What is Image SEO?
Probably the best place to start! Image SEO is all about improving your website’s images for two main reasons:
1. To rank higher on Google Image Search.
2. To improve the overall visibility and optimisation of your website.
And to do this, that means there are a number of tasks that need to be done.
So let’s dive straight in to the Top 6 Image SEO optimisation tips (I was going to do 5, but the 6th was too important to ignore):
1. Alt Text
Alt text is one of the most important parts of the process, and as such requires a bit more explanation.
What is Alt Text?
You may often hear people talking about alt text, or alt tags, but what are they?
Alt stands for alternative, so alt text is simply a text alternative for an image, which search engines or screen readers use.
How do you optimise your Alt Text?
Writing your alt text doesn’t need to be difficult, just don’t overthink it.
There are basically three rules to bear in mind:
- Be Specific : The more specific you can be when describing an image, the better! This will help it rank on Google Image Search and also gives context to your page’s content.
- Be Relevant : As I mentioned above, try and write alt text that describes images in a way that relates to the topic of the page that it is on.
- Be Unique : Always be sure to write unique alt text that describes the specific contents of the image, rather than using the same keyword on each image in the hope of being found.
2. Name your Images Properly
This is one the main issues I come across when reviewing websites or running audits for prospective clients. Google have even published a guide on image best practices, and one of the areas they discuss are using descriptive image names.
It will require a bit of planning on yours, or your web designers part, but let’s say you have had a photo shoot done, and your images are named like this “IMG00815.JPG”, “IMG00816.JPG”, etc. What you don’t want to do is upload every image from your photoshoot (for starters this will take up space and slow your site down), but once the file has been uploaded it is harder to rename them to something specific, relevant, and unique.
Before you do anything, you need to determine which image you wish to use where, and then rename it accordingly. For eg, on the About page an image of you will want to be renamed to your “firstname lastname”.
3. Resize Images to the Display Dimensions
Whilst you can upload your images of any size and WordPress will scale it to fit within a container you have added, this does take additional processing and can affect your PageSpeed, not to mention the file size will be larger than needed.
There are a few ways of doing this using tools like Photoshop or Canva, but if you are using WordPress, you can use a plugin such as Resize Image After Upload to help you to do this too.
4. Reduce Image File Sizes
Large image files are one of the main causes of slow web pages, and improvements made can have a big impact on how fast your site loads, not to mention your PageSpeed score.
Whilst following step 2 above will inevitably reduce the size of your files, there are various online image compression sites you could use, or if you are using WordPress, try plugins such as Smush or Imagify.
5. Create an Image Sitemap
The best way for Google to discover all of the images on your website is by having these included in your sitemap.
If you are unsure about these, then read my earlier article on Sitemaps which explains this in more detail, but if you are using WordPress, there are SEO plugins such as Yoast or Rank math which will automatically include your images for you.
6. Leverage Caching
So I know 6 is an odd number to choose, but I couldn’t leave this one out!
Browser caching is when files are stored by a visitor’s browser, meaning that the website will load faster when they next visit the page. When you visit a page, the images are downloaded and then displayed in the browser.
Without browser caching, next time this user visits the page, these will all need to be downloaded again. Browser caching is noticeably impactful on sites where users frequently revisit the same pages.
As an alternative, you can activate lazy load, which is where the images load as they are needed. Therefore the entire page doesn’t load up front meaning it will load faster, and will load as you scroll down. Smush and Imagify both have the option to do this.
Personally I use a premium plugin called WP Rocket (alongside either Smush or Imagify) as this, among other features, enables you to pre-load the cache.
It all helps speed up your website which has got to be a good thing right?
If you are unsure how fast or slow your website loads, then I can highly recommend GTmetrix.
Just be sure to test from a local site as it defaults to Vancouver. To do this, you will need to create a FREE account, but in doing so it will also remember your previous checks, so you start to build a comparison.
It will not only show you the overall speed, but also what is causing any issues.
As always, if you have questions, please do get in touch or simply just let me know how you got on with this!