Image Optimization & SEO For Photos

REW Melissa posted this - 2,336 Views

If you're looking for ways to supplement your SEO strategy, it's time to consider image optimization! Images are a vital addition to any page, but not everyone is aware that they present often untapped opportunities for SEO. Taking advantage of the extensive possibilities that image optimization delivers can boost an already strong SEO strategy. Not sure where to start? We've consolidated some of the most important ways to make your images as search engine and user-friendly as possible!

Alt Tags

image optimization for seoTo begin explaining why image optimization is important, it's necessary to look at your website from a search engine's point of view. You may have a visually rich design loaded with eye-catching photos, but search engines aren't able to process these well (yet). To enlighten the search engine to the presence of relevant images, we use the alt tag, which serves as a text-based alternative to an image.

This alternate text comes in handy in a couple situations:

  • It's shown when, for whatever reason, the image can't be displayed.
  • It can be read by screen-readers for users with impaired vision.

Plus, alt tags can aid a search engine in crawling the page and in creating associations between photos and keywords. This is where the SEO benefit really comes into play, allowing you to leverage your photos to reinforce target keywords.

Ensure your alt tags are less than 125 characters and that they contain pertinent, optimized sentences that include target keywords. But don't overuse alt text. Since alt text is a descriptor, it should only be used on images relevant to the page's content. If you start padding all your graphics with keywords, your site could be penalized. Instead, simply leave your alt tag blank (alt="") on decorative images. Decorative images include spacers, bullets, ornate lines, or any graphic whose function is simply design. As always with SEO, there is a happy medium.

Title Tags

Title tags are another way to enhance your image. While they don't have any direct SEO benefits, they can make a site look more technical and polished. Plus, since visitors often expect these, they ultimately contribute to overall user experience—the cornerstone of every SEO strategy. Title tags consist of the text you see when you hover your mouse over an image. They should also contain descriptive text to expand on the contents of the photo. Like alt tags, title tags should remain short and sweet. In fact they're very similar to alt tags; the only difference is that alt-tags benefit crawlers, while title tags are simply a "plus" for users.

File Names

Naming your image file appropriately is another way to emphasize what the content on your page is about and show that the image is relevant. When you upload an image from your camera or from another source, there's a good chance that its current filename comprises a slew of muddled numbers and letters. Clean this up by renaming your file for relevancy. For example, if your photo is of your team, you might rename it to springfield-realty-team.jpg. Ensure that you forego spaces, underscores, and upper case letters when naming files. Instead use lower case letters, and connect words with hyphens.

Image Size

Image size is a huge factor because image size correlates with page speed, and page speed can affect your rankings. Rankings aside, a page with slow-loading images can often be enough to cause fickle users to exit your page. In a notable experiment, Google discovered that they could lose up to 8 million searches per day by displaying their results four tenths of a second more slowly than usual.

If you're using a Mac, you can easily re-size images using Preview. In Windows, utilize Photo Gallery or Microsoft Paint. You can also browse online and take advantage of the many web-based editing tools at your disposal.

When considering size, it's important to not forget about shareability. For important images on blog posts or highly shared pages, ensure that your photo will look good across social platforms. While the different size recommendations for each outlet can be confusing, you can find a sweet spot that will render well across the board—simply test your image on each site while you work with it. 

Image Compression

Image compression serves to retain the dimensions of your photo while minimizing the storage size. Compressing your images can save bytes of data and smoothen loading. There are plenty of (free) tools across the web which can resize and compress your photos without compromising their quality—try or to start. You can also use Google PageSpeed Insights to identify problem images and uncover the items causing your page to load slowly.

File Type

As a general rule of thumb, stick to JPEG and PNG file types only. JPEGs are generally a superior file format due to their capability for substantial compression while retaining resolution. Typically, GIFs are meant for animated or moving images, while PNGs support transparency best. Each file format has its respective strengths and weaknesses. However, make sure to assess file formats on a case-by-case basis.

Image optimization is a great way to enhance your site's overall SEO and loading speed. But the best thing about image optimization is that it's fast and easy way to improve. Once you get the hang of it, all of the above steps should only take a few minutes to complete. Happy optimizing!

Posted In SEO 101


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susan gunnin

when loading an image onto my REW blog, I resize it once it's in the blog, using the REW tool image size. I usually use 475x375. Is this an acceptable size for what google is looking for? Is it ok to resize this way, instead of resizing b4 I load?

When loading an image into blog, where do I find the option for an alt tag and title tag?

REW Melissa

Hi Susan,

Great questions! Resizing images within the blog is okay, as long as the original image was compressed beforehand and is fairly similar in size.

The alt tag can be set using the "Image Description" field in the Image Uploader on the site. Alternatively, both the alt tag and title tag can also be coded using the HTML view. If you need help updating these tags, please feel free to call our Support team at 1-877-753-9893 and they'll be happy to walk you through the steps!

susan gunnin

Thanks for follow-up. I have never compressed a photo and am reading various ideas and options online, regarding photo compression. Can you make a recommendation for the quickest/easiest/best tool to use for image compression? I'm working on a PC. I have been using photos that are 2 MB and then resizing with the 'edit image' option - based on your last comment, is my original size of 2 MB too large before I resize? The down-sized photos looks fine in the blog, but are my photos loading too slowly on some computers?

susan gunnin

I have not been using alt tags and title tags for my blog photos - is it worth my time to go back to those old photos and add the tags?

REW Melissa

Hello Susan, and are two very popular choices for image compression!

While resizing and compression both reduce file sizes, I recommend doing both on every image; resize and then compress. Those large file sizes are definitely causing your slow loads! We want to reduce the 2MB images down and get them under 400 kb (at the very largest). Resizing, compressing and using jpg file formats can easily get your blog post images under 200 kb.

Whether you apply tags to previously uploaded images is entirely up to you. Image tags are only one small piece of a much larger SEO puzzle, and aren't likely to "make or break" a page or post. I would definitely apply them going forward, but it may not be worth your time to apply the changes retroactively.

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