Images are one of the crucial components of a website that provide users a detailed view of what the business is all about. When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), websites with attractive and relevant images can create a good first impression. In fact, images play an important role in creating attractive content, thereby persuading audiences to spend more time with the website content. Loading speed is one of the most important factors that make audiences stick to a web page. Image optimization improves the loading speed. Optimized images help improve the overall performance of the website, including its SEO rankings and user experience. Organic SEO companies can assist in utilizing images effectively to bring increased traffic to the website.
Image Optimization Tips to Improve Website Speed
Here discussed are some important image optimization strategies that help improve website speed –
- Choose the Right File Format – Choosing the right image format is one of the initial strategies to consider during image optimization. As the image file type impacts the page speed parameters, it is important to choose the correct file type. There are different file types that are classified into vector and raster images. Vector file formats include SVG, PDF, EPS, and AI. Typically, vector images help depict images that are a combination of lines, points, and colors, such as logos and icons. One of the main benefits of vector images is that it is possible to scale them without compromising quality. On the other hand, raster images are pixel-based and resolution-dependent. When resized, raster images become blurry or pixelated. Image file formats in the raster category include JPEG, PNG, GIF, and RAW.
- JPEG – A very popular image file format, JPEG is supported by nearly all devices and operating systems. As JPEG images are relatively small, they do not slow down web page load times and are quicker to upload or transfer. Generally, both baseline and progressive JPEG files are good at protecting the color. However, since JPEGs use lossy compression, the smaller the file size, the lower will be the image quality. This is because each time a JPEG format gets edited, it eliminates more data. Therefore, this format will not necessarily work well on images that require continuous adjustments and contain text.
- GIF – These are 8-bit images that display a maximum of 256 colors. This means that GIF images are not as sharp in quality as other raster formats. This file format supports transparency, simple line drawings and text, and produce small file sizes. This the best image format for creating animated images – an excellent format for creating engaging content. Images in this format load quickly and consume less bandwidth. Therefore, it is a great alternative for sharing simple images on banner ads, blogs, and social media.
- PNG (Portable Network Graphics) – Having up to 256 colors, PNG files can support partially transparent images more efficiently. PNG images are a perfect choice if there is a need to create or save images such as logos, icons, simple illustrations, or any other that require a smooth transition between colors. In addition, the PNG format works well with images with a lot of text such as screenshots, infographics, and banners. As this file format is bigger than JPEG, using too many PNG files will slow down website page load time.
- WebP – WebP combines the characteristics of other popular web image formats, like replacing GIFs for animations and PNGs for transparency. Many CMS (Content Management System) platforms do not support the WebP format. However, it is possible for users running a WordPress site using WordPress 5.8 or higher versions, to upload WebP images to the media library.
Here are some of the most common file formats that work well on nearly all browsers and can be edited on most image editing software –
- Compress Image Files – When compressing image files, it is important to note that smaller file sizes generally result in lower image quality. Compressing images not only helps reduce storage and bandwidth usage, but it also provides faster page load and download times for website visitors. However, before compressing images, it is important to consider the image’s content, color gradients, and detail complexity.
- Compress images prior to the upload – Compressing images before uploading them to a website helps save disk space and speed up the upload process.
- Automate the image compression process – While dealing with a handful of images, automatic compression may not be a priority. However, it is a great alternative when you need to compress a large number of images simultaneously as it helps save a lot of time. Automation also becomes useful for compressing images into different formats and naming the files.
- Tailor image compression to the device – Always use the proper compression formats based on the targeted device.
When compressing images, also consider the following aspects –
- Use Appropriate Image Dimensions – Image dimension refers to the width and height of the image based on pixels. Using images with incorrect dimensions will slow down the website load speed. For instance, if you are using a 500 x 500 px image for a 50 x 50 px thumbnail, the browser will have to download and scale the picture properly before displaying it to site visitors. The best way to avoid this is by serving scaled images. Scaled images adjust to the exact dimensions required by the website (whether it is a full-width image or a small thumbnail).
- Consider Serving Images via CDN – Utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) to serve static content can significantly improve a website’s performance. Instead of relying on a single server to transport many megabytes of data for each visitor, a CDN provides global reach. A CDN caches the requested content and subsequently delivers it from a geographic location closer to the website visitor. This means the data travels a shorter path, which leads to faster load times for your website and all its media content. In short, without optimizing the images, a CDN already speeds up the page load times.
