Images don’t just help to make a blog post or a website attractive, they drive search engine rankings as well. That is because articles with images get 94% more views, and 60% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business owner when an image shows up in the search results.
Optimizing images is tricky business; there are multiple factors that have to be taken into account to ensure that the picture not only captures attention of the user, but also helps you score a brownie point from Google.
Do stock photos negatively affect search engine rankings?’ The answer for the moment seems an emphatic ‘no’. But I’d think it depends on the circumstances where you’re using the image. For instance, online retailers who use stock photos or copy paste the manufacturer’s product photos stand to lose out in terms of image search. With multiple images of the same product, it is obvious that photos of your products may not stand a chance. Excellent images and graphics play an important role to influence conversions for ecommerce websites.
For instance, the image above is from www.fabfurnish.com . Note how the seller has put up different angles of the same product. As a buyer, you’d definitely want to take a good look before spending Rs. 6000 on a bench. Low quality images sent by the manufacturer won’t help to sell. www.conranshop.co.uk is another good site for reference.
If you are using photos to complement an article or a blog post, stock photos don’t matter much, but try and use images that seem genuine. Needless to say, images must be relevant to the topic discussed and should be used to emphasize your point.
An average customer waits for no more than 3 seconds for an image to load- more than that and he moves on to another website! The size of your image may or may not necessarily affect search ranking, but it definitely affects page speed, which we all know is a major ranking factor for Google. Images can impact load time; reduce the file size as well as the image size to optimize the image for SEO. The idea is to present the image in the smallest size possible without compromising on the aesthetic aspect. So, if you have an image with a pixel size of 2500 x 1500, it doesn’t matter if the image loaded is at 250×150 pixels because the entire image will still have to be loaded. You may have to scale it the smallest size possible. As for reducing the file size to the smallest size possible, there are several tools that could help you. ImageOptim, JPEGMini are some examples.
It helps to give Google as much information as you can about an image. You may want to tell those bots what the image is about by naming your file appropriately. Too many developers end up naming files with default names provided by their camera. Thus, a file with an image of a 2015 Red Ford Mustang (red and black are the most preferred colors says Autoblog) should be named as such and not as DSC7698.png. File names should include keywords as well.
The text that’s displayed when you hover your mouse over an image is its alt text. These serve as an alternative text when an image isn’t rendered by the browser. Even when the image is rendered, the alt text helps to add SEO value. They should be keyword optimized, but only when the image is relevant to the keyword use. Otherwise, you could be penalized for over optimization. Speaking of captions, these are often used with images connected to an article/blog. Ever wondered, why newspapers always mention a caption below an image? That’s because, a caption gets read every time- even more than body copy. Wonder why website developers fail to get this?
We’ve pretty much covered the basics, except for a few things like the title tag or using images in XML site maps. Image optimization isn’t a one day job; it takes time and effort. You could begin the task with the above mentioned points and then proceed towards other elements after carefully assessing the impact of your changes on search rankings