An important part of both your search engine optimization (SEO) and visitor satisfaction is optimizing your images. Images that aren’t optimized can affect your site’s load time, as well as your ranking in search engine results.
Optimizing for Load Time
It’s no secret that a web page with a lot of images, including gifs, often takes longer to load than a web page that’s only made up of text. It’s also no secret that web pages without images aren’t very interesting to look at. How can you avoid a load time that will turn people away while also having enough images to keep them interested?
One reason a page with multiple images might feel like it takes forever to load is because the file sizes of the images are too large. To keep your page loading time down, you need to make the image smaller before you upload it onto your site. Your image should have a resolution of 72px or smaller for the best results.
Optimizing for Search Engine Rank
Another reason to optimize your images is to increase your search engine ranking. There are a few steps you can take that will elevate your images from just decoration to pulling their weight
Although you can look at an image and automatically understand what’s going on, search engine bots (the software that search engines use to rank your site) rely on keywords from the filename and alt text to know how to categorize your image in image searches and for SEO.
The most important thing to change is your filename, because that’s where search engine bots get their information about your image. Most likely, the images are uploaded to your computer with a filename like 989876TR.jpg. It might seem tempting to keep the default filename, but it will only take you a second to change it to something more descriptive.
If your image is of a sunflower in a field, your filename should look something like yellow-sunflower-in-grassy-field.jpg. The dashes are important because without them, the search engine bots wouldn’t separate the words.
The next step is to upload the image onto your website, then add alt text.
Alt text is the text description of your image. You have probably seen these before, when an image took too long to load and you were left with an empty box and a couple descriptive words. Those words are alt text, and are also helpful to search engine bots. You want your alt text to be a few words, and to be plain English. Don’t stuff your alt text with keywords, such as “sunflower grassy field yellow sun grass flower” because the bots will mark you as spam.
Finally, the most important piece of optimizing your images is making sure that the images you use have something to do with the content of your site. You don’t want to use images of cars on your website about horses, because that will confuse both users and the search engine bots.
Making these changes should help you see some improvement in your SEO and your page load time, and they don’t add much time to your typical image upload.
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