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A picture paints a thousand words. The increasing online dominance of visual content offers new opportunities to increase search traffic to your website. In this article I tell you how you can capitalize on these opportunities by optimizing images.

To achieve great organic results in Google’s search results, it is important to take into account the many ranking factors of the Google algorithm. When optimizing images, you will need to consider certain factors other than when optimizing written content. You’d be surprised how many similarities there are between optimizing for content and images.

The benefits of optimizing images

Using optimized images has 3 major advantages:

  • Images make a text more attractive.
  • An optimized image ensures a faster website.
  • An optimized image can provide extra website visits via Google Images.

With the tips below, your images will be at the top of Google in no time.

In addition, it is good to know that optimized images can improve the overall performance and ranking of your website. Of course you want that and below you can read how to arrange that!

1. Choose the correct file type

Website speed is an important ranking factor for Google. The size of images can have a significant impact on the overall load time of a page. I recommend using the correct file type. The most common image file types are:

  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • Modern layouts

JPEG

JPEG is the standard when it comes to compatibility. The biggest advantage of the JPEG file type is that it is supported almost always and everywhere, both on social media and, for example, in the print shop.

The JPEG file type also has drawbacks. First, images cannot have a transparent background. With a JPEG there is always a white area behind the image. In addition, your photo is compressed, so that the quality of your photo is somewhat less when you save it.

PNG

PNG is a file type that does not reduce the quality of your image when you save it. The type of file has higher bit rates and can also guarantee transparency. This makes it an ideal file type for, for example, displaying images on the Internet that should not have a background.

The downside to PNG images is that they tend to be a relatively large file type. I myself use https://tinypng.com/ to resize images. Other online tools to resize images include:

Modern image formats such as JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP often offer better compression than PNG or JPEG. This results in faster downloads and less data usage. JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP are image formats with superior compression and quality characteristics compared to their legacy JPEG and PNG counterparts. Encoding the images in these formats instead of JPEG or PNG means they load faster and use less mobile data.

But which format should I use now?

Which format you use depends on the type of image and how you want to use it. In short, I recommend:

  • Use JPEG for larger photos or illustrations: this will give you good results in terms of colors and clarity with a relatively small file size.
  • PNG if you want to preserve the background transparency in your image.
  • Instead of JPEG and PNG choose to use WebP. You also get high quality results with smaller file sizes. You can use tools like Squoosh to convert your image to WebP. WordPress users can choose to use a plugin like Imagify or WebP Converter.
  • SVG to use for logos and icons. With the help of CSS or JavaScript you can manage and change the format of images in SVG format, among other things, without loss of quality.

2. Optimize the file name and title text

An image with a relevant file name has a better chance of ranking well. The file name is the ultimate place to add the keyword you’re optimizing the image for.

The title text is the name of the image. The main difference from the file name is that it must be both human readable and machine readable. Therefore, use spaces to separate the words in your image, not underscores or dashes.

an example of an optimized title text

in short

Filename – Optimization Preview.png

Title text – Optimization example

3. Set the alt attributes

An alt attribute is the text that appears if the image fails to load. The Google crawler sees this text instead of an image. This makes alt attributes important for SEO.

The alt text describes what the image represents. Alt text can help search engines determine not only the content of an image, but also the subject matter of the surrounding text. When filling in the alt text, imagine that the website visitor cannot see the image, how would you describe it?

The main function of the alt text is separate from SEO. The alt text is used to describe the image for people with visual impairments. They have software that reads out web pages. The alt text is also read aloud by the reading software, so that visitors with a visual impairment know that there is an image and what it says. Very important if you consider user-friendliness to be of paramount importance!

4. Write content around images

The relevance, quality, and keywords used in the content surrounding the image all affect the image’s ranking in search results. The introductory text above an image and/or the caption below the image are important.

Everyone knows that content is still king and that a page does not rank without good content. It is sometimes forgotten that a good piece of content and a suitable image reinforce each other.

5. Consider mobile friendliness

Since the ‘mobile first index’, mobile pages are given priority when indexed by Google. Make sure images have the srcset attribute, which makes it possible to display a different image per screen width.

This supposedly responsive rendering of an image is especially useful for mobile devices.

6. Use unique images

If you can choose between a stock photo or a self-made unique photo, always choose a self-made unique photo. Stock photos can be used by anyone. You don’t want to risk optimizing the same photo as another. Google prefers to show unique content and images.

7. View the performance of your image via Google Search Console

Aside from the points above, many of the ranking factors of written content also apply to images. This also applies to link building. Google sees a link to your image as a recommendation. Popular images, image with many recommendations, score better.

Curious about the results of your images? You can easily view this via Google Search Console. There you can view the performance of the images on your website over a period of time. To do this, change the search type to ‘Image’ within ‘performance’.

As a result, I see, for example, that the website ranks a 10th position for the keyword ‘Oris watch  . An ideal photo to test the tips from this blog!

8. Add images to your XML sitemap

You’ve probably already submitted an XML sitemap through Google Search Console to help Google find its way around your website. But did you know that you can also create a sitemap for images?

Do you use WordPress? Then this is easily done via the plugin ‘ Google Image Sitemap ‘. When using another CMS, I recommend discussing this option with your web developer.

Make the SEO on your website the perfect picture

The importance of optimizing images should therefore be clear. Using the tips I’ve just given, you can get started with image optimization. If you apply these tips, both Google and your visitors will understand your website better. In addition, applying the tips will ensure that the website speed improves.