Images are crucial to ensuring that your content is more accessible, attractive, and engaging to users, but they are equally important in terms of SEO.
First, they give search engines important contextual information. Second, optimized images speed up page loading, which increases user engagement and search engine rankings.
Hence this SEO guide will provide you all the tips and information you need to know to perfectly optimize your images for search engines.
What is image optimization?
Image optimization is the process of creating and delivering high-quality images in the ideal format, size, and resolution to increase user engagement.
Image optimization is the simple process of reducing the size of an image as much as you can without ruining its quality.
It also involves accurately labeling images so search engine crawlers can read them and understand page context.
Now we will start to outline image optimization techniques to minimize both the bandwidth used for loading images on the web and the CPU usage for image display.
We will present them in the form of an annotated HTML example to make it easy for folks to reproduce the results.
Some of these techniques are more established, while others are somewhat novel.
1. Use unique images that are page-relevant
Users are far more likely to react to an image before they begin reading your post. An appealing image that connects with your topic in a novel way can inspire users to share your content, and will certainly leave an impression.
Take the time to source out images that illustrate the subject of your article with humor, drama, or romance to appeal to your audience on an emotional level.
This is especially true if your subject matter talks about a service or product that you offer- don’t use the same old royalty free image that people have seen a thousand times.
2. Choose the right image format
Before you can start adding images to your site, you want to make sure you have chosen the best file type.
While there are many image formats to choose from, the PNG and JPEG are the most common for the web.
JPG / JPEG : JPEG image format takes up very little storage space, and is quick to upload or download. Think of JPEG as the default file format for uploading pictures to the web, unless you need transparency.
GIF : GIFs are “lossless” – meaning that a GIF retains all the data contained in the file, but they are smaller than JPGs, specifically because they only accommodate up to 256 indexed colors.
GIF was intended for small, simple graphic icons, but with one important caveat – they can be animated! There is no audio associated with a GIF, but they are still a powerful way to bring motion to your online channels.
PNG : PNG was invented in 1995 to replace the GIF. If the size of your file is not a pain point, and you are working with a more complex image, PNG is probably the best choice.
PNG-8 is similar to GIF in that it supports 256 indexed colors, as well as transparency. PNG-24, like JPGs, can support up to 16 million colors.
PNGs are most often used for static images, like a JPG would, however they can support animation and transparency.
SVG: SVG is a vector image file format released in 2001, and is more powerful than other file formats suitable for the web. Unlike raster formats seen in JPG, GIF, and PNG, an SVG image remains crisp and clear at any resolution or size.
That’s because an SVG is drawn from mathematically declared shapes and curves, not pixels. SVG’s can be animated, support transparency, and any combinations of colors or gradients.
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SVG is often used for vector art or solid colored graphics, like logos or line art. SVG images are responsive across devices, which means icons and graphs will display correctly no matter how they are viewed.
WebP : WebP images are smaller than their JPEG and PNG counterparts—usually on the magnitude of a 25–35% reduction in file size. This decreases page sizes and improves performance.
WebP is an excellent replacement for JPEG, PNG, and GIF images. In addition, WebP offers both lossless and lossy compression.
Top 5 image formats for the web
3. Resize your images
Image size and file size are not the same thing. Image size refers to the dimensions of an image (e.g., 1024 x 680 pixels). File size is the amount of space needed to store it on the server (e.g., 350 kb).
Images with higher resolution and larger dimensions (often created with a professional camera) slow your page load times considerably. While they work well for print reproduction, you need to scale down the file size without losing too much quality for them to work well on the web.
There are many great tools for resize of images, including:
A word of caution on providing larger images:
Whatever you do, don’t place the largest image on your webpage and simply shrink the dimensions via the source code. This will increase your page load time because of the larger file size associated with the image.
Instead, make it a smaller image and provide the option to view a larger image in a pop-up or on a separate webpage.
4. Compress your images
Image compression is the low hanging fruit of image SEO optimization: you have to grab it. It will boost your page performance and improve your user experience.
You should never be afraid of compressing your images: most of the time the user cannot see the quality lost.