The Importance of Image Optimization in SEO
The Importance of Images in SEO
The importance of images in search engine optimization will detail the vital role of images and their web development optimization. We will show the necessity of image optimization and how it drives user traffic to a web page, and the importance of having many images throughout a web page. A website is a business's lifeline to the world. With every passing day, users raise their web pages' expectations while reducing their effort on web searches to find the web pages they desire. A company may have the most beautiful web page layout that functions well once it is finished loading, but that does not mean much if the customer never sees it. That is the end goal, which requires many successful steps to land the customer there.
Although standard web searches draw most web traffic, image clicks themselves increasingly drive users to websites. Image optimization is increasingly important with multifaceted elements in this regard. We will further show why image optimization is needed, what steps should focus on, and create a positive user experience.
Why images are important
Well-designed images and their optimization for search engines are invaluable. Pictures command more attention than plain text, but they have also become a driving force for web traffic to websites. Organic visitors generated from image clicks are growing. These image clicks are primarily through Google Images. A user may click one image and suggest other possibly related images by Google's indexing. Gaining exposure this way through indirect searching is a significant driver of web traffic.
According to a 2018 Jumpshot study, over 20% of all searches online were generated through Google Images. A web page may miss out on a potentially large number of users if its images are not optimized for search engine discovery and indexing.
How images drive traffic
We may click on an image, and additional photos are displayed that we can potentially click. This is a significant driving force that all started with just one search.
Optimize images for discovery
Search engines do not arbitrarily see the actual image from a web page we search for and fetch it.
Crawlers and Indexing
A search engine's function is to retrieve relevant matches for the user's input. This is made possible due to a method called crawling. Crawling is a method where bots search through a list of known websites with links.
For our images to be optimized for search engines, they need to be discovered by these crawlers. This points to the importance of alt text. Alt-text is a tag we can image in the code itself, which is identifiable to search engine crawlers. These crawlers then take these alt text tags and link to them. These bots follow these links further and further, creating a database or Index. This link is then stored in this Index, returnable to a search engine user.
The Importance of Alt Text
A user may or may not know what they are looking for. Giving an image of a relevant name will help match the user with your image. Providing alt text for your photos will allow search engines to identify your image correctly. Choosing which words to use for an image may be easier said than done. We want our alt text to represent our image accurately, but being too specific may limit our Index's exposure. Being too general may give exposure, but it may be overshadowed by the millions of other generally alt text labeled images.
It is important to find a good middle ground.
● Do be specific about the image and its contents
● Do not fit every word that comes to mind
● Do not be too generic or use unrelated words
Optimize for speed
Web page load speed is perhaps the second most crucial image search engine optimization quality. We have all been there. We are looking through a Google search, clicking on links of interest. Depending on our state of mind, we may be too restless for a web page to load, or perhaps we tell ourselves it was not that interesting. This is where faster load times are crucial.
The first battle was to guide traffic to your website, this second battle keeps users' interest, and speed is essentially how it is done. According to a google case study, 53% of users will leave a web page if load times go beyond 3 seconds. This is primarily due to poor image optimization for the online experience.
Correctly format files
Not all browsers can view all file types. The file formats chosen for a web page should mainly focus on their cross-platform capability, uses, and size.
Image format compatibility
Let us talk about compatibility. There are many file formats for images used by different software, but all browsers do not recognize them all. Most commonly used web browsers support the use of JPEG, PNG, and SVG files.
Image format choices
When choosing the correct format, we should discuss image formatting regarding its uses. We established JPEG, PNG, and SVG files as the most commonly recognized browsers and software, but they also have specific benefits.
JPEG suffers from what is described as lossy compression or lossless compression. Lossy compression files can be described as losing their quality by data loss from their original state. This does sound like a poor choice because who wants a poor-quality image on their web page? On the opposite side, a high-quality image will have a larger file size resulting in longer load times and sometimes with a less noticeable difference.
A reduction in image quality may often not take a noticeable hit when viewing online but is recognized once printed out. It is essential to find a middle ground. The ultimate goal is to find this balance where compressing the file size stop before quality loss or artifacts are notable.
PNG formatting is quite different compared to JPEG. They do not suffer from data loss when image resizing or image compression. This is great but especially useful for graphics and transparent images compared to pictures. Because graphic and line art are more simplistic regarding file size, having greater detail to maintain high line quality does not hinder web page speed nearly as much as pictures.
Perhaps the most underused file type is SVG. This file format is excellent since it can be used in multiple ways. They can be animated in CSS (another topic) or vector files meaning they do not lose image quality while inherently small file size. They are great for artwork, graphics, and other generally low-detailed work.
With both formats, the ultimate goal is quality without sacrificing speed. Image quality should be painting satisfactory levels while maintaining optimal load speeds. A solid rule to follow is not to use images larger than 1MB.
Sizing an image correctly is essential. A significant note here is that image size goes beyond want the user sees on a web page. The source itself needs to be the optimal size. Yes, the HTML or CSS coding can choose what size the browser displays the setting, but that is not the entire picture. If you have a large image being sourced, it will cause your web page to load slower since it must read the sourced image first before displaying it.
Compress image file
Image file sizes are essential, as discussed above. Did we mention reducing the image file sizes and their source size, which are equally important for web page load speed, but what methods best compress the image file?
Many online web pages allow image upload and optimization on their end, and downloadable programs that range from expensive to free. One of the most powerful yet costly programs is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop allows compression of many image file formats and is not limited to just JPEG. You can view how the effects of compression and other image manipulations relate to image file size to customize your image where you need it.
Store images on a single server
Now that we have the guidelines for image optimization, where should they be pulled from or where should they be stored?
Have you ever browsed through websites and noticed images missing or unable to load? This could be the cause of poor image hosting. If the hosting site goes down or is modified itself, the web page link may have become broken or unable to source the image.
A more future-proof method for speed but dependability is hosting the image on your server. The downside is copyright laws and if purchasing a license for the file is possible.
As shown, image optimization can go as deep as we wish. The goal is to optimize images through formatting and alt text. An image must be formatted correctly to be seen and loaded quickly. Alt text aids in identifying what your image is. Indexing your image further allows the discovery of your web page.
This all adds up to optimization for search engines. Google has clued us in on these factors to gain a higher rank of a website. The more websites have links pointing their way, the higher the rank. Much of that is out of our control since it relies on others to link to us. However, we have the power to make ourselves quickly discovered and optimized for speed. Speed is Google's other ranking factor. If we load quickly, it gives us favor in Google's ranking system.
The main takeaway for image optimization still holds a common theme. As time progresses, so do the requirements for images, their formatting, and how search engines and browsers understand them. Although we tailor our pictures to the web browsers we choose, those browsers come into and fall out of favor over time. Image formatting, alt text, and stored location all come into play regardless.