When you’re first learning about implementing SEO on your website you probably have heard that your images are an important part of that. So how do you optimise your images for SEO? It sounds scary and complicated but needn’t be – here’s a guide to doing it easily!
How to optimise your images for SEO – an easy guide!
Here are the 4 main things we can do that will help to improve our image SEO on our websites:
- Name your image file
- Use the Alt-text
- Resize your images
- Compress them further
What does optimising images for SEO actually mean?
So let’s just get this straight about what we’re doing because it’s actually 2 things we’re trying to accomplish here.
First is that we want Google to know what our images are. If we do that then the words we use can help Google to build an idea up about what our article, blog, page or overall site is about. It might also bring in web traffic when people search for images on Google.
Secondly we’re keeping them at an optimal size so that it doesn’t slow our website down or make our website clunky to read. Google loves to serve up sites that give a good experience to the user and this is a big part of that.
(of course there are other search engines available, but you know, Google is the one we’re almost always concerned with because they are the big player!)
Name your image file
Firstly I’d love for you to really get into the habit of naming your images with an appropriate file name before you upload them to your website.
So when you have your image ready to upload, when it’s been resized (see below) and it’s perfect and ready to go make sure that it isn’t called something like img0001.jpg
Here are two images on my laptop – you can see that I had one that has a very generic name and renamed one to be much more like what my blog post is about.
So why do this and why bother?
It’s another way of getting your keywords into your blog post. If you just name your images img001.jpg then it just doesn’t give any context or any clue to a machine like Google as to what your post is about.
Let’s help them along by giving them that clue.
So next question is – what should you name your image?
That’s up to you but adding keywords is a great idea. Above you can see I named it very similar to what my blog post was called and that was because it was going to be my featured image. It wasn’t exactly the same – my blog post was ‘what to do after publishing a blog post’ and the image file was called ‘what to do after writing a blog post’. I will often try and do variations on a keyword rather than stuffing it in too many times.
If they are other photos you’re adding to your post as you go along you might want to describe them or use any other keywords for your post. The small image above that I have put in this blog post is named ‘image names for SEO’ so it’s a keyword related to what my post is about.
Use the Alt text area to describe your image
When you upload your photos to your blog you can also add in some information about the image to the Alt Text area. This has often been used in the past as a great way to add your keywords into your images but it’s not something I do myself anymore.
The Alt Text area is used for image readers to ‘speak’ what an image represents for people who have visual impairments or use screen readers. It can also describe an image if it isn’t loading.
For this reason I think it’s super important to make sure that what we put in this area is actually descriptive about what our image represents. You can see how this looks on WordPress below:
My Alt Text says ‘screenshot of image file names’ – I probably could actually describe it a little better!
So how can we use this for SEO? Is there a way of using it so that it’s still accessible for people who need it and also for Google?
If you’re using images that relate closely to what you’re writing about then it’s likely that some of the words you use to describe your image could also be relevant to your keywords. They might even be your keywords. It’s going to depend on your subject matter and your image but it can be done.
So always choose your images wisely, utilise the Alt Text area the way it should be used and hopefully what you write will complement your blog post anyway and help to provide context for both readers AND Google!
Resize your images
After renaming your images the other big one I always try and remember to do is to resize them.
Resizing your images does two things – it keeps everything with a uniform look to them which is especially important for your featured or header images for your blog posts, but it also should reduce the size of the actual file too.
I often use stock photos or photos I’ve taken myself and the image sizes can be something like 4000 pixels wide or more. If I uploaded them as they were they would take much longer to load when someone comes to my site. People appreciate quick websites so this could really put people off when they arrive and then go back to Google looking for another site to help – something that would show Google that your site isn’t so good!
If I resize down to 900 pixels wide which is what I use for my blog post headers it really shrinks the file size down too and should make the pages much easier and quicker to load.
There are lots of ways to resize photos but here’s a simple way I do it using Canva:
- make a template design with the image size you want. I have one that is 900 x 600 pixels.
- upload your image to Canva that you want to use or use one that they have
- add it to your blank template and stretch it to fit
- then download to your computer ready to upload to your website (after you rename it!)
- jpg is a slightly smaller file size than png so try to use that if you can
Compress your images
As well as making sure your file sizes are as small as you can make them before uploading to your website another thing you can do is to compress them which makes them even smaller. It’s often what Google will suggest if you are looking to speed up your website
Now, I am not super techy and I’ll admit that when reading about this stuff my eyes glaze over but if it helps and it doesn’t make my images look rubbish I’ll give it a go. I’ve used both Photoshop and also some plugins on WordPress.
Sometimes when I’ve used Photoshop in the past to compress my images they come out looking really grainy which isn’t ideal – you have to weigh up the benefits to your site loading fast or it having super clear images. It might depend on your website – certainly for me when I was doing it on my travel blog the images were quite important to look nice.
Plugins that I have used and can recommend is Smush – there’s a free version you can use which should work well for most people. If you have a lot of images you have to do it in stages.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful for you when you’re adding your images to your blog posts – they can really bring a post to life so I always like to include them and if it helps with SEO then all the better!