images seo optimization

Using relevant, high quality images on your website is an important part of creating a pleasing user experience (UX). But your website images are so much more than just an attractive way to engage with your visitors.

Not only can a good image help you to sell your products, but an optimized image can also help your website to get found in the highly competitive world of online stores.

If you are not optimizing your images for SEO, then you are wasting an important opportunity to improve your rankings and get found online.

How to use your images to improve your SEO

We are going to look at some simple, yet effective ways that you can use your web images to improve your rankings, generate better web traffic and ultimately increase your sales.

We will look at:

  • Relevant Images
  • SEO Naming Conventions
  • Alt Tags and Title Tags
  • Image Load Time
  • Image Site Maps

Use Relevant Images

Make sure the images you choose are relevant to your topic, or to whatever it is that you are selling. Your product images need to help you sell by showing the visitor what you are selling, and there are great ways to take good product images {link to product images article}, even if you are doing them yourself.

imaages on website

But they perform another important function, too. They also help the visitor to decide if they should click on your website. If your images are optimised, pictures of your product can be referenced by search engines any time that someone searches those keywords.

But it’s not only your product images that need to be relevant. Any lifestyle images or other images on your website should also be relevant to what your store is about.

SEO Naming Conventions

Did you know that web crawlers crawl image text and file names, as well as the words on your website? Time to put that information to good use.

The first rule of thumb is to name your images before you upload them.

image alt description

Give your image files names that describe the product and use plain English. For example, if you were selling Shooting Star moisturizing cream, you would name the image of the cream something like “Shooting star anti-wrinkle moisturizing cream 200ml”.

You have now added a searchable keyword phrase into your image. This gives Google an additional reference point for your store when someone searches for anti-wrinkle moisturizing cream.

Make the most out of your ALT tags

Image ALT tags are there to provide alternative text in the instance that someone’s browser doesn’t want to display or render the image.

It tells the viewer what they should be seeing.

alt text

ALT tags also tell search engines what they are seeing. Because search engines can’t actually “see” images, they have to rely on the text that you add to them. In other words, it’s another opportunity for your images to improve the SEO of your webpage.

Use straight-forward, descriptive text in your ALT tags, and make sure to include the relevant keywords for the image.

If someone is doing an image search in Google, your ALT tags are the best way to get referenced and rank for your keywords.

In much the same way, you should also add descriptive Image captions.

Optimize your Image Load Time

The average consumer will wait three seconds for an image to load on a PC, and about 5 seconds on their mobile. After that, they click away.

If you’re images are too large, they will take a long time to load, slow down your website, and cost you sales.

Amazon recently found that if their image load time slows by 1 second they lose $1.6 billion a year. Now Amazon is a big company, so their numbers will be higher than most, but it still bears thinking about.

seo image optimising

What’s more, is that Google actually references image load times when working out rankings. So, if your site is packed with slow, oversized images, it will lower your rankings, and the visitors who do find you are more likely to leave without converting!

Make sure that your images are saved for web. The recommended image size for web is 70kb. The recommended image format is JPEG.

If your page still takes long to load, try reducing the number of images on the page. This could mean you display only nine images at a time instead of eighteen, but if your pages load quickly the visitor is more likely to click through to the next page, anyway.

Use an Image Sitemap

One of the best ways to get your images noticed by Google is to use an image sitemap.

Web crawlers can only crawl images that are called out in the webpage source code. What a sitemap does is list your images and their location on your website, so that Google can quickly decide if they are relevant to a search.

Google Sitemaps offer you extensions where you can add more information about your images. Doing this gives you the best chance of being found through the search engine.

As most of the connected world favours Google as their primary search engine, it is worthwhile making sure that Google knows as much about your products and images as possible.

You can find sitemaps, along with plenty pf other great tools, in Google Webmaster Tools.

The best part is, it’s very user friendly. All you need to do is go in and follow the steps laid out for you by Google.

Use common Sense

If something looks off to you, it probably is.

It’s important to be conscious of following the SEO guidelines, but Google also favours those websites that read naturally. Your keywords should never be forced.

Always remember that your website is built to accommodate real people. Google has developed the ability to decide whether a pare reads well for humans. It also “observes” how visitors react to your webpages, and takes its ques from them.