The latest Jumpshot research reveals that 21.51% of all web searches take place on Google Images.
That’s a huge chunk of organic traffic that you could be missing out on if you don’t optimise your images to be found online.
But with continual Google algorithm updates and advancements in AI image recognition, do the same old techniques still work?
Here are 7 of the most up to date image optimisation tips you need to know.
1. Descriptive Image File Names
Google recommends that you give your images descriptive file names to help its crawlers understand the subject matter of an image.
But with Google’s image recognition capabilities coming on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, do you still need to bother?
Image recognition is getting better all the time, but it’s far from perfect.
You can help search engines to find and understand your images by using proper file names.
2. Relevant Keywords in Alt Text and Captions
The same goes for your image alt text and captions.
Alt text describes an image and is displayed to users when there’s an issue rendering a web page.
Search engines use alt text and captions to understand images.
Using appropriate keywords in alt text and captions helps search engines to understand what an image depicts.
The know-how offers you expertise, but there is no generally accepted strategy to apply to any brand. If a brand performs well online in a certain direction this does not mean that your brand will have the same success if you apply the same strategy or communication directions.
3. Browser Caching
Browser caching stores files from your website in your visitor’s web browser.
When the user returns to your site, the browser can quickly access the local copy of the files, rather than reloading the files from the website server.
Returning visitors get faster loading speeds and better user experience, increasing the chances of them staying for longer and checking out what your site has to offer.
A huge study by Backlinko revealed that more time spent on site strongly correlates with a higher ranking in search results.
If you use WordPress, you can install a caching plugin from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
If you use another CMS platform, you can add the following code to your .htaccess file:
You can access your .htaccess file by using an FTP client like FileZilla.
Once you have added the code, save the file in its original format.
4. Use the Right Image Format
Browser caching speeds up your site for returning visitors, but you can make your images faster to load for every user by choosing the right image file format.
Google created a useful diagram to help webmasters choose the right file type for image files:
GIF files should only be used for animations, with logos and graphics saved in SVG file format.
JPEG files can be compressed more than PNGs and are usually more SEO friendly.
However, there is a format that offers even higher levels of compression while maintaining image quality.
WebP is a modern image format that produces files that are 25-34% smaller than comparable quality JPEG files.
You can find out more about WebP here.
Whichever image format you use, try to keep image files under a 100Kb file size.
5. Compress Image Files
Compressing files is a Google recommended SEO image optimisation best practice.
You can use tools like ImageOptim or plugins like WP Smush to reduce image file size without noticeably affecting the visual quality.
The problem with these tools is that they strip your images of hidden EXIF data.
Google has previously stated that EXIF data can be used as a ranking factor in Google Image results.
You can preserve image EXIF data by changing the settings in ImageOptim, and in the plugin settings for WP Smush.
This will save the EXIF data of any new image files you compress, but what about the images you have already compressed and uploaded to your site?
6. Add EXIF Data
You can add EXIF data to your images by using a free EXIF editor.
- Head over to theexixer.net and upload your image.
- Once the file is uploaded, click on the “eXif.me” button.
- You’ll now be able to fill in the blank EXIF data fields.
- After you’ve filled in the EXIF information, click on the “Go.eXifing” button in the bottom right corner.
- Once the image has been processed, you’ll see a notification bar
- Close the editor and download your optimised image.
- Replace the images on your website with the optimised versions that include EXIF data.
7. Resize Images to Page Dimensions
Your images are displayed in your web page content area.
If the width of your content area is 720 pixels, that’s the maximum display width of your image.
Any images wider than 720 px will slow down your page speed unnecessarily.
There are a bunch of tools you can use to resize your images before you upload them to your site:
Resize your images to the exact width of your content areas to maximise the efficiency of your image files.
The benefits of SEO image optimisation shouldn’t be underestimated.
According to Google, images account for over 60% of the page weight for the average web page.
Using the above tips, you can make your images more appealing to search engines, faster to load, and offer a better experience to your users.
About the author
Ilan Shabad is the co-founder of One Egg Digital a marketing agency specialising in exceptional SEO, PPC & email marketing. Ilan is responsible for developing and executing performance-based digital marketing strategies that help improve organic traffic, paid search performance, drive more leads and improve their ROI on marketing investments.
Director & Co-Founder