Good on-site search engine optimization (SEO) is a necessity if you want to have a successful blog or website. To get organic traffic from search engines, you need to optimize your website for keywords related to your niche. Images are often forgotten when optimizing websites for good on-site SEO and they shouldn't be overlooked.
Well optimized images can help with your overall search engine ranking position (SERP) and they can even bring traffic as they appear in image searches on search engines. You should be optimizing your images for SEO just like any other part of your website, and this article will show you exactly how to do it.
Fast website loading times are important for a couple of reasons. First, if a website loads slowly, the visitor is likely to click the back button and go to the next website. Second, Google acknowledges that page speed is a ranking factor for their search engine.
Therefore, it's important that you prepare your images to be the lowest file size possible while retaining the quality desired for your website. You have to find what works best for you in terms of file size and image quality. Obviously, the smaller the image, the faster it loads. So keep image files as small as you can.
If you are using an image and the size you require is 200 pixels by 200 pixels, then you should crop and resize your image the size required. Don't upload an image which is 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels and then use HTML to resize it because the browser still has to download a large file. It would be better if you uploaded the size that you require to keep the file size as small as possible.
Moreover, you can also compress images to save even more data transfer. If you do a Google search for "Compress Images for web", you'll find a number of free services which can do this for you. If you are using WordPress to build your website, there are a number of plugins which can compress images. WP Smush is one of the most popular image compressing plugins and it's available for free.
Computers aren't very good at looking at photos and understanding what they are about. For this reason, we have to give search engines a helping hand and tell then what the images shows. Here lies an opportunity to add your keywords or a variation of your keywords.
In most cases, images from your camera will be saved using a filename that's mainly a sequence number. This isn't that helpful for both people and computers, so it would be much better to give the file a name that accurately describes what the image is about. Use your keyword or a variation of your keyword for the filename.
If there is some reason why the image can't be displayed, then the "alt text" will show in its place. Again, this is the perfect opportunity to add some keywords. On top of this, you can add combinations of your keywords in the title text, image description and even in a caption underneath the image.
You need to consider the density of your keywords too. If you are using your keywords too much, you could get an over-optimization penalty and it could do you more harm than good.
Having your website shared on social media can also have a positive impact on your SERPs. Therefore, you should optimize your website to display the correct image when your visitors like, share or tweet your images across social media.
In the <head> section of your HTML file, you should add OpenGraph mark-up to tell social media websites such as Facebook and Pinterest which image they should use for sharing. The code you will need is:
<meta property="og:image" content="link_to_image_location.jpg" />
This will lead to more social signals and, in turn, higher SERPs.
Twitter also has specific mark-up, but it doesn't use the OpenGraph method. Instead, it uses Twitter Cards, which you should also include in your code.
Image XML Sitemap
It's good SEO practice to use an XML sitemap which tells the search engines exactly what content you have on your website. You can also put your images in the XML sitemap alongside your pages and posts, or you can include a separate sitemap for only your images.
Either method is fine, so the method you use depends on what works for you and your website.
Google clearly states that sitemaps are an integral part of a website and they further specify that images should be included on your sitemaps. There is no reason that you shouldn't be doing this to improve your on-site SEO.
Images are an important part of any website, and it's important that they are fully optimized to help improve your website's rankings in the search engines. You want to make sure that you choose relevant images, and optimize them to load quickly. After this, you can focus in getting a combination of your keywords into the alt and title text, image description and the caption. Don't overuse your keywords, otherwise you may face an over-optimization penalty.
Then, tell social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, which image should be included when people like, share, and post your content. This will lead to more social signals, which will help to get more traffic to your website or blog.
Finally, tell search engines exactly what content you want listed by adding images to your existing XML sitemap or by creating a new XML sitemap for your images.