Images are one of the most powerful ways to communicate your brand online. They provide your visitors with a glimpse into your world, helping them connect with your brand and feel like they’re part of it. Images help your visitors understand what your page is about, and can be great ways to add depth to your content.
Images can also be used to improve your search engine rankings (SEO), increase your rank on Google and other platforms, and build your brand’s reputation. Yes, that’s right: images are hugely important for SEO! So how do you optimize your images and your content to rank on the search engines? Simply follow these steps.
What Is Image Optimization for SEO?
Image optimization for SEO is the art and science of using images to pass data that Google can use to determine what keywords your content should rank for.
There’s also another part of image optimization that isn’t always talked about: image search. While images can help your content rank, image search can actually bring you traffic directly from Google. By using Google’s image search, people find the picture that they’re looking for. You can optimize your images to make sure that people who are using image search can find them.
But how can you get the best results with image SEO? Simply follow these steps.
How To Optimize Images for SEO
Step 1: Choose The Right Images For Your Content
The images in your content need to make sense in context. This is important because the images in your content are meant to do three things:
- help people understand your message a little better,
- make your content easier to read, and
- help your content rank better on search engines.
Choose images that refer to something said in your content, and place them in the spots that make the most sense for the reader.
Step 2: Optimize Your Images for Website Speed
Although it’s tempting to use lots of images in your content, you still have to contend with another factor: website speed.
Here are a few simple ways to optimize your images for website speed:
- Compress your images. Use a web tool like CompressJPG or a plugin like Yoast SEO or OptimizePress to make your images smaller and quicker to load.
- Use thumbnails where possible, instead of full size images. WordPress creates thumbnails for you, but if you’re not on WordPress, you can simply make the image smaller in your favorite graphics editing software.
- Serve your images through a CDN (content delivery network). A CDN is a collection of cloud servers that you can store your images in. When people access your site, your site can load faster while your images load at the speed of the CDN (which is much faster than your web server!)
Step 3: Use The Right Image File Name, Alt Text & Captions
For a long time, Google was unable to recognize the content of images without the webmaster specifying metadata and alt text. Now, Google has gotten good at recognizing and identifying image content, but it’s still important to include alt text so that Google can have as much context as possible.
Use an image file name that describes the main idea of the image. You can change the file name after uploading it to your web server.
When adding alt text, don’t stuff it with keywords: it won’t help you rank. Instead, add context to the image so that Google understands what’s going on in the image. Want to learn more about why alt text matters so much for image optimization? Check out this article: What Is Alt Text for Images & Why It Is Important for SEO?
Captions are simply the text (usually smaller text) immediately below the image on the page. WordPress allows users to add captions directly to images, which can be inserted alongside the image.
Optional: Use a Plugin To Optimize Your Images
If you use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can get plugins that can make this process so much easier. One such plugin is Yoast SEO, which is one of the best WordPress plugins for SEO. Why? Because they make image optimization and content optimization simple. This plugin can help you do all the steps in this article and more. Learn more about Yoast SEO!