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SEO | How to Optimize Images

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optimize images for more moneyImages are big assets for any websites, especially for online ecommerce. Imagine people found a beautiful image through Google’s image-based search engine, or from Facebook, Pinterest and Google+, they followed the link and come to your webpage. That’s much-needed traffic an image can generate for a website.

Images not only play an important role for traffic building, offer a visual-pleasant experience to visitors when they browse your website, but also have SEO impact to your website.

1. Change the file size to optimize images

Do you know images can seriously slow down a website’s loading time?

And this is bad, really bad in nowadays, when visitors are very impatient to wait for a site to load. According to Google’s engineers’ discovery: waiting for the blink of an eye is too long for many people and cause them to move to a competitor’s site.

Because of this hunger for speed in people’s subconsciousness, Google and search engines alike take loading time as an important factor in their ranking algorithm.
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Although loading time can depend on many factors, but images could be a huge contributor. It is important to optimize images to turn them from a traffic loss factor into a traffic building factor.

For an image to load, the bigger the file size the longer time it takes. So this is very straightforward: Reduce your image file size as much as possible without compromising the quality of your images.

For most ecommerce websites, for example, there are a lot of products image displays, if the images are too big, you can expect slower loading time and more visitor loss; on the other hand, if the images are too small, visitors to your site will suffer bad experience. Therefore, it is an art to find the balance between the size of image files and the quality of the images.

Ecommerce owners who use Shopify as their online store hosting provider has an advantage over others on this, since Shopify automatically compress all images to optimize them for best loading time. If you run an ecommerce on a self-hosted site through Bigcommerce or Volusion, you need to know how to compress an image to optimize it for better result.

There are other online photo editing tools at your disposal, such as Picmonkey, pixlr, fotoflexer, smash it from Yahoo and imageOptim.

2.Use keywords to optimize images

We all know the importance of keywords when it comes to SEO, it is equally important to use proper keywords in your images file names.

Very often file names are automatically created using numbers and letters, in this case, you should rename the file name using indicative keywords related to the image content to help search engine understand the concept of your images. This could not only help your webpage to rank higher for the keywords you target, bus also help visitors to understand your webpage content because Google can alternatively use image file names as the image’s snippet in search results.

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3.Use Alt tag to optimize images

Images are easy to understand by just looking at it, but unfortunately, search engines don’t have the same human eyes. Similar to using keywords in image file names, you should add alt=”descriptive keywords phrase” to each of your image on the site. This is to help Google to “read” the images. In case the images couldn’t show up on your site for some reason, visitors to your site can still understand there should be an image relating to the keywords phrase in the place. For more info on Alt tag, click here.

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However, if you have a lot of thumbnail images on your site, which is true for most ecommerce websites, you may choose to not let Google index your thumbnails and leave alt tag blank: alt=””.

There are good reasons behind this:

If you have a lot of thumbnail images, the cumulative file size will have negative impact on your loading time. When you try to reduce your thumbnail file sizes, your image quality may sacrifice. In these case, you would rather to let Google only “see” your large quality images instead of accidentally only show visitors your thumbnail images. So a smart way to do is to leave alt tag blank for thumbnails, so that Google only pick up eye-catching larger images when keywords are searched.
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 4. Use descriptive anchor text to optimize images

If you need to link to an image on your site, make sure to use anchor text including descriptive keywords phrases that relevant to the image. This will benefit visitors to your site as well as further help search engines to digest your image content.

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5. Submit image sitemaps to Google

Google image sitemaps can help Google find your images, it is especially true when you have a lot of image pop-ups or animated images.

Although there is no guarantee that Google will index all images included in your image sitemaps, you can however tell Google what are important images on your site. To increase your chance, you can use Google’s image extensions for sitemaps to describe your images in more details, to help Google identify your images when the keywords query are used.

 

All these tips to optimize images won’t take a whole lot of time to apply. It is a matter of habit. Whenever downloading an image, be sure to check the size and add in keywords.

In addition to all your other SEO efforts, image optimization could be the “icing on the cake” to maximize the result.

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