They are as important in achieving a top-10 ranking on Google as keywords and backlinks.
The main reason for this is simple – images enhance your content and make it more valuable for your visitors.
When your visitors find your content valuable, they are more likely to return to your website and spend more time on it. This provides a steady flow of loyal traffic, making your website appear more valuable to Google and improving your rankings.
On top of that, optimizing images for SEO can help increase your traffic even further and tap into new markets.
For example, 62% of millennials and Gen Z consumers want the visual search to be a part of the digital shopping experience.
So by optimizing the images on your website for visual search, you’re making your content, products or services more accessible to that audience.
Best Practices For SEO Image Optimization On Your Website
Before diving into a step-by-step process of optimizing your images for SEO, let us address the three key best practices of SEO image optimization.
Best Practice #1: Avoid Stock Images
Using images on your website is all about making your content more visual and accessible.
Frankly, stock images are hardly capable of that. They are rarely relevant to your content and will most likely appear out of place on your website, which will lead your readers to simply gloss over them.
The best practice here would be to put some effort into making custom images. Graphs, illustrations, screenshots or GIFs are more attention-grabbing and can be tailored to your content.
Best Practice #2: Don’t Forget About The Copyright
If you decide to go with third-party images, make sure to comply with the copyright laws.
Not doing so will not only appear poor taste but can also tangibly damage your business.
In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service was involved in a $3.5 million copyright infringement lawsuit after using a copyrighted image of Lady Liberty in stamp design.
To avoid such situations, make sure to only use third-party images that are public domain or bear an appropriate Creative Commons license.
Best Practice #3: Make Sure The Images Add Value
Before selecting an image for your new blog post, ask yourself:
What value will this image bring to my readers?
Images should not only make your content more visually appealing – they should also add value to it.
You can use images to highlight a stat that would otherwise get lost in the copy or to summarize complicated content in a table.
The general rule of thumb in determining whether an image brings value to your content is simple. Imagine your article or blog post with the image you want to add, and then imagine it without that image.
If the post seems incomplete or some crucial information is missing without the image, that means it’s valuable.
5 Things To Consider When Preparing Images For Your Website
Moving onto more practical, actionable tips – here are five things to consider when preparing SEO images for your website.
#1: Choose High-Quality Images
By “high-quality" we mean both the quality of the content within the image, as well as its visual quality.
For instance, if you’re creating a custom table illustration, the text within that table should be easy to read and understand.
Or if you wish to highlight a stat with an image, make sure that the stat is relevant and authentic.
Above all, make sure that your images look great – which includes ensuring that they are properly sized.
#2: Pick The Right Format
Images come in different file formats, but only a few of them are suitable for SEO optimization.
Each one of them has its own advantages and use cases:
PNG offers higher quality and features such as background transparency. Use it for smaller graphic elements or screenshots.
JPEG can be compressed to a relatively small size without compromising the quality too much. It works best for illustrations and bigger images.
SVG is a vector-based format that you should use for logos and icons. It’s lightweight and can be manipulated without quality loss.
GIF is the standard format for animated images. They can be really striking but at the expense of the large file size.
WebP, JPEG XR and JPEG 2000 are the so-called next-gen image formats. You can compress them to even smaller sizes without sacrificing quality. However, they are not universally accepted and supported yet.
#3: Optimize The File Size
40% of users will leave your website if takes three or more seconds to load. The heavier the page, the longer it takes to load – and images make up to 30.2% of total page weight.
That’s why compressing your images to the lowest size possible is an crucial step in SEO image optimization.
Ideally, all of your SEO images should be less than 100 kB.
For that purpose, JPEG is the most appropriate file format. Depending on the compression tool, you can reduce the size of a JPEG image by as much as 69% without a significant quality drop.
#4: Name Images For SEO
While it may seem like an insignificant detail, the names of your image files also have an impact on overall SEO.
Google analyzes the names of your image files to understand the context of your images and of your entire content.
Naming images for SEO is simple. Make sure that the name of the image file accurately describes the content of the image and don’t forget to include a keyword you’re ranking for.
#5: Create Responsive Images
51.53% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices.
Because of that, responsiveness has become an important trend in website design.
One of the key elements of responsive web design are responsive images.
As such, a key step of SEO image optimization is ensuring that the images on your website display correctly on different devices and resize according to screen size.
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