When it comes to online images, they serve more than one purpose. Yes, they add interest to your website pages or attract attention on your Google listing but did you know, they can work harder for you by supporting your SEO strategy and making your content more accessible?
When uploading images online, these are 5 things you should consider in addition to the image itself:
- Alt text
In this instance, it does matter.
Image size can be one of the main reasons website pages take ages to load. Long loading time = bye bye website visitor/potential customer. Some online platforms also have upload limits, for example on Later.com you can only upload images up to 5MB on a free plan.
There are two elements to image size:
- The actual file size
These two elements are linked, to a degree, but you can save high resolution images so they have small file sizes, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
When it comes to the resolution of an image this is usually measured in pixels (px). The more pixels there are per inch (PPI/DPI), the higher the resolution (quality) of the image.
When it comes to uploading images, if you’re using them as a full width banner on your website, you’ll want to consider nothing smaller than 1920px wide, ideally 2400px if you can. For smaller images or thumbnails, images can be much smaller, say 800px or even less if they’ll always be displayed at a small size.
In terms of file size, the smaller you can make the file size without compromising on quality, the better. Smaller files load more quickly and also take up less space on your website server (some hosting is limited by size/capacity). In most instances, the optimum file size for online images is considered to be about 200kb.
There are several ways you can reduce file size without compromising image quality and if you don’t have access to an editing programme like Photoshop, you can install a plug in on your WordPress website, to reduce the size of your images after/during upload. You can always ask your designer for their support with this and they should be happy to help.
The title of your online image is more important than you might think.
Not only is it good housekeeping to name images appropriately but it’s an opportunity to use your keywords.
If you’re adding images to your website, in an ideal world, you want the title of the main image on a webpage to match your H1 page title. This connection creates a strong link between the two and can improve your chance of ranking for your keywords.
If you’re uploading your images to something like Google My Business give them appropriate titles which include some of your keywords.
How you save your image and its format can change its size, load time and quality. JPEG/PNG/WebP, it all matters.
You’ve probably come across the terms PNG and JPEG already, in the course of running your business.
JPEG format allows you to save images with a smaller file size than a PNG. They are therefore great for saving images for uploading to your website, providing you can still get the image quality you desire. JPEGs will always have a solid background colour.
A PNG image will have a larger file size but is lossless – meaning you won’t lose as much detail in the image. They’re also how you should save images that have a transparent background.
There’s also now WebP format. “WebP is an image file format that Google has developed as a replacement for JPEG, PNG, and GIF file formats. WebP yields files that are smaller for the same quality, or of higher quality for the same size. It supports both lossy and lossless compression, as well as animation and alpha transparency.” Source: Google
If you have professional image software you can save images as WebP but as the average business owner doesn’t have that software, in most instances you should save images in JPEG format. Occasionally PNG is better for certain things but your website designer will let you know if they would like anything in PNG format.
4. Alt text
Alt text has several important uses:
- It’s used by those with visual impairments to understand what’s in the image and will be read out by screen reading software
- It tells people what’s in the image and if it fails to load, usually it’s the alt text that will show in its place
- Search engines index the alt text and use it as a factor when deciding on search engine rankings
If your image is purely decorative, alt text isn’t necessary. If the image represents something that would be lost without the image, that’s when you should use it.
When you do use alt text it should be short and clear. The general recommendation is that 125 characters is enough for alt text and will be compatible with most screen reading software.
For more information about alt text, read the free information from RNIB.
To give more in depth information about your images, you should use the image description…
The description is similar to alt text in that it describes what’s in the image but it can be used to give more details.
For example, to describe the same image you might use the following:
Alt text: A framed plaster cast of a baby’s foot
Description: A photograph of a white plaster cast of a baby’s foot which is mounted on a dark grey background and framed in an oak frame. The cast is sitting on top of a light grey marble table.
All of these tips will maximise your content’s potential, make it more accessible and could improve your ranking potential on search engines.