You post images to your website all the time, but are you optimizing the images to help your SEO ranking?
It's important to not only use images on your website, but to name and size them correctly, and then tell Google via the ALT text and captions just what the image is about so it knows how to share it with others.
Whether those images are from your iPhone, from a photographer you've worked with or your own camera, the images come with a generic image name like DSC_2343.jpg straight out of the camera.
Images named like this are not helpful to you as a business owner, especially if you are using them on your website or blog.
So how do you optimize your images so they are best for your website and SEO?
1) Rename the images using descriptive keywords that relate to the page you are posting it to.
If you do this and this alone, you will greatly help your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts.
How do you choose what the descriptive keyword you should use when renaming your images for a post? It depends on where you are posting the image on your website. You could use the same exact image on your website's main page and then reuse it on your blog, but you'd want to rename the image to be relevant to the page you are posting it to.
Rename your image to that the name relates to the keyword you want to rank for on that specific page.
When renaming, use dashes - for spaces so that Google sees the different words.
I rename the images I am using as a copy on my computer that is named and sized for the use I have for it, always making a duplicate of my original image so not to degrade the original size or quality (so I can use it again for another purpose later).
You can batch rename your files on a mac easily. Read this article for step by step instructions
2) Use an optimized and correctly sized JPG image.
JPGs are the best choice for your website images as they will look the best while having the smallest file size options. The other common option you'll see is a PNG, especially used if there are any transparent parts of the image, as JPGs don't show transparency.
You want the file size to be correct for your use so that your website loads quickly. The larger the image, the slower your website loads and you'll not only lose the attention of your visitor, but Google will also ding your site and lower your ranking.
Google cares a lot about your user experience (UE) and long wait times make for a bad UE!
If you are on a Mac, you can batch resize your images to a web resolution via the preview app. This article will give you the step by step instructions on how to do that.
When you are saving your image and ready for upload, it's recomended that the image size is 500K or smaller.
Personally, as a image driven site, I find this hard to do as many times the quality gets lowered and I don't like the way it looks when the file size is that lowered. So, I, personally will compromise and have a 600-700kb photo uploaded knowing that I am sacrificing my load time a little bit, but making my User Experience better. IMO that is a worthwhile trade off for my website. But that is a decision you have to make for your own website.
3) Use the Alt Text
Alt text is another big way that Google grades what is on your website and what your images are about.
If you want your images to show up in Google Images, or say a specific thing when someone Pins them, you want to add alt text to the image.
Alt text is what tells the viewer what is in the image if for some reason the image doesn't load on the website. It helps people who are visually impaired use your website, and, seeing that Google bots are computers and don't have eyes, the Google bots use a combo of your image name, Alt text and caption to be able to decipher what your image is about and who it may be relevant to.
So, if you upload an image to your website and the name is DSC2343.jpg and you leave it at that, then, in the eyes of Google, it's got no idea what that image is, it passes it by, and the only way anyone will find value from it is if they land on the exact page you posted it to.
Since Alt text is added in different ways depending on the website platform you use, I suggest Googling the phrase "How to add Alt text to an image in [add your website platform here]" to get a step by step direction. It's usually very straight forward.
Okay, so you know that you need alt text, but what is the best thing to say in the alt text?
I suggest that you use full sentences and input your chosen keyword (as every page should have a unique keyword that you are optimizing for), or a variation of it in the sentence. Make sure it's readible so when a human reads it, they will know what is in it, and the more descriptions you give, the more you tell Google what it is and Google will know what to do with it!
But avoid keyword stuffing as Google is smarter than that and will ding you for it.
4) Use the Caption
Captions can be greatly underused as, it is again another way the Google "reads" your image so that it knows what it is about.
You can give a long and detailed description in your caption of not only what the image is about, but how it relates to the information in your post, this is great.
While text is many times skimmed in a post, the captions are usually read fully, so feel free to input some of the important details about your post in the caption, as long as it relates to the photo as well.
This is another time where you want to use the keyword that you want to rank for within the text of the caption. It will help Google understand the image, and as we've learned, that is important to SEO and ranking to optimize your images.
If you want the value of the caption, but don't like the look of the caption under you image, many website platforms will allow you to hide the caption from view. So it's there and helping Google, but isn't visible to the reader.
If you have a lot of images in a post (as I tend to) this can be great as to not clutter up the post and confuse.
Examples of how to optimize your website Images
Let's say I have a lifestyle / home decor blog and I am going to do a post about bathroom design ideas.
I've decided that my main overarching idea and keyword for this post is "bathroom design ideas"
First I will look through my images to find any good bathroom images I have.
The image on my computer will likely be called something like stock-bathroom-master.jpg
I've named the image for myself this way so I know it's a stock image of a bathroom, and this is my master image. Meaning it's retouched and full size.
I will choose to make a copy and resize the image to a web resolution. Exact size is dependent on your specific blog, but for this lets say it's 1200px long. (you can resize via Mac Preview)
I will then rename the copied image to "Bathroom-design-ideas-1.jpg" and keep it in a folder that specifies it's a web sized image (so I don't try and use it for print later on).
I will upload that image to my website and add
ALT text: Home bathroom design idea with spa tub, basket of towels next to bath, calming candles by bath and beige artwork on walls, to inspire your next home decor project.
You see how I used the keyword, kept it readable for a human while also adding in other related type of keywords like "home decor project".
Caption: "Bathroom design ideas using white tile, vintage candles and beige colors for inspiration.
The caption and the Alt text are similar, but you don't want them to be duplicated.
Some websites (like Squarespace) don't give a specific alt text input spot though, and when there is no ALT text option, then the caption becomes your ALT text.
The key thing to walk away from is that you need to use the images on your site as a helping hand for not only your use experience but also your Google bot experience so that your website ranks higher, your images show up in Google Image Search and also the right info gets added to the details when someone Pins your post.
So, as a review
Rename images for the specific use of the post you are making. Make it relevent to the searcher and not to the internals of the company.
Resize your images for web uses. Large images take too long to load which will drive humans away and make the bots lower your ranking
Use ALT text to describe the image. Imagine you are explaining it to a visually impaired friend.
Use Captions to relate your image back to your keyword and also what your post is about. Keep in mind that sometimes your Caption acts like your ALT text when an ALT text option is not given.
Be smart and give your assistant the task of reviewing your website and updating for these points here. You can change how Google sees your site and help your ranking, but you, as the business owner should not spend your time doing this. Delegate and spend your time in areas that are a better use of your time!
Now you know how to optimize your website images for SEO and Pinterest!
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