According to Moz, image search traffic accounts for an average of 27% of a website’s total traffic. This percentage should of course be seen in the context of the size of websites and the type of content they offer, but it does show that images play a significant role in Internet users’ search intentions. In this article, we will explore how to optimize your images to help give your SEO a boost.
The rise of images in search habits
In 2018, Google made a minor change to its image search engine but it had a big impact on website owners. The company decided to change its “view image” button for a “visit” button that redirects the user straight to the site that uploaded the image.
This change notably gave users more context in their image searches and access to content authors so they could continue browsing their site if they wanted. Some people use Google Images just to find illustrations, but an increasing number of Internet users use the search engine to get “visual” information before visiting the site in question.
Consider, for example, someone who is looking up a recipe for Eggs Benedict. Simply by typing “eggs benedict” or “eggs benedict recipe” on Google images, you can see hundreds of recipe images, each one more delicious than the next:
When you click on the image and then on the “visit” button, you can directly access the recipe posted online by the author of the image. In this example, the image search provides an enriching experience for the user because he can quickly choose the photo that makes him want to visit the site most and then click through.
If we repeat the same test with the normal search engine, the experience is different:
On the regular search, we get a wealth of information, but most of it is text-based. Images are secondary and do not provide a quick idea of the final result of the recipe, unlike Google image search, which only displays images in a format that gives you a quick impression of the result.
Before moving on to the second half of this article, let’s look at another example that will encourage you to optimize your images as part of your SEO strategy. Out of curiosity, we searched for “agence web” on Google Images to see what results would be displayed. What a nice surprise it was to see the wonderful free advertising that Google gives us!
In the first row, you can see the lovely logo of our web agency My Little Big Web which appears as a link to our website. For the skeptics, we would like to point out that this search was performed from Montreal but in private navigation and without activating geolocation 😊
The purpose of this example is to explain that you should never miss an opportunity to stand out to Google and Internet users.
Improve SEO by naming and describing your images
How does Google tell the difference between a dog playing with a ball and a child eating ice cream? Robots simply analyze the titles and descriptions of images that website owners have carefully optimized. By default, your images will have meaningless names like “dejc123.PNG”, “capture1.jpg”, or “images786h.jpg”. Although this can (possibly) be useful to the person who named them, it will not help Google understand their content and index them on its search engine. Take the time to name your images properly and briefly describe what they represent.
We assume that you already know how to rename an image so we will directly explain how to fill in your ALT tag. For those who use a content management platform such as WordPress, you can optimize the ALT tags of your images by going directly to your page or article. Then click on the image you want to optimize, then on “Edit”:
You can then enter your alt tag in the “alt text” section:
Choose the right image dimensions and optimize the size
The image format you post will influence the user experience. The better the image quality, the better the user experience in terms of viewing, but the better the image quality, the greater the weight of the image can be. If your images are too heavy, they can take a long time to load (especially on mobile devices) and this will worsen the user experience, as well as your SEO.
The balance between quality and weight of the image must therefore be carefully considered. If you have an online store (and therefore many images), you need to make sure that your users can see your products in detail but if you have a “see all products” page, your images shouldn’t be too heavy so that the page can be loaded quickly.
In concrete terms, try to use images with a maximum size of 100-150kb as often as possible and not to exceed 300kb (which is a large upper limit). If you are a photographer, architect, caterer (etc.) and your job “requires” you to show very high quality images, you can increase this limit but try not to put too many images on the same page in this case. The goal is always to optimize the loading time, which has become an important ranking factor for SEO.
Choose the right format for SEO image optimization
There are many image formats (.ai, .eps,.pdf, .psd,.jpg, .gif, .tif, .png, .svg etc.). To keep this article as concise as possible, we will look at the main formats you should consider (in our opinion). These are the JPG, GIF and PNG formats.
JPG is a compressed format that doesn’t support transparent backgrounds. It is recommended to keep a high resolution for commercial documents, a medium resolution for the web and a low resolution for e-mails.
GIF format supports transparent backgrounds and is compatible with most browsers. It is generally used for web and e-mail. This format is especially popular for its ability to create animations with a very light weight.
PNG format is an alternative to the GIF format that supports transparent backgrounds and can be compressed for the web. The advantage of this format compared to the GIF is that compression can be done without loss of quality 5% to 25% better than GIF. However, it does not support animations.
If you don’t know what format to choose, go for PNG and try to compress it to a maximum of 25%. Then compare the weight and quality with your original file. Optimizing the weight of each of your images (manually or via compression software) will improve your loading speed, your user experience and therefore your SEO. Remember that not only the big actions (writing articles, acquiring links etc.) will improve your SEO but also all the small and time-consuming actions that few people take the trouble to perform.
We hope you enjoyed this article and that our advice will help you improve your SEO performance. If you would like us to help you optimize your website or implement an effective SEO strategy, please contact us. Our experts will be happy to answer your questions. Many thanks for taking the time to read our article 😊