Images can sometimes be an afterthought when it comes to SEO. There is such an emphasis on getting issues like content and keywords right, as well as a focus on maximizing the technical aspects of the page, many website owners can end up neglecting the importance of images.
And yet, images actually play an extremely important role not only in how a website ranks but also in how well it is able to convert. If you are interested in improving your website rankings, it is important to look at everything regarding how you currently upload and optimize your images to where those images come from in the first place.
Perhaps it is no surprise that SEO experts are now championing the importance of original images and unique photography as a part of elevating your rankings.
In this article, we take a look at how images impact your SEO in this images optimization article, and what you need to do to make the most of them.
Let’s start with images optimization, one of the most important things to do is to use descriptive, keyword-rich file names for your images. This will help search engines understand what the image is about and how it relates to the content on your website.
Additionally, it’s important to use alt text to describe the image and provide context for search engines and users who may be unable to view the image.
Furthermore, it is vital to keep the file size of the images as small as possible, as larger image files can slow down the loading time of a website, which can negatively impact search engine rankings. This was re-emphasized by Google in its Core Web Vitals update who highlighted that their idea of high-performing images should:
Google uses a metric called the Largest Contentful Paint which is essentially a measure of how fast the page loads. Given that images are often the largest element of the page, they can have a negative impact if they are not optimized suitably.
How does images optimization go? well, it can be easy to assume that using stock photos is perfectly fine. After all, you see them everywhere, right? Well, that’s part of the problem. If you are able to notice when an image is a stock photo, you’re also able to determine that it is not a genuine representation of the company, and Google thinks the same way.
Google would much rather see websites using original images than those that it has crawled before. It’s why it’s a great idea to invest in some high-quality photography equipment and just start taking on the photography work within your team, or working with a professional photographer to capture eye-catching images for your site.
If there is one thing that is absolutely clear about Google’s algorithm, it is that it pulls information and compiles its ranking based on a huge range of different sources. Ultimately, what this means is, if you can produce high-performing content on other platforms, such as social media channels, this can have a positive effect on your rankings.
For example, if you have an Instagram or Facebook account that pushes content and gets a great deal of traction and interaction with posts, it can be a real benefit to how your own website rankings. It is true that this happens indirectly; for example, a very popular post can end up being linked to another website.
“Don’t forget your product only registers as high quality if it comes across in the customer’s first impression,” explains Craig Chapman from photography experts MPB. “Make sure to export your photography with the highest resolution possible. If you are planning to post it on social media, exporting the image to 2000 megapixels max or the “save for web” option ensures that there won’t be any disappointing compression happening on your social channel of choice.”
It is also true that brand mentions on social media can impact how Google views your branding, and this can add up to a positive to your website. Ultimately, this means that using strong, eye-catching imagery on your social media channels can have a lasting effect on your SEO.
So it is really worth creating not only imagery that will work on your website but also those that you can use on social media. Let’s continue talking about images optimization…
What else should we do regarding images optimization? It is also important to remember that what Google really wants from a website is for it to provide the searcher with what they are looking for.
Ultimately, Google understands that its purpose is to provide the right websites when a user searches. That’s why Google takes into account user experience as a key element of its ranking factors.
We have already mentioned how the page loading speed impacts how a customer experiences your site, and how optimizing images can be a positive in this regard. But user experience goes a lot further than that. It’s crucial to understand that as many as 38% of customers will simply stop engaging with a website if they think it is unattractive.
So, here we can see that having higher-quality images on your page has another level of importance because it directly affects how readers perceive the site.
Images have a huge impact on your SEO efforts, but these are often not as obvious or noticeable as things like written content, web design, or videos. So, if you want to rank better it could really be worth looking into how you currently use images and swapping out some of the bad practices for good habits.
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