Images are something that many web developers are missing the boat on when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here are some things you need to know about images and SEO.
By Don Yates
First off, you need to be using images in your web pages. According to your theme, you should be sticking to a certain standard image size or image ratio (16:9 is what I use on my site) for images. In most WordPress themes you can set a featured image for post. Again, I usually use 700 x 394 pixel (16:9 ratio) for featured images on my sites. Set the standard ratio/size for your site and stick with it so you don’t have hodge-podge looking images on you page.
Social media is another tool to drive traffic to your site. Social media posts with images have a much higher rate of interaction than those without images. There are tools and plugins to automate sharing of website posts to social media. Always have images with posts.
File size in images are important as well. As with anything, the bigger the file size the slower the loading time for the site. For web use you can go pretty darn small in file size and you won’t see much of a difference in quality between a larger file size. I’ve been using a photo editor called Photoscape for years. When I go to save a photo after editing I can choose the JPEG quality. For a recent 700 x 394 JPEG photo I edited I could go anywhere from 37 kb to 195 kb without much of any loss in appearance quality using the lowest size. For WordPress you can install a plugin called Smush that will optimize images automatically. I like to do as much as possible to reduce the file size before getting to the Smush step. Smush is only going to reduce the file size by about 10 or 15% so if you uploaded a full size file you are still going to have a rather large file size even after smushing.
The “Alt” tag is the most important field to input with an image when you are uploading an image to your web page. Why? Google supposedly uses the presence of alt tags as one of the criteria in ranking web pages. Alt tags also help people with visual disabilities be able to understand web pages. There are devices that read web pages to persons with visual disabilities. If you don’t use alt tags for images then these persons can’t know what the images represent. Furthermore, if you are not using Alt tags you could possibly be sued for violating the American Disabilities Act. Other tags are the caption tag and title tag.
If you are selling products on your website, be very descriptive of the image. A lot of folks will just go to the Google Image Search Tool to find a product. This is because the can just look through the photos for that they want and then click on the link to the page to find out more. I once found a friend of the family who we had lost contact with by search for his name in Google Images. I looked through at all the photos of people with that name until I found what I thought was him. I clicked on the page and, yes, it was him. If his name had not been entered along with the photo we probably would have never found him.
For more information on Images and SEO please check out the highly respected Yoast.com.