If you are thinking about whether to add images to one of those recent blog posts you’ve got waiting in your drafts folder, the answer to your thoughts is “Yes, add it!”  Images not only make an article look better and help describe your content, but they also contribute so much to your on-page SEO.

In this guide, I would like to show you just how to fully optimize your images to ensure page load times are reduced and they rank on the main search engines.

So, here’s how you optimize your images:

  • Write plain language but descriptive image names
  • Revise your alt attributes
  • Select image positions
  • Compress image as small as possible without reducing the quality
  • Select the correct file type
  • Check thumbnail file sizes
  • Insert sitemaps for your images
  • Check your decorative images
  • Beware of Content Delivery Networks (CDN)
  • Keep images relevant
  1.  Write plain language but descriptive image names

With image and SEO, you need to ensure your images are named with relevant keywords. By creating relevant keyword file names you will help search engines crawl your webpage content AND image names. Think about what keywords searchers would put into the web to find your content. For example, if you are using an image of an iPhone with 5G, users may use search terms such as:

  • 2018 5G iPhone
  • 5G iPhone 2018

Therefore it would make sense to remove the standard camera image name of DC10008 to “2018-5g-iPhone.jpg”

If you want to get even more technical with your data you can take a look at the search keyword techniques your customers like to input. Think about the most popular process they use with image names and descriptions and try to apply the same process to your image file names.

If that’s all a bit too much for you then just ensure you use descriptive, relevant keywords when it comes to renaming your image files.

On the Q&A section over at Moz, someone asks about the importance of naming images for SEO Purposes. The responses on there will help you to understand just how it can improve your on-page SEO and help boost your page rankings.

  1. Revise your alt/title attributes

When you hover your cursor over an image you should be able to see the ‘title’ attribute text. This gives you an opportunity to further explain to your users what your image is showing. ‘Alt’ attributes are used by screen readers and also if the image cannot be displayed properly. The alt attribute is the method Google uses to know what the image is showing in terms of your content. Just like your image file names, you should ensure relevant keywords are used for both of these attributes –  but do not keyword stuff them!


File name: “2018-5g-iPhone.jpg

Alt attribute=”2018 5G iPhone

Title attribute=”2018 5G iPhone” or “close up of 2018 5G iPhone” or “man holding a brand new 2018 5G iPhone” – add more description if it will benefit the user.

  1. Select image positions

When adding images or a product, of course, you are going to display multiple images showing different angles of the item. If you were selling a car, you would show different shots of the interior, exterior, wheels, dashboard etc…

With larger images be sure not to make the dimensions smaller via source code as this will slow down the page load time due to the browser loading the large image, and then having to re-size it before it can display. You will need to make a smaller version of the image and then provide an option to see the image larger in a separate pop up window.

  1. Compress images as small as possible without reducing the quality

According to BBC, over 50% of web visitors will not wait any longer than three seconds for a website to load! If you want that potential customer to stay with you on your site then you need to make sure your images do not slow down the page load time. Not only this, but Google takes into consideration how long a page takes to load as part of their ranking algorithm.

So, now we’ve established how important it is to reduce image size here’s how to do it:

Adobe Photoshop: Use the command “Save for Web” so you can save it in the smallest file size. If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop, you use a free online tool for image editing. In fact, Adobe even has a free editing app for your smartphone called Photoshop Express. There are also other apps and tools out there such as:

For e-commerce images, you should always keep images below 70kb and in either file type: JPEG, GIF and PNG.

  1. Select the correct file type

As stated above, images should be saved in one of the three types: JPEG, GIF or PNG.

JPEG (or .jpg) images – These are probably the most standard and common image types across the web. You can compress their size substantially which allows them to be a smaller file size with decent quality.

GIF (.gif) images – These type of images also support animation and are a little lower in quality than JPEG files. However, these types are best for icons and graphic images.  

PNG images – These images are now becoming even more popular than GIFs as they support more colours and do not lessen in quality when the image is saved over and over again. They are primarily used because they support transparency. If there is no transparency needed then typically you would use .jpg rather than .png since the file size will be smaller.

  1. Optimize thumbnails

It’s important to ensure thumbnail file sizes are made as small as they possibly can, even if quality has to take a back seat a little. Your thumbnails will greatly affect your page load time. Ensure your alt attributes are original for each thumbnail, you would hate for a thumbnail to be indexed over the larger image.

  1. Insert sitemaps for your images

Using Google sitemaps will provide Google with more information about your images, which is a great path to take with image search engine optimisation. Google Webmaster Tools have instructions on how to correctly format your sitemap.

  1. Check your decorative images

Decorative images are images such as backgrounds, borders, buttons and other non-related graphics to your product. These are detrimental to your page load times so you will need to revise the size of these files and ensure they are all reduced in size.

  1. Beware of Content Delivery Networks

Although CDNs massively help improving page load time and speed, when misconfigured it can negatively affect your SEO. When purchasing and configuring your CDN one factor to have in consideration is the server location. If the target audience is in the UK, having CDN servers in North America could increase the page loading time causing a bad user experience.

10. Keep Images Relevant

So in all of the points above, we have discussed how to reduce file size, and how to get search engines to index your images, but we have not yet talked about image relevance.

It’s so important to ensure the images on your page reflect your content. For example, if you are an IT company, you are probably not going to fill your page full of images of children’s toys. Keep it relevant, and Google will reward you for it when it comes to rankings.

Final thoughts

By following these top 10 tips, your images will have the highest possible chance to rank higher on SERP’s. Google has recently refreshed its content for its image search publishing guidelines and so it’s more important now than ever to follow these top tips.

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