Get 90% More Views by Optimizing Images: 3 Essential Tips
by Colm O’Sullivan, AIM
You’ve heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s true. A recent HubSpot study has found that articles containing relevant images get over 90% more total views than articles without images. Written content will always be king but nowadays images need to be an imperative part of your content marketing strategy. Similar to making your content more appealing to read, images can also bring more traffic to your site via Google Image Search results.
The bad news?
If your images aren’t optimized, it can make your webpage load slower, create a poor user experience, increase your bounce rate, and ultimately have a negative impact on your rankings in search engines.
Today I’m going to share three essential tips for optimizing images on your website. That brings us to Tip #1.
Tip #1: Size Matters
Image size has a direct impact on loading speed. The bigger your image is, the longer it takes for your webpage to load. Reducing image size can reduce load speed by up to one third. Quicker load pages convert better. A one second delay in load speed can lead to a 7% drop in conversions.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep all your images under 50kb in size. With a little bit of work, it’s possible to keep quality high, and size below 50kb.
The good news is that it’s easy to find images on your site that are over the recommended size.
The easiest way is to reach out, and I’ll send you a list of all your images over 50kb in a csv file, for free.
If you’d prefer to do it yourself, a quick Google search will return a number of tools that are up to the job. I like Screaming Frog. It allows you to easily find images over 50kb. It’s free to use for your first 500 pages. If your site has more than 500 pages, it is relatively inexpensive to purchase an annual licence.
Once you’ve downloaded, installed, and opened the software, follow these steps to find the required images:
Step 1: Set the image size parameter to 50kb. To do this, click into Configuration and then Spider.
Step 3: Allow Screaming Frog crawl your site by placing your URL in the search box and pressing Start.
Step 4: Go make a cup of coffee.
The length of time it takes Screaming Frog to crawl your site depends on how big your site is. It could be anything from five minutes to five hours. Leave it running in the background and go scratch a few items from that ever-growing list of things you need to do today.
Step 5: Click on Images and Filter by Over 50kb.
Now you’re left with a list of all the images on your site that are over 50kb in size. You can either export them to a CSV file or you can analyse them in the software. I like analysing them in the software because it allows me to see what page the image is used on.
Once you have your list of images, you need to compress them. There’s an array of tools available online for this. Some are free, some are paid. I like using the Save For Web feature of PhotoShop to help reduce file size and keep image quality. There’s a great article on using Photoshop to reduce image size here.
If you’re having any issues, please get in touch. We can help here, too.
Once your images are compressed, you’ll need to replace your current images. I find the plugin Enable Media Replace is great. As with all plugins, make sure you test in a staging environment first.
Now that you’ve taken care of your image size issues, and increased load speed, you can tackle the next step in optimizing images on your website.
Tip #2: File Names Are Important
An often overlooked step in uploading images to a site is naming your file correctly.
If you’re using an image of a sunset in Bora Bora or an image of one of your reports, don’t name it “picture-1” or similar. Call it something that describes what the image is about (e.g. if it’s a report on investing in gold, a good name for the image would be investing-in-gold-bullion.jpg or sunset-in-bora-bora.jpg if the image is of a sunset in Bora Bora). The file name is the first indication to the search engine of what your image is about.
Tip #3: Help Google Decipher What
Your Images Are About
The final tip relates to the humble alt tag. It’s is a very important element of image optimization. It has two important uses. First, it describes an image for the visually impaired who are using screen readers. Secondly, it helps search engines understand what an image is about. When you see a picture of Usain Bolt winning another gold medal, you instantly recognize what’s happening in the image.
The problem is, although a picture can paint a thousand words for humans, search engine spiders can’t recognize what’s going on in an image, not yet anyway. Without alt text, search engines only have the file name to help them figure out what an image is about. Using alt text, you can help Google decipher what’s happening in a picture. Great alt tags follow three simple rules:
- Never keyword stuff your alt tags.
- Make your alt tag as informational as possible.
- Keep alt text under 100 characters.
Inputting alt text into an image is easy. If using WordPress, you can add it when placing your image into your post.
If you’re hand coding your image, place an alt tag in the image code like this:
<img src=”usain-bolt-winning-gold-rio.gif” alt=”Usain Bolt winning gold in Rio” height=”224″ width=”450″>
How can I find images on my site that are missing alt tags?
Use Screaming Frog again. Under the images tab, you can filter by Missing alt text.
You can then export this data to a csv file or view all the images on your site that are missing alt tags in Screaming Frog. Again, we’re here to help. Reach out if you’d like us to pull this data for you.
So there you have it. Three tips to help optimize images on your website. Since you invest hours writing high quality content, don’t let that effort go to waste by using images that negatively affect page performance. By optimizing your images, you’ll not only create a better user experience and improve page load times, you’ll also increase traffic to your site.
Thanks for reading,
SEO Specialist, AIM