There are dozens of different ways to make your articles easier to read online; lots of smaller paragraphs, shorter sentences, big headings and smaller sub-headings and even the occasional gif from South Park or The Simpsons. One of the simplest and most effective ways of making your content look more attractive, to both online viewers and search engines, is to include a couple of great images to support your content.
Another great advantage that few people seem to pick up on when it comes to images, however, is that they can also bring in organic traffic of their own thanks to Google (and other search engines’ image search).
In order for this to be truly effective, however, and for your images to support your overall SEO efforts, they need to be optimised. It can be fairly time consuming, so for the best results we’d recommend making the most of the best SEO agency services in the UK.
8 Tips For Optimising Your Image Use For Search Engine Optimisation
1. Choose The Right Type Of Image – There are many different kinds of images which can complement your written content. Photographs, infographics, graphs and tables are all great ideas, although they aren’t all suitable for every kind of content. You need to put at least as much thought into the images you use as the content itself, as a poor visual choice can deter readers or even attract irrelevant readers, which is almost as bad.
There are a range of different image types which can be great to support all kinds of content, including:
- Photographs – Photographs that you have taken yourself, or have been taken specifically for your content, are always a great idea, particularly when it comes to creating a header image (or a featured image). Complementing these with an overprint of your content title can really reinforce the idea that your image has been taken especially for your article.
Real photographs can also be a great way to add unique character and personality to your content, and help to build a connection with your audience.
- Infographics – Although they are rarely usable as a featured image, infographics are a fantastic addition to any online content. They are an engaging, shareable and practical way presenting simple facts, particularly statistics.
- Graphs & Tables – Still a popular choice and a practical way of representing information, these images aren’t quite as shareable, or as engaging, but they are a truly practical method of sharing information.
2. Choose Relevant Images – It can be tempting just to attach any cool-looking picture that you might have taken to your next blog post, but you need to make sure that you’re using the most relevant images for the most relevant content – otherwise, your content can end up looking disjointed and confusing.
Aside from that, you will attract users who might be interested in the image, but not in the content itself. You aren’t just desperately trying to attract any kind of viewer – you want relevant visitors who are likely to connect or engage with your business.
Your images need to be of good quality. Remember that they aren’t they to distract from content but are designed, instead, to add to it.
3. Never, Ever, Ever Use Stock-Photos! – Stock-photos are the worst. They take all the uniqueness and personality out of your website. When you use stock photos, you are taking the personality out of your website and suggesting to the reader that your online presence is nothing more than a marketing brochure. Your content is there to provide real, relevant information and encourage your user to trust you.
If your business is presenting stock images as an actual representation of your business, then your potential customers are more likely to think that you are faking your online personality.
Not only can they really damage your business’ personality, they can end up costing you a hell of a lot – even if you think they’re free. If you use an image without the proper accreditation, then you could be facing a hefty invoice further down the line.
Stop paying for stock photos. You’re better off either:
- Taking your own photos for free;
- Paying a professional photographer;
You should be creating your own graphs, charts and other visual designs as well.
4. Free Image Resources – It is a sad fact that very few of us actually have the time to create our own images when we focus so much of our efforts on other kinds of content. Fortunately, there are plenty of free, simple to use resources online to help you find some alright images. They aren’t going to be as good as images you’ve taken yourself, but they can be extremely useful in a bind.
- Flickr – One of the most useful resources for those strapped for time, Flickr can be a great way to find relevant images to act as featured or header images. It is absolutely essential that you choose images which are labelled as “creative commons”. It’s an alternative to full copyright of an image; you just need to make sure that you give full credit and link to the Flickr user who took the photo.
- Google Image Search – When you search for an image, you can easily filter out any images which have copyright attached. Just make sure you have the “labelled for reuse” selected. You won’t always find great images here, but there may be something interesting and a little quirky that no one’s used before.
- Unsplash – Unsplash images are all copyright free, you only need to credit the photographer, and link to their page. Sometimes they’ll border on the “stock-photo” quality, but they are all great images which can be an excellent addition to your content.
- Other Images Sources – Although these three are some of our favourite, there a range of other solutions to finding the perfect image for your needs, including:
o Gif Grabber;
o Awesome Screenshot;
5. Optimising Your Images – Once you’ve managed to find your ideal image, then you’re ready to upload it to your site. However, you can’t afford to forget to optimise it before you make it live. There are a range of different ways you can do this, including;
- Optimising Image Size;
- File/Title Name;
- Effective Alt Tags;
- Description And On-Page Caption;
If you neglect to effectively optimise your images, then you could not only be ignoring a potential boost to your rankings, but severely reducing the advantages that images can provide.
