Taking the photo is just the first step. Here are seven image optimisation tips to give your photos an SEO boost.
Humans are visual by nature, and so images are a vital part of your blog. They help to draw in the viewer, break up long passages of text, and illustrate the point of your post. And they can also help to boost your post in the search engine rankings.
So once you’ve mastered your camera, learned how to change shutter speed and ISO, and taken the perfect photo, there are a few steps you need to take to optimise your images.
Here are seven simple image optimisation tips to give your blog posts an SEO boost.
Pick the Right Images
Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to use your own original images. These will help to catch your reader’s eye, and keep them reading your post.
If you do decide to use stock images, as I have in this post, then be sure to make sure that the images are available for royalty-free use. You may find free stock images on some sites, but use these with caution, as the photos are not always uploaded with permission of the copyright holder.
I prefer to get my stock images from sites like Deposit Photos, as this ensures that I am not breaching copyright.
You could also approach other bloggers for appropriate images, as I did in my Best Sunday Lunch in Birmingham post. This can be a great way to get cost-free images to illustrate posts about places that you haven’t visited.
But never simply download images from websites or Google without permission. This could land you with an expensive bill for breach of copyright.
Image Size is Important
You might think that you can just upload your image to your blog, and let the software resize your image.
While it would work technically, doing this will slow your site down. This can lead to your readers clicking away from your post even before they get chance to read it. And you definitely want to avoid that!
Check your blog’s theme to find out the largest image size it uses, and resize your images to fit. I use PIXLR to resize my images.
By the way, if you have enough storage space it’s a good idea to store the full size images in case you use them for future use.
Choose the Right File Type
Generally, you’ll be working with JPEG files for your blog. This file type is great for maintaining the quality of your image when you compress or resize it.
This allows you to keep your file size small, which helps with page loading time.
However, JPEG files don’t support transparent backgrounds. So if you need this for your image, you will need to select either GIF or PNG formats.
Pick your Image Name Carefully
File names is an important factor in on-page SEO, and it’s vital not to upload images with a filename like IMG3794629.jpg.
So when you are naming your image, there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
First, make sure you use keywords from your post in the image names. This way, your images have more chance of ranking well in search engines.
Second, it’s important to use a dash – to separate words in the file name. Don’t use an underscore _ as Google doesn’t recognise this. So your image should be uploaded as food-blogger-photo.jpg rather than food_blogger_photo.jpg or foodbloggerphoto.jpg.
Keep the File Size Down
Large files take longer to load, so it’s important to keep file sizes down. I try to keep photos down to 100KB or less wherever possible.
Resizing your photos to fit your blog should help to reduce the size of the file. You may also need to reduce the quality of the image you are saving as well, which you can do within the photo editing software you are using. A compression service or plugin like Smush can also help to cut file sizes.
You will need to strike a balance between keeping your file size down and not losing too much image quality.
Add in an Alt-Tag
It’s really important that you add alt-tags to your image wherever you use them.
This is primarily used by sight-readers to assist visually impaired visitors to your site, and may be required by law in some countries. So you should make sure that your alt-tags accurately describe what is in the image.
However, the text used in the alt-tag is also helpful from an SEO basis, so you could add in keywords where appropriate. Don’t be tempted to stuff the alt-tag with keywords, as this is misleading and confusing for visually impaired visitors, and is also outdated as far as SEO is concerned.
So the image above may have the alt-tag ‘A blogger takes a photo of courgette slices in a bowl on a kitchen table’ or ‘A blogger takes a photograph for a food blog, the first step of the image optimisation process’. But you wouldn’t want to add an alt-tag like ‘food blog food blogger blogger photos photo tips for food bloggers’.
Do you need Captions?
The final step is adding a caption to your photo after you’ve uploaded it to your blog. This is a great way to add information for your readers, as well as adding keywords for SEO.
You won’t need to use captions on every photo – I don’t think that the photos above need captions.
But if you’re posting photos of a step by step process, captions can help show which step is being illustrated. Or if you are posting images of several locations or landmarks, a caption will make things more clear for your reader.