What is more interesting to you – a screen full of text or text punctuated with images?
That’s a pretty easy choice for most of us. A text-only website, blog post, or other digital content is neither engaging nor memorable. In fact, research shows people are 80 percent more likely to read content that includes an image and 64 percent more likely to remember it afterward. In other words, no matter how good a writer you are, you better have good images if you want people to read your stuff.
Images are more than eye candy; they play a key role in search engine optimization (SEO). First, Google’s algorithm pays attention to behavior metrics that reflect user experience, like the amount of time visitors spend on a web page and bounce rates.
Images should be optimized to directly support SEO. While visitors to your page or blog only see the image itself, search engine crawlers—the things that help your site or post show up in a user’s search—see text behind the image to determine if the content fits search criteria.
If you’re not optimizing your images with text for search engine crawlers, you’re missing an opportunity to be found by people searching for you, your company, products, services, or event. Plus, if you format your image improperly or your image files are too large, you’ll make your content slow to load and increase your bounce rate—a big no-no in Google’s eyes.
While optimizing images is a big deal in terms of search, it’s fairly easy for most people to do. I found a great article that lays it all out in simple terms. Here are a few easy-to-implement tips. You can read the entire article here>
Don’t just grab an image off the web and use it. If you do, you could be guilty of copyright infringement and at risk of an expensive lawsuit. At a very minimum, the person who owns the license to the image can demand you take it down. Avoid copyright issues by purchasing stock or original photography. You can find free images on the web, but these images aren’t always the best options.
Use original, high-quality images. The more original images you have, the better experience for the user and the better your odds are of ranking on relevant searches. Images can be photography, infographics, charts or illustrations. Original photography is more desirable than stock photography as it is unique to your site or content, something search engine crawlers recognize. If your budget dictates stock, you can easily customize it using simple online graphics apps like Canva and Snappa
Choose the right file format. JPEG images provides the best options for maintaining a quality image when compressed or resized and is the most popular photo type in the digital space. A PNG image is typically used when editing or downloading files from Adobe Photoshop. PNG is known to handle transparency, and are often used for logo image assets as the image appears small, yet the resolution is high quality. GIF is a bitmap image format commonly used for simple art and animations. It is the ideal format for company logos and other page elements of websites due to its small file size and support for transparent backgrounds.
Optimize file size. Images are often the main cause of slow loading times. If your site’s speed needs improvement, try reducing the file sizes of your images through resizing and compression. The overall size of your image should not be much larger than you actually need it to be (i.e. the width of your web page or blog post). You don’t have to be a pro with Adobe Photoshop to resize images. My workaround is use design apps like Canva or Snappa, which optimizes the file size for you. I also will email a high-res image to my self, resize it on my smart phone, and send it back to myself in a smaller format. Not sophisticated, but it works in a pinch.
Add descriptive captions. Adding captions to your images is an image optimization best practice. The caption is the text that appears below the image, explaining what is in the picture. While the words in your article may not be read, chances are high the caption will be. Captions are beneficial because not all images are understood right away, and the function adds context for the image to provide more context for the search engines to understand. Captions see up to 16 percent more readership than text, according to Poynter Research, proof of their value to readers.
Name your images for SEO. Creating descriptive, keyword-rich file names is absolutely crucial to effective SEO. Image file names alert Google and other search engine crawlers as to the subject matter of your image. If using an image you took or downloaded from a camera or smart phone, the file name is typically a number. Change the file name to descriptive words that will help search engines understand your image and improve your SEO value. The file name should be a short, accurate, keyword-infused description of the what your image represents.
Image optimization takes some effort, but represents a clear opportunity to improve user engagement, the searchability of your content and ultimately the success of your marketing efforts. If you’d like professional help optimizing your content, let’s connect.