We all want to rank on the first page of Google. And preferably straight at the top, right? Did you know your Google score also depends on the images you're using on your website?
Therefore, don't just place any image on your website. Ensure all your images are optimized for your visitors, your website, and search engine crawlers like Google. Why? Optimized images make your website faster. This benefits your SEO, which means you get a bigger inflow of users, and it improves your user experience. The result? More and better conversions. You probably understand why this is so important.
But how to make sure your images are findable? How to ensure they don't slow down your website? And which factors do you have to take into account? We give six essential tips and optimizations to get the most out of your images. Let's get that number one ranking in the search results!
TIP 1: Pick the right format
Before you can add images to your website, you want to make sure they have the correct size. In 95% of the cases, a JPEG format is the right choice.
- JPEG: the most common and best format for your website. Find a good balance between quality and size.
- PNG: images of better quality, but usually rather large files. Use this format only for what is strictly necessary, for visuals with a transparent background, for example.
- GIF: raster images in digital form. This format is very compressed and, hence, very small. As a result, the image consists of only 256 colors. It's best known for its ability to animate images.
PNG images are a perfect option for social media designs because they have no loss of quality. For a website, it's better to use compressed JPG files to keep your website from getting too heavy.
What's that, a compressed image? Check tip number two!
TIP 2: Compress your images
According to Google statistics, images make up an average of 21% of the total weight of a webpage. In practice, we find that this even increases up to 50% when no or too little attention is paid to optimizations. As already briefly mentioned in the first tip, you're looking for the sweet spot between your images' quality and file size. That way, your website won't become too heavy. I recommend compressing your images before uploading them to your website. You can easily do this in Photoshop or via a tool like Squoosh. With this tool, you can upload your images and download them again in a compressed version. You can use this new and smaller version on your website.
Not sure how your images affect your current website and page speed? Try Google PageSpeed Insights-tool, and see for yourself!
TIP 3: Choose unique images
Images literally attract attention on your website, even better than text. This has been proven several times in user surveys on the web. So make sure to use unique images and really draw the attention of your visitors.
As tempting as it may be, stock photos are not always the best choice. The typical stock photos often make your website look impersonal. It creates a distance between your visitor and your website. Something you definitely want to avoid. Too many websites are filled with the same emotionless photos. Think of a corporate website, a consulting firm, or a company that prides itself on customer service. They all use the typical stock photo of a smiling businessman or woman. You know what we're talking about, right?
In conclusion, the more authentic pictures you have on your website, the more pleasant the experience for your customers. The longer they stay, the higher the possibility of conversion and the greater the chance of ranking in relevant searches.
TIP 4: Watch out for copyright
Make sure there's no copyright conflict with the images you use on your website, regardless of using stock photos or your own. If platforms like Shutterstock, Getty, DepositFiles, or the photographer you planned a photoshoot with didn't give you a license to use their images, you risk a costly lawsuit. We know it's impossible to hire a photographer for every picture on a new blog post or landing page. So using a stock photo once in a while is fine. However, try to keep it to a minimum.
For these (emergency) cases, we drafted a top 8 with the best websites for original and royalty-free stock photos:
TIP 5: Customize the filename of your image
When it comes to SEO, creating a descriptive file name with the right keywords is crucial. In the file name of your image, write something that's shown in that image. After all, it's this text that gives Google and other search engine crawlers useful information about the image's subject. This way, they'll correctly include the image in their search engines.
Most file names usually look like this: "IMG_78E2Y78.jpg". That's unfortunate. With this name, search engines have no idea what's shown in the picture. How should it be then? A good example of an optimized file name is: "teamphoto-dropsolid-teambuilding.jpg".
I can hear you thinking: "do I really need to rename all of our images?". Short answer: yes. It requires some work, depending on the size of your media library. But it's precisely these SEO details that many find too time-consuming and therefore skip. It is these details that give you a headstart over your competitors.
TIP 6: Write SEO-friendly Alt-tags
Alt tags are a text alternative for images when a browser cannot display them correctly. Like the title, the alt attribute describes the content of an image file.
Today, these alt tags are not the deciding factor for your SEO value. Still, they are beneficial from a usability standpoint. An important factor that Google also takes into account. If your image does not load for any reason, users will still get an idea of what it should contain, thanks to your alt tag.
It's handy for visitors who use speech software - due to higher age or a visual impairment, for example. The speech software bases itself primarily on your alt description and thus tells the visitor what's on the website. Especially for governments and membership organizations, this is an important aspect to consider in the often mandatory inclusive website design.
So, first of all, write relevant alt descriptions that effectively describe what's in the image. Be careful! Also, don't stuff them with keywords in the hope of ranking better. That's "keyword stuffing" and against Google's rules.
With these six practical and accessible tips, you can make sure you only use images on your website that are optimized for your visitor, your website, and the search engines.
Before you get started, here are our most important insights and action items:
- Choose the right format. Resize for a faster loading speed of your pages.
- Pick photographs with an authentic look and relevant content. No boring and distant stock photos.
- Check if you have the proper permissions to use the image.
- Provide appropriate SEO elements on the page (metadata, alt tags, etc.) and the image.
- Take the trouble to give a descriptive filename and alt tag to your images. A name that also describes what is in the image.
- Feel free to add important keywords without overdoing it.
Capiche? And now: optimize and upload those images!
I've told you a lot about SEO-optimized images above. Still have questions? Not quite sure you did everything correctly? Or need an extra pair of hands to get your SEO all up to speed? I'm happy to help!