Plain and simple — images on your website can make it more visually appealing.
They break up long pieces of text to keep readers engaged, convince people to buy your products, and even encourage people to subscribe to your email list.
However, you better believe that site visitors don’t care that your beautiful images take longer to load than written text because of their large file sizes.
In fact, site visitors still demand that sites load within 2 seconds or less.
And to top it off, if your loading time tops 3 seconds or more, you can bet 40% of site visitors will abandon your site and never return.
Luckily, mastering the art of creating SEO friendly images is not hard to do.
And when you make your images SEO friendly, you reduce the strain on your server, speed up loading times, lower your bounce rate, and increase pageviews.
Plus, you make your site’s content, and complementing images, more shareable across popular social networks, which exposes your brand to a broader audience.
But perhaps best of all, optimizing your site’s images to be SEO friendly helps improve your search rankings so there’s more organic traffic to read, subscribe, and buy.
With that said, let’s take a look at the 5 best ways to make your images SEO friendly.
1. Use Original, High-Quality Images
When you add images to your website, you want them to stand out. Unfortunately, especially for those just starting out, the temptation to use free stock imagery is high.
Too many website owners use the same stock photos on their website that are available across the web.
If you join in and use the same ones also, you’ll fail to stand out and hurt your overall SEO efforts too.
After all, using the same image as everyone else, no matter how optimized it is, will not give you higher rankings than anyone else using the same stock image.
Instead of using stock photography on your website, opt for original images either photographed or created by you or your team.
And don’t worry; creating unique images for your website doesn’t have to involve hiring a professional graphic designer.
In fact, there are some simple online tools you can use to create images for your website that are truly unique and that Google will love to index.
With PicMonkey, you can edit existing images or create entirely new ones using the extensive editing tools.
Also, you can crop and resize images, sharpen and adjust the exposure, and add beautiful filters.
You can also include text, frames, and overlays on images to make them look more visually appealing.
With Canva, you can design professional looking images, infographics, and social media graphics in minutes using the pre-designed templates.
Not to mention banners, headers, and icons can be created too, giving your site a personal touch.
Piktochart is a free online tool (with premium package options) that let you focus on making stunning infographics for your website.
You can also make presentations, posters, flyers, and reports for your personal or business needs.
Creating an engaging infographic, full of valuable information, is one of the best ways to get people interested in what you have to offer and encourage social sharing across all platforms.
Rather than rely solely on stock imagery that everyone else is using, give your site visitors, customers, and even Google, something to remember by creating your own unique images no one else will have.
2. Choose the Right File Format
You can save images in all sorts of file formats. But for the web, the most commonly used are JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
Knowing which format to use becomes a big deal when it comes to your site’s speed and performance.
To help you decide which file formats to use on your site’s images, take a look at their differences:
JPEG. This is the most popular format used for photographs with lots of detail or color. They can be optimized through compression to be very small in terms of file size (which is great for site speed and SEO), but too much optimization causes a loss in image quality.
PNG. This format maintains the highest quality, even when compressed. However, their file sizes cannot compress as small as JPEGs. They are best used for things like logos, infographics, and screenshots with written text.
GIF. This format isn’t ideal when it comes to the color range, but its file size is relatively small. These are best used when you want to add animations to your website.
When you save images to use on your website, make sure to think about the type of image it is, its overall file size, and how it will affect your site’s speed (and thus SEO) before you choose its format.
3. Include an Alt Tag
Saving your image and changing the filename from IMG_3789.jpg to cute-puppies.jpg is not the only way to optimize your image to appear in more relevant search results.
In fact, search engines love when site owners add an alt text tag to their images too.
This way when they crawl and index your website, they can get more context about your content and its images.
After all, crawlers won’t see what your images look like when they index your content.
All they see is the alt tag you assign to each image.
If you keep the alt tag at IMG_3789.jpg, crawlers won’t index your image to appear in the right search results because they’ll have no idea what the image is.
Instead, if you want your site to index properly, and show up in the right search results, add a good description and your keyword to your alt tag.
If you use WordPress, customizing your image’s alt tag is easy:
Just go to your Media Library, click on the image you want to edit, and add the alt tag description.
Now anytime Google or other search engines crawl your website, they can grab your images and add them to the right search results for people to see.
4. Optimizes Images For Speed
Though the optimization tips above are helpful for increasing the speed of your images, you need to pay special attention to actually optimizing images specifically for speed if you want better search rankings.
After all, site speed is one of the most important SEO ranking factors.
One of the easiest to use online tools for compressing both PNGs and JPEGs is TinyPNG.
It’s free to use and only requires that you drop images into the interface that don’t exceed 5MB.
TinyPNG will then optimize your image. You can then download it immediately or save it to a cloud service like Dropbox.
The other helpful image optimization tool you can find online is Compressor.io.
It supports lossy and lossless compression of images so you can preserve image quality, and works on both PNGs and JPEGs.
And if you’re looking for a great WordPress plugin that automatically optimizes all images uploaded to your Media Library, you should check out WP Smush It.
Lastly, if you use a lot of high-quality images on your website and are worried about them taking up too much bandwidth and slowing your site down, you can always leverage a CDN to boost speed and performance.
CDNs use multiple servers spanning the globe to deliver your site’s static content to site visitors by targeting their geographic location and using the server nearest them to deliver content.
5. Integrate Social Media Share Buttons
If you want to expose your brand to a broader audience, and take advantage of the power that imagery has on social media platforms, integrate social sharing buttons onto your website.
This way site visitors on your website can share their favorite images straight from your webpage to their social media accounts for all of their friends and family to see.
For a cost-effective social sharing solution, be sure to check out Social Media Share Buttons.
This free WordPress plugin lets you add social share icons for RSS feeds, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so much more.
Choose icon styles, create popups encouraging people to subscribe, and even show share counts as added social proof to entice people to share your content far and wide.
Making your site’s images shareable not only expands your reach, but it also engages people for longer on your website, helps boost your SEO, and increases your search rankings.
Whether you run a hobby blog, an eCommerce shop, an agency, or any other type of website, you’ll need to focus on your image’s SEO if you really want to succeed.
There are so many factors that affect how you rank in search engines; some of them you can’t even control.
But image optimization is one of those SEO factors you can control to help your search rankings, the amount of traffic your drive to your site, and the overall user experience.
So, take the time to optimize your site’s images for SEO and watch your following grow. Soon enough your business will be pulling ahead of all the competition, and you’ll be glad you did.