How to improve your SEO by optimising images for search engines

Using SEO in your website content can considerably improve visibility, attracting the attention of search engines and bringing more potential customers to your site. However, it’s not just text content that has a valuable part to play in SEO – you can also improve your website performance with search engines by optimising the images that you use.

Focusing on the filename

Users to your website won’t see the filenames that your images have and that makes them pretty unimportant – right? Actually, although users won’t generally see the filenames, search engines will. And, when it comes to SEO, it’s the search engines that are important. It’s key to ensure that your filenames provide information on what the image is – and, if possible, incorporate the right keyword. Search engines will use all this information in the process of identifying the most useful and relevant results in searches. The more clarity you provide in terms of information, the better the search results will be. So, if you have an image of a yellow bicycle, for example, the filename should be ‘yellowbicycle.jpg’ as opposed to ‘image4jpg.’

The relevance of Alt tags

Alt tags are what will appear if the image on the website can’t be properly displayed. However, even if the image is displaying as it should, search engines will still scan alt tags. When accurate and precise alt tags are used, which also incorporate keywords, this can considerably improve the visibility of the website. So, for example, if your business is a specialist bicycle company a useful alt tag might read something like this:

< img alt="yellow" src="yellowbicycle.jpg" / >

This alt tag has a dual benefit in that it clearly identifies what is in the image if it is not able to display, as well as incorporating the keyword ‘bicycle’ (which could also be ‘bike’ if that is the preferred keyword for your business).

Image quality is a question of compromise

High quality images can ensure a professional feel to a website and may be especially important when it comes to displaying products. However, if the images are too high res then they may have a negative impact on the speed at which the page loads. This is especially crucial for mobile sites - 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. So, the compromise for your site will be to ensure that images are not so low res that they are pixilated but not so high res that they slow the site down, resulting in lots of bounces. The ideal image option is in a .jpeg, .gif or .png file format, at a normal web-resolution of 96dpi.

And one more image tip…

It’s possible to add images to your XML sitemap, whether using sitemap generation tools or manually. This will not only ensure that your images appear correctly in image searches but will also give search engines another reason to rank your site higher.

Image optimisation is just one element of successful website SEO – contact us to find out more about what you can do to improve your website visibility.

Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow us on Google+