If you are an upcoming blogger, chances are that you find yourself asking whether your articles require images.
In many cases, the most common answer is ‘Yes.’ Images are known to add life to all your posts ‒ online newspaper or magazine articles, blog posts, etc. Moreover, having images added to your website contributes to its Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
This comprehensive guide will take you through all the nitty-gritty of image SEO, providing some pointers on using images for improved user experience on websites.
What is image SEO?
By now, you may be aware that there are different sophisticated parts of Search Engine Optimization. One of the elements that are often overlooked by specialists is image optimization, also known as image SEO.
Do you remember the last time you uploaded an image to your site? If yes, chances are, you downloaded the image from a stock photography site, uploaded it to your website, and inserted it into the page through the backend of the website.
Well, is this what image SEO is all about? Not quite.
Image SEO refers to the process of creating and delivering high-quality graphics or images to make it appealing to search engine crawlers. It provides more information about a particular image to the search engines, helping them understand the type of content that can boost visibility and search rankings. This means the image you post on your website can easily appear in Google’s image search.
According to a recent study, over 20 percent of web searches happen on Google images, ultimately increasing traffic to your site should your image rank. Image optimization requires you to deliver the graphics in the ideal format, size, and resolution, which helps increase user engagement.
Furthermore, you’ll come to understand that search engine crawlers can only rank an image they can read and understand, meaning you have to accurately label them before being published.
Why Blogs and Articles Require Images
It would be an understatement to claim that the internet is a crowded place. With over 4.4 million blogs published every day, fighting for readership becomes highly-competitive. Crazy, right?
So how do you ensure that your website has a piece of the cake? How do you increase the traffic to your site?
One of the most proven methods of having more people hooked to your site is by incorporating images. With that said, take a look at these compelling reasons why you need to include images in your blogs and articles:
1. Images are visually appealing.
It is no brainer that adding an image to a blog post is the best way to build a first impression. Without a visual appeal, visitors are more likely to leave your page in a heartbeat. Some marketing channels which are not usually built on the concept of ‘selling images’ also require still graphics to succeed.
For instance, if you wish to post a video on YouTube, you still have to create an appealing image added to the thumbnail. This helps searchers have a clue of what to expect in your content. Moreover, one of the latest entrants in the marketing field is the use of podcasts. You might be wondering why you need an image, yet a podcast is all about audio.
Well, a podcast is technically about having the right content and using the best podcast hosts. However, the Google algorithm doesn’t rank audio content. This means you need to utilize other methods such as transcription and images, to make your podcast discoverable.
Visually attractive content has a higher chance of building emotional connections with readers, as they appear friendlier and inviting for the user to take action.
2. Images help break down complex ideas.
Not everyone understands technical content, but using images helps to break down complex ideas. It is much easier to comprehend concepts when an image is involved, helping the readers understand what you’re writing about.
3. Images boost SEO ranking.
One of the most important reasons you need images in your website is boosting your SEO rankings. Aside from link building, using relevant keywords, etc., having images in your blog posts increases user engagement, ultimately improving site ranking.
So how does one optimize images for SEO?
Image SEO: Tips and Tricks on How to Optimize Images for SEO
First of all, there are different types of images you can use on your website. They include photos, infographics, screenshots, graphic illustrations, etc.
The first step is to choose the one that can best describe your article. Photos are used to help the reader to understand the topic while infographics, screenshots, and others allow the reader to comprehend a concept better.
Once that is done, follow these simple best-practices to add SEO-friendly images to your website.
1. Choose the right format
Before you start adding images to your website, you’ll want to ensure that you have them in the right format. While there are many formats you can go for, PNG and JPEG images are the most common images for the web.
PNG offers a better quality of images, but it comes in a larger size. The image quality is sacrificed in JPEG, but it is easy to adjust the quality level to find the perfect balance.
2. Use a proper file name.
Google looks at your file name for ranking, so the file name should be relevant to your post. Using the most relevant keyword or key phrase is the first way to identify the correct file name to be used on the image.
For instance, if your image is relevant to your topic of the best podcasting hosts, use best-podcasting-hosts-2020.png instead of DSC6199.png. The former is easier to search for and appear in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
3. Use Alt Text and captions.
Adding Alt Text and captions in images is another sure way of optimizing images for search. Alt Text shows up in place of the image if it fails to load on the browser. It helps to describe the image, and it is what is read if the user uses a screen reader or hovers over an image.
On the other hand, captions are visible to users, usually found beneath the image. Most search engines such as Google utilize both Alt Texts and captions when ranking pages.
When writing your Alt Text, here are a few useful tips:
- Describe the image accurately
- Keep the text relatively short
- Include your main keyword in the Alt Text
- Avoid using words such as ‘image of’ or ‘photo of.’
4. Beware of copyright
Although there are billions of images found on the internet, you are not to use just any photo. Ensure that there is no copyright conflict as using someone else’s image without their permission opens you up to some serious lawsuits.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you can be issued with a notice to take down content once someone else complains about their intellectual property being used without their consent.
Google has an algorithm that tends to filter out images that have been ranked elsewhere or with protected copyrights. This is why you can see the warning often put up beneath the images on the search pages written, “Images may be subject to copyright.” Using unlicensed images only harms your web ranking.
5. Make your images mobile-friendly.
Mobile SEO, at its worst, can give you low conversion and high bounce rates. At its best, a site that is well-optimized for mobile gives you more ranking power.
Creating responsive images is one of the surest ways of achieving the mobile-first index. This means that they scale with the size of the site regardless of the device one is using.
6. Add structured image data.
Adding structured data to your pages enables search engine crawlers to show your images as rich results. This can be attributed to the support Google Images offers to the structured data of videos, images, and recipes.
For instance, should you want to post an image of a recipe to your page and add structured data to it, Google adds a badge to it, showing that it belongs to a recipe.
7. Compress images
Search engine rankings are based on many factors, including page load time. The larger the image files are, the longer it takes to load the page.
Your ranking stands to suffer if your website takes time to load, as users can get frustrated with waiting, leaving without even viewing your content. 53 percent of site users tend to leave it when it takes more than 3 seconds to load, meaning you should add images to your posts wisely, avoiding crowding them and using huge files.
There is no standard rule on the file size to be used on your blog posts, but anything more than a hundred kilobytes should be enough to slow down the loading speed. As you compress the images, try to balance them and maintain high-quality. Don’t decrease the file size so much that you end up sacrificing the quality.
Image SEO: Start Optimizing Your Images for SEO
If you are struggling to get your content noticed, these simple tips will help you rank your content when uploading images. Times are changing, so you should be flexible enough to adjust to the latest trends and best practices.
Regardless of the content, you put out, maximizing image SEO will see you getting more returns and higher conversion rates. For instance, podcast ad revenues are projected to reach $659 million in 2020. How else can you get your podcast to rank on search engines apart from proper image optimization?
Nevertheless, image SEO is just one of the many SEO best practices that must work together for optimal performance. These optimization techniques will ensure that both search engines and human users like your content.
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Lidia S. Hovhan is a part of the Content and Marketing team at OmnicoreAgency. She contributes articles about how to integrate digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing to help business owners to meet their online goals. You can find really professional insights into her writings.