Knowledge

How to optimise your website images

6-MINUTE READ - 2nd February 2021

Emily Park
Emily ParkSenior Content Executive

If the images on your website aren’t optimised, you could be missing a trick! There are lots of little tactics you can use to ensure the images published on your website are supporting your SEO efforts, rather than hindering them.

If you would like to learn more about optimising your website to rank higher on the search engine results pages, you might also want to read our guides to taking your content marketing to the next level and the ecommerce mistakes that could be holding back your SEO.

Here are my top five tips for optimising your images.

Give your images a descriptive file name

When you’re looking to optimise your images for SEO purposes, the best place to start is with descriptive file names. You’ll want Google to know exactly what your images show, so the search engine understands what kinds of queries they should be displayed in Google Images for.

Similar to when you’re writing category copy or content marketing, research what kinds of keywords you should include in your image file names. So, for example, if you’re writing a travel guide to Paris and want to include a photo of the Eiffel Tower, don’t just stick with the default name that your original photo or stock image comes with. Instead, create your own that describes exactly what you see in the image. For example, you might want to go with Eiffel-Tower-at-night.jpeg.

If you do this, Google will be more likely to show your image to people who are searching for pictures of the Eiffel Tower in the dark. As a result, you might attract more traffic to your site, which will hopefully lead to more sales. It’s all about getting your content in front of more people who are likely to be interested in your products or services.

Compress your images to reduce their load time

If you’re publishing huge image files on your website, your webpages will take much longer to load. And, as we discussed in our guide to ensuring your site offers a positive user experience, this could lead to your bounce rate increasingly significantly.

People are used to being able to access information in a second or two, so websites that take longer to load don’t tend to be very popular. Google much prefers to highlight sites that people will enjoy using so, if your large image files are having a negative impact on the user experience of your website, your search engine rankings could take a huge hit. This is why it’s so vital that you compress your images before publishing them.

There are lots of tools you can use for this, including Adobe Photoshop, TinyPNG, or the Smush WordPress plugin.

Provide alt text for every image

In a recent blog post about content accessibility, we covered how providing alt text for images can help your website to cater for internet users with certain impairments. But another benefit of including these descriptions is that it can have some SEO benefits.

One of the main purposes of alt text is to provide a description, which will be shown if your actual images can’t load for one reason or another. An internet user might have switched images off in their web browser, for example, or they might have a visual impairment that means they use a screen reader.

Your alt text should be similar to your file names in that it needs to describe exactly what can be seen in your images, and you should aim to get a target keyword or phrase in there if possible. The more relevant information you can provide for the images you use, the better search engines will understand and be able to rank them.

Ensure your images are responsive

It’s important that your website is responsive, which means it should display properly on any device, from a desktop computer to a smartphone. And this means that the images you publish on your website also need to be responsive, so they’ll scale to the right size, regardless of the device they’re being shown on.

A lot of content management systems will make your images responsive as standard, as a huge proportion of people now prefer to browse the internet on their mobile phones. But, if your images aren’t currently scaling on their own, check out Google Developer’s guide to responsive images, which will give you all the information you need and walk you through the process of ensuring your images will display properly on any screen.

Use the right image format

Finally, you need to be using the right image format, depending on what you want to get out of your imagery. Here are the two most common types of image files and what you need to keep in mind about them:

  • PNG: If you need your image to have a transparent background, PNG is the way to go. This will also typically offer you the best-quality image, although the file will often be on the large side.
  • JPEG: When publishing a larger photo or illustration, you’ll want to use a JPEG as this will keep the size of the file down. This format can sometimes lose some of its quality, but your content management system will often allow you to adjust this to find the right balance between file size and quality.

You want your images to load quickly, while still impressing your readers. So, it might take some trial and error, but it’s worth testing different types of image formats out until you find the best solution for you and your website. Always check to ensure your images display properly in different browsers and on an array of different devices, too.

You’ll already be putting plenty of work into optimising your written content, but have you considered how you can ensure your images are also working for you? Take these tips on board and you could be driving more traffic to your website in no time.

Here at Glass Digital, our SEO and content team know a thing or two about optimising images for your website. So, if you need any help with this, we’re here to help. Get in touch with an SEO expert to talk us through your needs today.