Image optimization is one of the most common and important practices when it comes to SEO. That’s because speed is a great factor when it comes to ranking your pages with Google. And that’s even more true now that Google is transitioning to 100% mobile-first crawling.
But how exactly do you optimize your images? Is there an easy way to do it? And is it actually worth it to spend the time doing it? Let’s answer these and more questions below!
Which Images Need To Be Optimized?
Before you begin the process of optimization, it’s important to see which images actually need to be optimized. For example, you want to make sure you’re only spending your time where it matters and not wasting it on less important pages. This will allow you to focus on even more SEO optimizations and improve your website rankings faster.
To check which images need to be optimized, you need to use an SEO tool. To do that, you can use one of the known SEO tools like Ahrefs. But for the purposes of this example, we’ve picked an alternative tool which is cheaper than Ahrefs called Morningscore. Let’s see how you can find which images need to be optimized.
- Firstly, make an account in the tool by entering your website
- The tool will now crawl your entire site and find your most impactful pages in Google
- Here, navigate to “Tools” -> “Health”
- In this overview, you will see a list of website issues which you can work on
Now that you know where to find the problems, let’s see what image optimizations you should be doing – and which problems they correspond to.
1. Optimize Image Size
Image size is one of the first things you should handle when it comes to SEO. Google recommends keeping the size of your images lower than 150kb because these images can be downloaded and processed fast also by mobile users. This is the easier way to make your website faster and user experience better.
There are several ways you can optimize your images.
For example, the first way to do that is to do it through a website that optimizes images when you upload them to it. There are many platforms that do that but one of the most famous one is called TinyPNG.
Alternatively, if you’re using one of the most popular content management systems, you can also find plugins that automatically compress your images.
You can, of course, optimize all of the images on your site – because Google also looks at how good your website is in general and not just individual pages.
However, some websites might have a very large number of images making it inefficient to check and fix each and every one of them individually. In those cases, it is best that you explore your options for optimizing the images in bulk.
For example, if you’re running a wordpress site, it’s probably best that you use a plugin to handle all of your images at once.
2. Optimize Image Titles & File Names
While not huge, image names also play a role in the SEO process – specifically image SEO. That’s because among it’s not unreasonable to expect that other things, Google uses the name of the files to actually understand and classify them. If you have a vague file name with random numbers and letters, it will make a lot less sense to Google rather than having one that explains the image in the title.
3. Write Alt Tags To Important Images
One of the most important steps in optimizing your images is to add alt tags to them in your CMS. Also known as alternative text, alt tags are a short string of text that both search engines use to understand the image and screen readers for blind visitors read out aloud.
When Google looks at your page, it cannot “see and image”. Instead, it sees the code and tries to decode what’s shown on it. By adding alt tags, you give Google directions on how to understand the image it encounters. Additionally, if something goes wrong and the image cannot be displayed (for example, for users who have disabled images or have a slow internet connection, or the image has been taken down but still linked in the code), Google will display the alt tag that image has instead to explain to the user what is supposed to be shown on this spot of the web page.
4. Deliver Images Through A CDN
This step is a bit more complex compared to the rest. The idea is that you host your images on a website that’s different from your domain and server. This way, when someone wants to connect to your page, your server can handle all the HTML requests and deliver the content much faster. That’s because to get the images the browser will make separate requests to another server where you host your other website. This way, you’re putting less load on your main server and this can help you rank higher since your page will load faster.
Now that you know what problems to look for and where to find them, it’s time to optimize your site. Using the Morningscore tool mentioned above, you can simply open each problem and see the pages it appears on.
For example, say we take the “Alt tags missing” problem. We can either open that very problem in the “General Health” tab and see a list of all images missing the alt tags (and the pages they are displayed on) or go to the “Landing Pages” tab and see whether our important pages have any of the problems we listed.
In a nutshell, that is all there is to it. Happy optimizing!