A picture or an image might be worth 1,000 words, and can be attractive on a website. They can make the user experience more memorable, but they also need to be read well by Search Engines to be of benefit your website’s Search Engine Rankings and SEO.
Images may seem like a straightforward component of your website, but often many websites don’t perform as well as they should because of a few critical image factors that, if done correctly in the first place can improve the website design and also benefit your SEO results. We’ll briefly look at just three of them:
- Image File Names
- Image ALT Tags
- Image Size and Resolution
For us humans to view an image and register what it is it takes a combination of the human eyes and brain to do so. However for Google and other Search Engines they are basically visually impaired! It is therefore important to ensure your images are correctly formatted and have the correct file names and ALT tags that help Search Engines understand what they are.
Image File Names
Giving pictures an appropriate file name will help Search Engines determine content. In other words, name your image files something that is indicative of what the image is, for example web-design-melbourne.jpg rather than what is generally recorded from the camera e.g. IMG1234.jpg or DSC12778.jpg.
File names are best when they’re short, relevant and descriptive. When renaming images use hyphens, rather than underscores.
File Name: Web-Design-Melbourne.jpg
Image ALT Tags
The ALT Tag attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it. This is a caption that will also replace the image when it cannot be viewed by a browser or a Search Engine crawler. As Search Engine crawlers are basically visually impaired, they use the ALT Tag to read an image and work out what it is about.
Therefore it is essential for the ALT Tag to be descriptive and relevant to the image, where it is applicable we highly recommend using a keyword in your ALT tag name.
Below is an example of what Google and other Search Engines read when they come across and image, the ALT tags are shown.
Google recommends you be as descriptive as possible. The following is an example of what Google would deem bad, better, and best alt text for an image:
Bad: alt=”” (just left blank)
Better: alt=”design” (not descriptive enough)
Google also advises against using an alt text by simply over stuffing the Alt Tag loaded with keywords.
Avoid: alt=”web-design, web-design-melbourne, website-design, web-page-design, web-site-design-company, web-site-design-company-melbourne, …..etc ”
Image Size and Resolution
Web images take up the majority of the download time in most website pages. The speed of a website is important to visitors. You need to capture their attention quickly and convince them to look further. If the website page takes a long time to load, a potential customer visitor will be lost. Slow website pages can also cause a website to be downgraded by the Search Engines.
Most digital cameras take photos that are way bigger than the average web page can display; what’s more these images generally have large file sizes. Therefore having a good imaging manipulation program that can optimize images for website use (resize/crop/ adjust/ optimize) is essential to help manipulate images direct from your camera before they are uploaded to your website.
Many aspects make up getting an image “just right” for the web, however these are too numerous to detail in this brief article. One aspect however that is often overlooked to help reduce the file is by adjusting the image resolution to 72dpi.
Again you’ll need to check the image properties in your imaging program and if the image shows a resolution of 200 or 300dpi then use the program to resize the image to 72dpi. To simplify ~ this will help to reduce the file size. For example a 200 x 200 pixels image at 72dpi, 150dpi, or 300dpi will all display exactly the same on the web, however the 72dpi file will be smaller in size and therefore load quicker!
If there’s anything you think we’ve missed that you want to know? Do you have anything to say about optimising images for SEO? Let us know by commenting below.