Are you taking enough care with the images you’re putting on your clients’ websites? You may think graphics are the sole concern of designers, but the fact is that image optimisation is also a key part of SEO.
Done well, images can help attract traffic to a site through both general search and Google image search. Plus, they can keep the visitor on the site longer and reduce bounce rate.
Image Optimisation Guidelines
When it comes to choosing image formats, your main options are jpeg, gif and png. In general, jpegs are your best bet overall. Gifs are best for thumbnails and decoration, and pngs are a good alternative to either.
Getting good rankings in Google image search depends on choosing appropriate filename and tags. When the spiders crawl your site, they index text found in image names.
The first and most obvious thing to do is to include your target key-phrase in the filename. You should be as specific as possible and use product model or serial numbers. A name such as samsungblueray6009x.jpg is much more appropriate than dvdplayer.jpg.
In addition, you need to specify your main keyphrase in the ALT tags. This works to associate keywords with your images and help your site show up in a Google image and web search.
However, it’s not advisable to optimise those images you add to the page simply for decoration. Adding your target keywords to a general image smacks of spamming.
Another effective option is to create meaningful captions for your images. Other than providing SEO benefits, it also helps your visitors better understand the content of the image and the meaning of your content. Anything that informs your reader is worthwhile.
Size Does Matter
The other way image optimisation can help with SEO is by speeding up page load times. Matt Cutts has frequently mentioned Google considers page load speed to be a ranking factor. You can do a lot to minimise graphic size without compromising quality.
Don’t keep the image as it is and reduce the visible size via css. Your aim is to get the page loading as quickly as possible. Your average visitor is impatient and won’t wait much more than three seconds for a page to load. To best achieve this, try to keep your image size to a maximum of 70kb.
If the quality of the image is important, you could include a smaller version and link to a higher resolution version via pop-up or link to another page.
It’s time to stop thinking of images as some kind of embellishment and recognise they’re an integral part of content. For that reason, they need to be relevant and authoritative just like the written word.