doing so could trip Google’s spam filters.

If you are using WordPress, simply hover over the picture and click the pencil to edit the image.  Make the change in the advanced options.

Image Details

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Where alt text is displayed when a mouse hovers over an image, a caption shown below the picture in plain sight.

Because we live in an age of skimming, captions are the next best thing to headings and subheadings. A person aiming for a quick digest of your post will scan between headlines and image captions.

The caption below the picture can also include keywords or keyword phrases to reinforce your post’s SEO.

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Whether you choose to align your pictures left, right, centered, or not at all is a matter of personal preference. However, the way you place your images could influence – positively or negatively – the way viewers perceive your content.

Many web publishers opt to rotate alignment from left to right as a guide the viewer can follow. Others prefer the images smack dab in the middle of their post.

Either way, you should place appropriate images in or around the part of the blog post to which they pertain.

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Summing it Up

Contrary to the previous use of images as eye-candy, pictures in blog posts can tremendously increase SEO value. By using correlating images, proper file names, natural alt text, creative captions, responsive size and format, and thoughtful placement, image optimization can increase your Google juice and positively influence how your page ranks in search.


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