- Enhanced user experience – Image CDNs automatically shrink images, converting their format according to the user’s device and image’s content. This is especially useful when users access websites such as eCommerce shops, which can display several thumbnail images on each web page.
- Better site speed – When web images are stored in an image CDN, they don’t need to be optimized every time a new device requests to load them. This is because a CDN server uses caching, speeding up the time it takes to deliver images.
- Mobile-friendly – Advanced image CDNs ensure that the images are properly displayed across all devices. It adapts and compresses the images according to the user’s device and network conditions.
- Constant uptime – Typically, image requests are served by the most recently cached data. If the CDN server is down, the page will still load normally.
Here are some benefits of using an image CDN –
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How Image Optimization Helps Boost SEO
Well-optimized images can provide the website a better chance of appearing in search engine results. The appropriate combination of format, alt text, and titles can contribute to enhanced SEO performance. Boosting the SEO performance through image optimization involves consideration of several factors –
- Write Proper Image File Names – Correctly named files provide context about the images, increasing their chances of ranking in the image search. The image title can be the keyword that your particular web page is trying to rank for on search engine results pages (SERPs). Descriptive file names help search engines locate images quickly. Depending on the kind of images created or saved, it is important to write the product name and include descriptive words such as their brand or color. Moreover, use dashes rather than underscores to name your files. When it comes to keywords, use a tool like Google Search Console to review Search Analytics and the queries regarding website products and services. Also, use common or trending words or phrases that your target market or potential customers may type in on search engines to find your business website online.
- Write Alt Texts – Adding alt text is a step that helps optimize images and boost SEO. An Alt tag allows search engines to locate images and have them displayed on SERPs. Basically, alt text is a description of the image’s context and content. It is what screen readers read and what will appear on the page if an image cannot be loaded. Make sure that the alt text description is specific, including the image’s message, context, etc. Try to keep the descriptions within 125 characters. If possible, include a target keyword in the alt text, but never overdo it.
- Use Structured Data for Images – Leveraging structured data or schema markup for your WordPress site is another crucial strategy for maximizing the impact of SEO efforts. Basically, it provides clear information about a website page to help search engines fully comprehend its purpose and context, improving the crawling and indexing processes. This is because structured data provides additional information about the images, helping search engines relate them to specific search queries. By using structured data in images, you can increase the chances of them appearing in search results. For instance, use Schema.org to structure data for improving the site’s SEO performance. This collaborative vocabulary assists in locating specific markups for your page and coding it properly.
- Optimize the Page Title and Description – When ranking images, Google also considers components such as the page’s title, meta description, headers, and content. Therefore, an optimized page title and description can help a website rank in the image search. Tools such as Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and Semrush for keyword research can help identify the most relevant search queries, their search volume, and keyword difficulty. Then, include the relevant keywords on the page title, meta description, and URL. When combined with other image optimization strategies, this will help increase a website’s chances of ranking high on search results.
- Place the Images Properly – Adding images randomly can have a poor influence on the context and relevance of your page. Therefore, it is important to place the images properly on the website. Use an image that is directly connected to the written content. Keep in mind that screen readers cannot access texts within the images. So, make sure to provide relevant alt texts and include essential information in the image.
- Optimize for Mobile Devices – As more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, it is important to ensure that the visitors can access all pages and images smoothly from all devices. Using Google’s Mobile-friendly Test Tool can help scan a website and evaluate whether it will look good on mobile screens. In addition, the tool will provide a report on the overall usability of your website.
- Save Relevant Filename – Lastly, make sure to save the image using a filename that is relevant to your area of business or industry. Just like the alt tag, the image filename should include keywords or phrases that people most commonly search for online. Furthermore, the filename should include a brand’s products or services. The ultimate goal of image optimization is to get the image displayed on the first page of SERPs.
Optimizing images may sound like a challenging task, but the benefits that come from doing so can be quite rewarding. Optimizing images help a website load faster and generate more traffic. Also, with image optimization, photo sharing on social media networks becomes easier, which helps in overall improvement of the digital marketing campaigns. In short, optimizing images can help a website rank high on search engines. Availing the services of an organic SEO company can help design the right optimization strategies to improve website traffic and user engagement.
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