Humans are highly visual creatures. We rely on visual cues to learn, communicate, and understand the world around us. Our brains process images faster than words and studies have shown that we are able to remember more than 2,000 pictures with 90% accuracy.
It’s no secret that Google is trying to offer the best experience to the people using the search engine. And, since humans heavily rely on visual cues to process information, then Google wants to ensure that users will only get the best, most relevant images.
When it comes to business owners, on the other hand, optimising images tend to take a lower place on the SEO to-do list.
So, in this article, we want to take a closer look at what image SEO means, why it’s important, and how to do it right.
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What Is Image SEO and Why Is It Important?
The search engines need help to understand the content on your page. That’s why you use keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, and H1 titles – to tell crawlers what your page is about.
The same is true about your images.
So, image for SEO refers to the tactics you are using to make it easier for the search engines to “read” your images and rank them high in Google Images.
Why does it matter?
Well, about 36% of consumers have conducted a visual search. Moreover, mobile searches for “image search” have grown by 60% since 2016.
Sox your target audience is probably looking for quality images online and is more likely to shop from you if you have evocative product images (we’ll talk about that later.)
But, the truth is that optimising images can also have a significant impact on your overall SEO strategy.
Images Can Affect Site Load Speed
Page speed is an important ranking factor. A web page that takes forever to load (and, in internet time, forever usually means more than three seconds,) can affect the user experience and have a higher bounce rate. If your images are too big, then they can affect your site’s loading time, and consequently, your ranking.
Images Can Help Improve User Experience
Your website’s performance and the experience users have while browsing it can have a great impact on your ranking. If your site is too slow because your image files are too big, then visitors are likely to look for the back button. In fact, one research showed that pages that take more than 2.4 seconds to load get a 24% bounce rate.
But, it’s not just page speed that can affect user experience. If your images are blurry, the wrong size (either too small or too big,) or don’t add any value to your content, then your visitors are less likely to convert.
Images Influence Purchasing Decisions
According to one survey, 93% of online consumers claim that visual content is a deciding factor when shopping online. 78% of them say that they want a high-quality image that brings life to the product.
It should come as no surprise that better images can translate into more sales. In this day and age, when 75% of people are shopping at least once a month online, the businesses that use high-quality product images on their websites will get an advantage over their competition.
Images Can Drive Traffic
As mentioned above, more than 36% of consumers have conducted a visual search.
Think about it this way. Let’s imagine that your neighbour is warning you that he notices some pine processionary caterpillars and that you should be careful when walking your dog as they can be dangerous to pets and children.
What’s the first thing you do?
You reach for your phone and look for images on Google to know what to keep an eye on. You click on one image, and additional photos are displayed that you can click. If your images are properly optimised, then there’s a considerable amount of traffic that could come from Google Images.
How to Optimise Images for SEO
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
After finishing your blog post, you are uploading your image from a stock photos website and hit Publish.
Is that image SEO?
Not at all!
Simply adding images to your website won’t do much to help with SEO. In fact, it can do more harm than good as you’ve now added a giant image file that will slow down your site and that the search engines can’t read.
So, how do you optimise your images for SEO?
Here are some tips to follow:
Use the Right Image Format
To make things clear: there isn’t a right or wrong image format. It all depends on how you want to use the image. For example, JPEG works well for large images while you can use PNG if you want to maintain background transparency in your image. The WebP format is great if you want high-quality images but a smaller size, while SVGs are best used for logos and icons.
Choose the Right Image File Name
If you are writing an article about the history of the Sydney Opera House, then the image file shouldn’t be something like DSC4265.jpg but something more appropriate and relevant like “Sydney-opera-house-sunset.jpg.” Help Google understand what the image is about.
Optimise Your Images
Google can’t really tell what’s in an image (although it’s getting better at it,) and it needs a bit of help understanding it.
Write descriptive alt tags (or alt text) and captions. Not only that the alt attribute will help the search engines understand the subject matter of the image, but it’s also useful to the users who are using a screen-reader due to visual impairment. Make sure that the alt-text is relevant and uses only relevant keywords. Avoid stuffing the alt tags with keywords as this can create a poor user experience.
Don’t forget about the image title text either. A short, catchy title text that will complement the description you wrote for the alt text should be more than enough.
Compress Your Images
One report from HTTP Archive found that images make up to 21% of a webpage’s weight. Compressing your images is an excellent way to take some of this load off and boost your page speed. You can use a tool like WP Smush to reduce the size of your images without compromising on the quality.
If you are not convinced of how images affect your site, go to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check your site’s performance.
Add Structured Data
Adding structured data to your pages won’t necessarily boost your rankings, but it can help you get displayed as rich results, such as carousel, images, and other non-text elements.
Keep in mind that if you are adding images as structured data, you need to ensure that the photo actually belongs to the instance of that type. You should also add alt attributes to the image to ensure it can be crawled and indexed by the search engines.
Do You Need Help With SEO
When it comes to search engine optimisation, most people focus on their content, site architecture, site performance, and user experience. While all these are essential elements of SEO, your images play a crucial role too. By not optimising your images, you are slowing down your site and missing out on traffic and conversions. Images that are not optimised can also affect the user experience and lower your ranking.
We know that SEO is extremely complex and it can be easy to miss one of its many elements. If you want someone who will design and implement a thorough SEO strategy, then we at Australian Internet Advertising are the right team.
We are one of the leading and fastest-growing digital marketing companies in Australia and have helped countless businesses get to the top of the search engine results, generate more leads, and increase their sales.
If you are not sure our services are right for you, we offer a free 30-minutes consultation that is worth $500. We can discuss your SEO goals and give you a quick rundown of how we can help your business goals.
Contact us now.