Optimize Your Images for SEO Success!

Alicia Kea - Written by: Alicia Kea

You may not realize this, and this is why I’m sharing, but images can generate a TON of traffic from image-based search engines (such as Google Images, for example). Image optimization is very similar to  video SEO.

(Here’s a scenario to think about. I optimized a professional tattoo and body modification studio’s website. Can you imagine the increase in targeted website visits for keyphrases like “Rose Tattoos” and “Shoulder Tattoos” once I optimized their images? It was exponential. Now, think of the multiple portfolio images for multiple artists. Was it worth my time? You better believe it!)

Luckily, optimizing your images is easier than you think… once you know what to do. Avenue 25 uses the following best practices to optimize images on client sites when managing their online marketing and SEO. Of course there are countless other things that can be done to optimize images, but we consider these to be essential.

The Ultimate, Basic Best Practice List:

#1: Image File Names

Even if you do nothing else with your images — do this! Name your images (yes, each of them). Use lower case, use dashes (not underscores), be descriptive while being concise, and name each image uniquely.

Use acceptable keyword-rich names, but never keyword “stuff” file names, ALT tags or any portion of your site. Keyword stuffing is always a bad practice and this makes Google unhappy, and we do not want to make “The Google” unhappy!

Let’s imagine an image of a [beautiful] Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

A digital camera automates a generic name similar to: "DCMIMAGE023.jpg"

So, think for a moment here about how your customers search for products. What names do you think they’ll use?

  • Bugatti Veyron
  • Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
  • Black Bugatti Veyron Photos
  • Test Drive a Bugatti Veyron

Depending on your customers, image names might work best as -

  • black-bugatti-veryon-super-sport.jpg, or
  • black-bugatti-veryon.jpg

Don’t get overwhelmed here. Image names do not need to drill down into the minutia. The rest of the on-page content can (and should) address details on style, if it’s available for a test drive, etc.

#2: Alt Text

ALT tags are important for W3C compliance.

“The generic rule for the content of the  alt  attribute is: use text that fulfills the same function as the image.”

Some people with visual impairments use screen readers to assist in their web use, and ALT tags help with ADA compliance. ALT tags are also read by search engine spiders that cannot actually SEE your image, so ALT tags inherently add important SEO value to your site. In fact, using ALT tags is probably the best (but not the only) way for e-commerce products to show up in Google’s image and web search.  

Bonus points: Make your ALT text relevant to the PAGE content the image is on.

#3: Image File Size

Make sure you upload all images in the actual file size necessary and nothing larger. Whatever you do,  don't just upload the largest image you have and shrink the dimensions in the source code. Without going into details, just know that doing this significantly increases your page load time.  Site load time is an important factor in Search Engine Optimization just as it is for User Experience. Nobody wants to hang around while your images are thinking about loading.

#4: Captions

As of now, there’s no direct relation between image captions and image search engine ranking (that I’ve heard of). But let’s talk about it anyway, because when someone does come to your page by way of an image, there are certain expectations. Simply stated, you need to deliver the goods.

Next to your headline (aka “H1” tag),  image captions are important  because they are one of the most well-read pieces of content on your entire site. Although they say that on the web, content is King, everyone skims content, at least until they find what they’re looking for.  But people will read captions. Images = shiny = attention-getting = work well for the internet attention span. Captions tell the story in 10 words or less.

Finally, if you have decorative images or backgrounds — anything non-product-related — you’ll want to make sure files sizes are low, image names are simple and you’re also keeping the ALT tags in the form of “Empty”.    

Gold Star Bonus Point Opportunity  - use this same naming convention for your PDFs, word docs and other web documents!

A Final Note:  

With all of these details it may be hard to remember that the user experience should always come first. Your website has to provide them with the content they’re looking for in an easy, intuitive way. After all, inviting people to your party is only half of the challenge. You better show them a good time when they get there or they’ll walk right back out the door (This will effect what’s known as the website's “Bounce Rate”).

Let us know if you’d like us to help with your web design, user experience, SEO or online marketing efforts. It’s what we do.