In our previous blog post, we looked at how you can improve the compression and optimisation of your images. Once you have compressed and speeded up the delivery of the images on your website you then need to focus on good SEO practices.
Being found on Google isn’t just about the pages and written content. The images matter as well.
Firstly, people are sometimes looking visually for content and can find you if you make it possible for your images to be found.
Secondly, and probably most importantly, ranking high on Google is about all content, written and visual, complying with their standards. If your images are not compliant with Google’s best practices then it can affect the ranking on the page they’re on.
Let’s explore the 3 easiest ways you can improve your image SEO.
1. Optimise your images
We did cover image optimisation in great detail in our last blog post, but it is important to mention that there’s no point in trying to improve your site or page SEO if your page is loading slowly due to your images.
While I don’t want to go into great detail again about image optimisation, I will cover the basics of what you need to have ticked off being moving on to image SEO.
Firstly, it is important to make sure that your images are resized to the correct dimensions. There’s no point trying to load a 3500px wide photo in a space that is at the most 150px wide! It is good practice to resize the images, using either Photoshop or Pixlr, before uploading them to the website. Plugins like Shortpixel Adaptive Image can help you resize existing photos or load them in the correct dimensions for each device.
Next, you need to reduce the file size of each image. A 3MB image will bloat your page more than 3 times larger than the entire page should be. It’s good to compress the image file size with TinyPNG before uploading it to your website. However, Shortpixel Image Optimizer will help compress and optimise your photos on your website.
Finally, you need to convert images to WebP format and lazy load them. Shortpixel will automatically convert them to WebP format and retina format for you. Either Shortpixel or WP Rocket can help you lazy load your images so they only load when they are needed by the user.
Taking these steps can ensure your images are lean and speedy and ready to be optimised further for SEO.
2. Use descriptive file names
When Google crawls and indexes a page on your website it is looking for context. It is good practice to call your pages something like ‘mywebsite.com/cake-shop-exeter’. Using hyphens helps tell Google that each part is a word and those words are important. Google, in turn, will know that page is about a cake shop in Exeter.
With images, it is the same. You need to give context in the file name. Don’t upload ‘IMG49284.jpeg’ on a page about a cake shop. Instead, rename the photo ‘red-velvet-cake’. That way Google will know the context of the image. It is an image of a red velvet cake. It knows that when someone searches for ‘Red Velvet cake’ that an image on your website is relevant for that search term.
As you might be able to imagine, a descriptive file name can be very important for an e-commerce website. It is, though, a great idea for any type of website.
As will all aspects of SEO, it is important to not just needlessly stuff keywords into image file names. Google is very good at spotting ‘tricks’ and it can use machine learning to get a good idea of an image anyway, so using irrelevant keywords will only harm your ranking.
It is best to rename images before uploading them to your website. If they are already on your website it might be a case of remembering this for next time!
3. Include descriptive alt text
Alt text, or alt tags, form a crucial part of image SEO. There are two main reasons why they are vitally important to add to your images on your website.
Firstly, and most importantly, they are a key part in accessibility. An alt text description can help a visually impaired user understand your website. When they are using a screen-reader it will read out the alt text description to describe a photo to the user. Every business needs to be accessible, both offline and online.
Also, alt text helps describe your image to Google for its ranking. Much like with the file name it can help explain exactly what your image is showing and ultimately its purpose on the page.
For our red velvet cake, you might include the alt text ‘Light and fluffy Red Velvet cake’, or maybe ‘Easy Red Velvet cake recipe’.
That alt text helps a visually impaired user get an idea of what your page is offering. It also helps Google understand the context of your image and the sorts of search terms it might include your image in.
Adding alt text is very easy with WordPress. Simply go to your Media Library, click on an image and then enter the alt text description in the ‘Alternative Text’ field.
Other useful tips
There are a couple of other short and simple steps you can take. Firstly, adding an image sitemap. You need an XML sitemap to tell Google where your pages are. An image XML sitemap helps give Google details and the URL of your images. SEOPress by default adds an image XML sitemap.
You can also add a caption or a description to an image in WordPress. These are not key ranking factors, by can be used on occasion to give the user more context about an image.
Finally, think about placement and purpose. Don’t include photos for the sake of it, unless they are providing a clear purpose. Photos can slow down a website, so use them sparingly. Also, the file name and alt text of the image should ideally be relevant to the written content around it. Our ‘red-velvet-cake’ with the alt text of ‘Light and fluffy Red Velvet cake’ should be next to written content about fluffy Red Velvet cakes.
When it comes to putting images on your website don’t rush. Take your time to resize, compress and optimise your images. Optimising an image also means considering the SEO impact of that image.
With a clear, relevant title and supporting alt text, it will help Google and your users understand the context of your photos. Following the best practices for all aspects of SEO will help you climb up the rankings quickly!
If you need any more information or are unsure about any of the steps mentioned, please do get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to help you get your perfect website!