Well-optimized images boost your online visibility and are essential to get your message across in just a single glimpse. The internet is becoming increasingly visual and interactive; images make up an active visual component of a website, ensuring that your content is accessible, attractive, and engaging from a user viewpoint.
We all know the famous adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” which has long been used to explain that multiple and complex ideas can be conveyed in a single but strong image. During the last few years, the web has evolved from a text-based content source toward a more visual medium as a result of the content consumption habits of younger generations. To meet the users’ expectations, we need to produce, accurately label, and dispense high-quality images throughout our websites in the ideal format, size, and resolution.
Since image optimization confers a large number of benefits to both your brand and SEO, you must follow the best practices by providing search engine crawlers with the correct contextual information. If this is correctly done, you will notice significant benefits in your online marketing efforts, such as increased page loading rates, more user engagement, and improved search engine rankings. Search engines, such as Google, know that pictures are relevant and are currently testing the “search by photos” option for specific local verticals on mobile devices.
When it comes to Google My Business listings, images should not be neglected either. Images constitute a great way for people to get to know your business, your team members, and, most importantly, your legal services. The images that your potential clients and referrals see associated with your listing can help build confidence in your business, make an excellent first impression, and encourage them to choose you over a competitor. Make sure that the images you use are helpful to people looking for your services.
To enable super-fast responses, search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo index all your website content by searching through individual pages for keywords, topics, images, relevant information, and more. Unfortunately, even if your website’s images have already been crawled and stored in their databases, they might not be coming up prominently in search results. Thus, you have an excellent opportunity to optimize your images to revamp your online visibility, drive more traffic, and increase user engagement on your website. If they are correctly optimized, images and videos will be considered valuable not only for users but also for search engines and other platforms, such as social networks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the aspects that would make a difference when optimizing your images.
Discovery & Indexing
As mentioned before, for a search engine to determine the subject matter of the content on a site, it will crawl every single page, looking for filenames, image titles, Alt tags, captions, sitemaps, structured data, URL structures, keywords, metadata, and more. At this point, the search engine looks for information and clues to decide which content is relevant and associates the words with specific images or videos. To benefit from these aspects, it is a good practice to start by giving image files a friendly name. Customizing image file names with a short text describing the contents of the image will help search engines understand it and provide SEO value.
In case your image does not load, or in case a browser is not able to correctly render it, you need to add Alt text. When facing this type of issue, the Alt text attribute will describe what is in the image. Needless to say, it is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is also important to write relevant page titles and descriptions, given the fact that Google has stated that core image services such as Google Images automatically generate a title and snippet for the user based on the query.
Finally, beware of copyright infringement. You should keep in mind that Google can remove content due to copyright infringement. Thus, you should optimize and use only images that you own. We highly recommend reading a recent post on our blog about how to protect your website images from online theft.
Image optimization for efficient web performance is all about improving image characteristics, such as file size, image size, file type, and hosting. Such performance is often associated with how long it takes for a user to see, access, or interact with your content. On the other hand, page speed, a confirmed ranking factor on desktop and mobile, has become especially important for search engines, so image optimization can substantially benefit your site. Google has been pushing for faster user experience on mobile (shown by the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative).
While there are many image formats available, PNG and JPEG are the most accepted and widely used on the web. Given the fact that images make up a considerable amount of the total webpage’s weight, it is important to compress them before uploading them to the site. Compressing images significantly improves website speed. Some of the best free image compression tools are JPEG Optimizer, Kraken, Compressor.io, TinyPNG, and Imagify. Moreover, keep in mind that it is vital to define image dimensions for your AMP version to guarantee the best user experience possible on all types of devices. If you make your images mobile-friendly by creating responsive images, most mobile users will not face any issues with images when scaling their size on desktops or any mobile devices.
Last but not least, implement “lazy loading,” a technique that defers the loading of non-critical resources. It means that images and videos will only be loaded when needed, improving initial page payload and load time.
Google strives to provide the most useful and relevant search results. Therefore, user engagement can tell search engines whether the search results are suitable for a specific query or not. To successfully come up in the search engine results pages, an image must be appealing so that users want to click on it. Otherwise, your images may suffer a drop in the search results because users are finding more compelling images elsewhere. Creating unique images will make your site stand out from sites that are filled with generic stock photos. Make sure that your images are original, high-quality, and relevant, given the fact that Google uses increasingly intelligent algorithms that can recognize objects within an image.
|TIP: If you are curious about knowing how much traffic Google Images is driving to your website, you can use Google Analytics. After an update in mid-2018, Google Analytics can now display Google Images data as a new source in the ‘Acquisition’ reports. Google Analytics can track when someone clicks on an image in Google image search results and then decides to click on the link to your website.|
Visual search is on the rise, and it is expanding across various online platforms. In light of the advancements in visual search technology, image optimization has become mandatory for anyone out there hoping to increase traffic and conversions. Optimizing your images is not limited to search engines. It also has an impact on your potential clients, especially those using mobile devices. Images can make the difference between retaining a prospective client or not.
With image optimization, your images could bring more organic traffic to your website, as long as you follow the visual marketing strategies discussed in this blog post. In terms of SEO, it is all about great content, and the same principle applies to images. You should aim to create high-quality and original images to grab people’s attention and entice them into clicking on them as soon as they show up on the search results page. A last piece of advice: also optimize the videos on your website. Sites containing optimized visual content tend to generate more views and get more traffic from other sources or channels, such as YouTube.
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