How Image Optimization Can Improve Your Search Engine Visibility
Last Updated on March 23, 2021 An often overlooked SEO factor for podcasters is that images in posts contribute to SEO rankings. Of course the images should be interesting and relevant in the first place, but technically the way images contribute to your SEO ranking has to do with “ALT” tags, as well as with their role in determining your site loading speed.
1.) Use ALT Text Tags For SEO Image Optimization
What are ALT text tags?
The official definition of ALT text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell Web site viewers the nature or contents of an image. The ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. This is useful when an image link is not available because of a broken or changed URL or some other issue.
Why are they important for SEO?
Also, ALT tags serve as accessibility properties that provide the visually disabled, (who use screen reader software to read page content out loud), with information about each image. This has the additional side effect that search engines pick up these ALT tags as well and index your article based on the image ALT tag language used. So for SEO Image Optimization, if you can use your main article key-phrase in the ALT tag, it will add to your overall SEO post optimization and keyword density in a positive way.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do honor the intent of creating accessible sites that provide screen readers and search engines with context and recognition of what is going on in the image
- Do not stuff indiscriminately keywords into the ALT tags in a way that makes screen readers annoying, inaccurate or not useful
- Do use descriptions that describe the image in a meaningful way, while utilizing your key-phrase
To include an “ALT” tag, it is added to each image in the following ways:
- In WordPress, you don’t need to know HTML to do this, you can add the ALT tag in the media library, or when you are adding the image to the post
- If you want to know what this looks like in HTML, you would simply add alt=“Description of the image” to your image tag
- For example, if you wanted to add an image with a podcasting microphone, that might look like so:
<img src=“microphone.jpg” alt=“Podcasting Microphone”/>
WordPress tip on using the same image several times:
Keep in mind that if you’ve already used an image and created an ALT Text tag for a previous posts, changing that image’s ALT text tag might negatively affect the SEO ranking of previous posts. A typical example of this are featured images in posts. If you have already used an image on a post once before, it is likely to already have an ALT tag assigned optimized for a previous SEO keyword.
- Therefore if you would like to use it again it is better to upload a new version of the image, even if it already exists in your media library.
2.) Understand Your Site Load Speed
Site load speed has been a search rank factor for a long time, and the speed that your page loads is directly influenced by the size of the images present on your pages. WordPress and most themes process images into several sizes when you first upload them, so that thumbnails and several small to large size variations can be used. But WordPress compression algorithms are often not ideal.
Tools to help you understand your site load speed
We have tried to list some great SEO tools throughout this series, and image processing tools are often overlooked. We’ll get to these in a minute, but first of all it helps to you know if images on your site contribute to slow loading speeds, and by how much. Here are 2 tools that help you measure the loading speed of your site, and allow you to compare before and after optimization.
- GTmetrix: A free service that gives you insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it
- Yslow: Yahoo!’s Exceptional Performance team has identified 34 rules that affect web page performance. YSlow’s web page analysis tests your site against 34 rules that affect web page performance, and is based on the 23 of these 34 rules that are testable.
3.) Improve Your Site Speed By Optimizing Your Images
Once you decide you’d like to optimize your site images in order to improve load times, here are some tools that help you do it.
- If you have an existing site with lots of images, a utility to help optimize these is great, but in general terms I would also recommend to pre-process and size images for use on your web site when you first upload these or create them in Photoshop or your favorite graphics program.
- Uploading 12,000px wide images straight from your camera is lazy, and there is no use for these on your site without first optimizing them, and utilities like Snap-Converter mentioned below make this process very easy.
So in general terms I recommend optimizing images before they ever make it to your site.
That said, here are some great tools:
- WP Smush is the popular replacement of the Smush-It image optimization plugin based on a service once provided by Yahoo, but now discontinued
- WP Smush Pro is a premium image optimization tool that uses advanced algorithms to compress your images while maintaining their quality and dramatically improving your website’s page speed.
- It will go through your entire media library and replace your on-line images with optimized versions, while maintaining quality. This can significantly speed up your site. Run GTmetrix before and after, and you will be rewarded with a vastly improved site load speed, and Google rank.
- It also processes every new image you upload, so you can be assured that all of your site images are compressed optimally.
- Snap Converter (for Mac) is a utility to help you resize as well as convert images from PNG to JPG
- Convert images as well as Mac and Windows icon files. Supports standard bitmap types as well as digital Camera RAW types, Photoshop documents, and more. View the complete list of supported file types.
- Resize Sense is a utility that helps crop and resize images to a variety of optimized sizes.
- Very useful for when you need to convert a range of differently sized images into the same size and aspect ratio.
- Helps to eliminate the hours of tedious work needed to resize, crop, straighten, rotate, flip, edit metadata, and rename many images one at a time.