Yes, you probably already know about the importance of pictures if you run an online business or a website. But, do you know how important is it to optimize these pictures so they can be visible for search engines, create impact and engage users?
Straight to the point: What exactly do you have to do if you want to implement images better in your content and boost the rankings?
SEO and images
It’s all about image optimization – using techniques to make sure your pictures are ready for the Internet by reducing their file size and using the correct filenames, dimensions or attributes. All of it without affecting your website load time.
Images can be used for SEO ranking. They have the power of leading more visitors to your webpage and they also can help search engines to understand what the content in your blog or website is about.
Being SEO friendly with your images will be also helpful for your users because it will help them understand your website and navigate it more easily, enhancing the user experience.
In this article, I am going to show you the role of images in SEO and will give you a few tips on how to find the right pictures and how to increase the time users spend reading your content.
#1 How to increase your website readtime?
If users spend long time in your website, it means that they like it, you are doing it well. If visitors abandon your website, then your bounce rate will increase and this will reduce your conversions and therefore, your profits.
The ultimate goal if you count with a website is to make users stay as long as possible.
But how to make people don’t go?
As soon as a user opens up a website, she/he will decide to stay or leave in a matter of seconds. The very first step to convince them to stay is to have a good design in your website. They should be able to see that your webpage is clear, visually optimized and easy to read and understand.
- Always break large paragraphs. Too much text is always overwhelming for visitors. You can break these into sections, paragraphs, bullet points and always, always, leave space.
- Make your website readable for all kind of devices. Remember that users can visit your web through computer, phone or tablet.
- Add images. Images (and videos) are the most engaging form of content. If you continue reading, I will tell you all you need to know regarding pictures to use for you website.
#2 Choosing the right picture
As we just mentioned, you probably want to increase the time users spend reading your content. Then always better choose images that are original – they will help your SEO.
Images are everywhere, so now it’s the time to stand out. Imagine being an online user and see the same kind of picture over and over again. Not good, right?
The more original your images are and the more quality they have, the better experience will create for your users and the more time they will spend being on your website. And that’s the goal.
Remember that with the pictures you are using, you are telling the personality of your brand.
Don’t forget to use images that are copyright free. There are two easy ways of getting these: take your own pictures or use platforms to find them.
If you don’t have the time to take pictures by your own, you can access the universe of JumpStory to find millions of free-use pictures, vectors, videos and illustrations!
It’s also essential to choose images that are relevant to the user experience. Use your images to tell stories, images that support what you want to say, photographs with expression.
Another option is to use infographics to provide information or add motion to your pictures including GIFFs or even videos that provide tips and takeaways.
#3 The filename is important. Which one should you use?
What file name are you using when you save your images in your computer?
Regarding SEO images, it all starts with the name of the file. It’s the very first step and the most basic one.
You want Google to know which kind of picture you are using so it can be recognized easily, right? So just use your focus keyword or keyphrase in your image file name.
What do I mean?
Let’s put an example. Let’s say you are using an image with a girl playing tennis. Then, you shouldn’t use the file name DSC9674, as it is automatically saved in your computer, but instead you should specify what your image is about, naming it for example:
If you do this, it will be much easier for Google or any other search engine to recognize your picture and show it in the results.
Simple as that!
Google is a learning machine, so it’s in your hands to make it understand your images as best as possible by naming them correctly.
One tip: Avoid keyword stuffing – try not to use many words and synonyms and instead, keep the name of your image files descriptive and straightforward.
#4 Which file format and size to use?
It’s essential to always find the correct format and size for the images you are going to put on your website.
There is not a specific guideline for the correct format for images in SEO. But preferably, choose the image format in JPEG, PNG or GIFF. Each of these file types use a different compression method, meaning that the size among these 3 varies dramatically.
But here it goes a super quick and easy guideline:
- JPEG is the most used image format today. Photographs should be saved and uploaded as JPGs. This format uses what is called ‘’lossy data compression’’, which means that the image quality can suffer.
- JPEG format doesn’t support transparent background. Why is it the most common then? Because it keeps the file size small and you can use it almost everywhere.
- A PNG image is mostly used when editing with Adobe Photoshop. This format can handle transparent backgrounds and has a big color range. The only negative thing is that the size of this format can be larger than other formats.
- Logos, graphics or drawing texts are usually saved as a PNG.
