A picture’s worth a thousand words — but how can you get people to visit your site through your pictures? Improve your image SEO and boost your website’s Google rankings — here’s how.
How many times have you Googled something, only to go straight to the “Images” results tab? Images can be a big boost to your website’s traffic when optimised correctly for image SEO. Blogs with images get 94% more traffic, while consumers are 60% more likely to contact or consider a local business with images in the local image search results. On eCommerce sites, 67% of customers said high-quality images were very important to them and even outranked product description and reviews. Whether you’re running an eCommerce site, have a local business or want to get more traffic to your blog posts, images are a key component of internet marketing strategies. Making sure you have high-quality photos is crucial, and so is image SEO optimisation (because you want people to see those lovely pictures!). We’ve put together eight totally Ninja tips to help make sure your photos are optimised for SEO.
1. Relevance is key to image optimisation
Whether you take your own photo or use a photo you’ve found online, only use photos that are related to the topic of the page or post. Consumers will get frustrated and confused if they look at a photo and then start reading a post that seemingly has nothing to do with it. If you’re using your own photo, make sure it’s high-quality, especially if it’s for a product page. If you don’t have your own photos, it’s important to make sure that you have the right to use the images you choose. You can find free-to-use images a few different ways. Don’t just choose an image off the internet, because that could come back to bite you if the photographer has a copyright on it! Here are two ways to source great images without spending a penny: Google image search usage rights — go to Google, type in your required search and then click on “Images”. You’ll see a toolbar with additional options like “size”, “color” and “type”. Click on “usage rights” and select “labeled for reuse”. All images found here are free-to-use on your site. Flickr creative commons — search for images on Flickr and select the filter to show only creative commons licensed photos. You can use these images for free, but you’ll need to credit and link back to the photographer on Flickr.
2. Keyword optimise image file name
It’s crucial to marketing online that customers can find you, so make sure you include your keywords in the image file name. Google will look at the file name, so make sure you create a sensible image name and include your keywords instead of just leaving the image file name as IMG_2849.jpg. Instead name your image descriptively and with your keywords, for example, “Nike-air-max-90.jpg”.
3. Scale the image size — and make your website faster!
Loading time is hugely important to your website’s success. As we’ve mentioned before, improve your site’s speed and you’ll reap the rewards. Not only will it improve user experience (who wants to sit around waiting for a website to load?) and reduce the number of people leaving your site, but it will boost your SEO, as well. Google takes load time into consideration when ranking a site, so it’s a big factor in where you appear in Google rankings. Bigger images take longer to load and reduce a website’s speed, so scale your image to the right size. Even if you display an image at a small size, if your image is still in its original size it will slow down your website because it will have to load the entire image before showing it. You can reduce the image size (in pixels) in Photoshop, if you have it. Alternatively, you can use one of various other photo editing programs for free or very little. Some great free or inexpensive online photo editors include PicMonkey, Pixlr and Canva.
4. Reduce image file size
Don’t just cut down on the image size — make sure you reduce the file size, as well. You want to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible, but big file sizes slow it down and impact your image SEO. Amazon found that they lose $1.6 billion per year in revenue if their site slows down by just 1 second. Load time is highly important to marketing online and selling your products. You don’t want to lose out on any profit, so make sure your site is speedy. Aim for file sizes of 70kb or lower. We generally recommend you save images in a JPG format, as it’s the best photo file format for retaining a high image quality at a low file size. If you’re using Photoshop, you can easily do this by using the “save for web” option. If you don’t have Photoshop, check out Paint.net, Gimp or SumoPaint.
5. Context is king. Place images near the right text
Search engines analyse the text around and near a photo to determine its content, so make sure you put your images near appropriate text. This is also good for the site’s user experience; you don’t want to put people off or confuse them with an out-of-place image!
6. Write good image captions
Captions are read 300% more than your text, so take advantage of this and make sure to write some on-point captions on your photos. While captions don’t improve your SEO directly, having good image captions improves user experience. So, captions can reduce your bounce rate (the number of users who visit your page and immediately leave), thereby improving your image SEO. You don’t need to use a caption on every single photo you post, but do add them where you think it will benefit users.
7. Always include alt text — and put your keywords in it
What’s alt text? It’s the text that appears if someone can’t load your image. For example, if a user’s computer or connection is slow or if they have impaired vision and are using a text-to-speech device, they’ll see alt text. This is hands-down the best way to improve your image SEO and therefore the most important part of marketing online when it comes to images. It’s the primary method Google uses to associate text with your photo, so make sure to always include your target keywords in the alt text. One great piece of advice for writing alt text is to imagine that you’re describing the image to someone with a visual impairment. Write in clear, plain English.
8. Use XML image sitemaps
If you’re a tech-savvy expert in marketing online, you probably know a thing or two about XML sitemaps. These essentially tell Google how your site is organised. Particularly if your website uses gallery or pop-out images, Google may not be able to read the images. So, create an image sitemap. If you’re not sure how to do so, Google webmaster tools has more information, or you can ask your web developer. Whether you’re a newbie to the world of marketing online or a veteran of the marketing world, don’t forget to optimise your image SEO along with the rest of your site. Images will attract traffic to you when used correctly, and implementing a few of the tips we’ve outlined here will have your images working like SEO magnets in no time.