Optimizing Images for SEO

You must optimize, they say. No matter what you do, if you have a website you must optimize your content. You should mind your writing, you should pepper them with keywords and before that you must know what your killer keywords are.

In this entire SEO game, the most challenging aspect is the optimization of visual content. You need to have the right keywords, you need quality content and you need to build links, but what to do with the images? At Pixpa we regularly interact with clients who are photographers, designers and architects. They need to showcase their work and most of their content are visual.

Why bother about image optimization?

This is especially important for portfolio websites. The main content for photographers and other visual artists are the images and illustrations. They are mostly low on text based content and so you must work on the images if you want to be anywhere near the top of the Search Engine Ranking Pages(SERPs) for your chosen keywords.

Why is it challenging to optimize visual content?

To put it simply, the search engines cannot “read” the photographs or illustrations. They can only read the text or the words. So even if you have the best photograph in the world, the search engine spiders cannot possibly understand the value of it. But thankfully there are things that you can do to make the situation a bit better.

So, how to optimize the images for search engines?

Optimization is always an ongoing process and it can be tricky at times. Nevertheless, you can follow the checklist below to be on the safer side :

Choose the image name carefully

Before uploading any image to the website, make sure that you assign a proper name to it. For example, the image files in the camera are generally assigned serial numbers automatically. But you should rename the files to make it easier for the search engines. Use simple English words for the same and you may use relevant keywords as the file names. For example if it is the photograph of a sunrise, it can be called sunrise.jpg which makes far more sense than something like DSC001.jpg.

Do not ignore the Alt Tag

The Alt Tag is the text that shows up in case the image does not load. This is another opportunity to put relevant keywords and so never leave this part empty.  The typical HTML code for the image looks like the following.

The first part is of course the file name as discussed before. The second part is the Alt Tag which you should use judiciously to include a keyword. The last part defines the size of the image. Please note that we are only using this line of code to explain the basic anatomy. Most of the content management systems and web design platforms will make it easier for you to assign such tags in case you are not comfortable with coding.

JPG Vs PNG: Choose the right Image Type

Images nowadays come in various formats and it is also possible to convert certain images from one type to another provided you have the right image processing software. But you must be careful in using images of different formats as various systems are not compatible with certain types. To be on the safer side, use JPEG images for photographic images. It should also be noted that the PNG format is on the heavier side and hence may have a negative impact on the site speed.

Do not forget the Image Size and Quality

Make sure that you resize your images before uploading. Original images produced by a camera are likely to be on the larger and heavier side. But such sizes are neither required nor advisable on the website. Their heavy sizes will only make the site slower and negatively affect its performance.

In fact nowadays resizing is very easy and you can even do it using free software like Picasa. But be careful of not to affect the quality of the images in this process. Ideally a 500×500 image serves most of the purposes on the websites.

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