- Optimising Your Image Size – You’ll definitely want to make sure that your image is not a massive file. It’s extremely easy to include massive images, particularly if you take them with a high-quality camera. Most iPhone images, for example, can be in excess of 3,000 pixels wide – most of the time, you’re only going to need an image of 500 pixels wide.
These larger images can really cause the load time of your page to drag, and directly affect your rankings on search engines. You can use Photoshop, if you have it, or even just MS paint.
- File/Title Name – Before you upload the image, make sure that you give it an accurate file name. They are often assigned a generic name as soon as they’re taken – something like IMG_1224 or DSOE6_453. Renaming this file to something relevant may not necessarily help your SEO, but it can make it much easier to find in your CMS and on your PC.
In many websites, the file name will be automatically used as the title, which can hurt SEO in the long run.
- Image Alt Tags/Text – Google and other search engines can’t see your images, exactly, but they can read them. They read the alt-text to understand what your image is about.
Your alt-text should be clear, descriptive, concise and never overly stuffed with keywords. Alt-tags are also used by screen reader software to describe images to people with visual impairments.
For the best results, imagine you are describing the image to someone that can’t see it. Keep it simple and keep it accurate!
- Image Description & Caption – In certain CMSs, including WordPress, you will be able to add descriptions and captions as well as the other image information. They don’t, necessarily, add anything in terms of SEO, but they can provide a range of other useful features.
The description box can be used to provide a lot of extra detail that you couldn’t fit in the alt-text box. You could explain how, when, where or why the picture was taken, along with any editing that you performed on the image afterwards.
The caption will actually show up on-page, beneath the attached image. It’s up to you whether you use it or not, but it can be helpful to describe or comment on the image itself. They can also be a great place to express your personality through humour without negatively impacting the content of the page.
6. Know How To Handle Your Thumbnails – A lot of eCommerce solutions will utilise thumbnails to create great category pages. Many other kinds of website will use them for similar affect, such as many modern blog templates.
Thumbnails are great, but you need to be careful when using them too much; they can really drag down your page loading times. Usually presented in a critical step during the shopping process, and if they drag your load speed down too much they can really interrupt your customer’s eCommerce pathway. Longer load speeds can really cost you customers that you may never be able to earn back.
- Make Your Thumbnails As Small As Possible – It might be worth letting quality slide when it comes to thumbnails. As they are so small, quality isn’t as important as it is in other images. Remember that your thumbnails will really slow your page down, so choosing lower-quality images will limit this issue.
- Vary Your Alt-Text – Make sure that your alt-text isn’t the same as it for larger versions of the same image. As a matter of fact, make your alt-tags wildly different whenever possible.
Google has a range of great image publishing guidelines which you need make the most of!
8. Take Note Of Any Decorative Images – Websites, particularly older web designs, have relied on a range of images for decoration. This can include buttons, borders and even background images. They might be great when it comes to adding aesthetic appeal to a site, or even a specific web page, they can often lead to a slow load time and a huge combined file size. You might want to consider a more minimalist design to allow speedy-loading on all kinds of devices. This can be essential when it comes to converting visitors into customers.
· A great idea is to make border patterns and simple images into PNGs. You can create good-looking images which are only a few hundred bytes in size.
· When possible, use CSS to create coloured areas instead of using block images. CSS is a great way to apply decoration without slowing your site down too much.
· Background images can be huge images. It’s understandable, seeing as you want them to be as high quality as possible. However, sometimes it is worth losing a little quality in order to make your web page much quicker to load.
One trick is to remove the centre of your background image, where your customers can’t see the image anyway, and replace it with a flat colour. Not only will it substantially decrease the image size, it won’t cause your site’s quality to deteriorate.
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If you’re looking to optimise your online presence for search engines like Google, then making sure that your images aren’t detracting from your efforts is an essential component of your overall strategy. Thanks to the optimisation services on offer from the UK’s leading digital marketing and SEO agency, you will be able to reap the benefits associated with a visible online retail platform.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our professional team of SEO agency experts on 0118 380 0203. Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding any of our marketing services, including our social media management, conversion rate optimisation or pay-per-click advertising, you can email any questions or concerns to email@example.com.