- GIFFs are the best for images that are moving, simple art and animation that are generally small. GIFFs support only 256 colors, and that the reason why it’s not recommended for photographs.
- There alternative formats like WebP, which will produce high-quality results with smaller file sizes.
- You can also use SVG for your logo or if you want to use icons in your website.
The size of your pictures is crucial – how fast your website will load depends totally upon this.
If the image is too large, the main problem is that it will cause issues with your page load time. If your website is slow, it will create a negative impact on users and they will leave, causing this a damage on your conversions.
Nowadays, online users won’t wait for your webpage to download, so you better be fast. According to the BBC, nearly 50% of the online users won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a website to load.
On the other hand, if the picture you are using is too small, then it will lose quality.
A few tips that may be useful for you:
- Background images should be 10 KB or even less.
- High-quality pictures shouldn’t exceed 100KB and for banner images, the size should be around 60 KB.
- You can use Tinypng to reduce your photo size as well as JPEGmini.
- Once you have optimized your files, check out if your website is fast enough, and if it isn’t, discover why using Google Pagespeed. Or use other tools such as Insights or Pingdom.
#5 Descriptive Alt-tags on images. What is that?
The function of the Alt text (which stands by alternative text) is as its name indicates, to describe an image.
The goal is to describe your image but without exceeding in keywords, as we mentioned when we talked about the filename.
Just be descriptive and direct and remember that an alt-text can have a maximum of 125 characters.
Try to keep it short to optimize its impact. Short alt-tags are also more likely to be indexed by online search engines in a more efficient way.
Let’s see it with two examples:
Bad (missing alt text): < img src=”cat.jpg”/ >
Bad (keyword stuffing): < img src=”cat.jpg” alt=”kitty cat baby cats cute catties small cat little cat pet Abyssinian christmas cat”/>
Better: < img src=”cat.jpg” alt=”cat”/ >
Best: < img src=”cat.jpg” alt=”cat with santa hat”/ >
Bad (missing alt text): < img src=”dog.jpg”/ >
Bad (keyword stuffing): < img src=”dog.jpg” alt=”dog puppy pitbull cute cold winter ears earmuff lake winter”/>
Better: < img src=”dog.jpg” alt=”dog”/ >
Best: < img src=”dog.jpg” alt=”dog with earmuffs”/ >
If you want to learn more about alt-tags and image SEO according to Google, check out Google image best practices.
#6 Why is important to fix broken images for SEO?
If an image in your website does not show up or the picture cannot be seen, that’s called a broken image.
If your website has broken images means that the web page code that refers to an image location is incorrect or out of date.
Broken images are like broken links. You know that if you have them in your website, they will probably end up causing search engines to downgrade your page because they create a poor user experience.
That’s why it’s so important to check and keep a track on the links and images you have included in your content.
So, what to do to avoid broken images?
There are a few quick things you can check if your images are broken:
- Check if the image exists and it is located in your computer in the place where it should be. Sounds like a very basic step but it is a mistake commonly make. Sometimes we delete things or move them by accident.
- Check the filename and the extension. Make sure the image is named exactly as you typed your code. There are small details like underscores that can cause a broken image. E.g: small_cat versus small/cat). Or maybe you type ‘’cat.jpg’’ when the file is named ‘’cat.jpeg’’.
- Avoid linking the files to your computer. Imagine the situation in which your website and images work perfectly on your computer, but you got broken images accessing your web through any other device. Then probably you have used a local file that only our computer is going to understand.
It’s a common mistake to include local files in your HTML.
This is an example of using a local file path, which cause broken images:
< img src=”file:///Desktop/website/img/chocolate.jpg” alt=”Picture of a chocolate bar.” >
If the src attributes includes words either like my documents or desktop, or backlashes like “\” instead of “/”, then there are high chances that you are using a local file path.
Takeaways regarding image SEO and optimization
- Always use images together with your content.
- Be original and tell stories using your images.
- Use images that matches your text!
- Be descriptive and short when writing the filename of your pictures and the Alt-text.
- Always reduce the size of your images for a faster website loading.
- The most common formats for images are JPEG, PNG and GIFF.
- Broken images will create a poor user experience, always fix them.
I hope this quick guideline has been useful for you to understand better how SEO images work. Start using these techniques and you will start seeing results!