Using lightweight images is essential for mobile websites to achieve fast downloading speeds. In fact, reducing image sizes in order to increase page load times are required by Google to improve mobile optimization. Yet, WordPress sites are using 4.8% more kilobyte-based images in 2018 than they were in 2017. Why is this happening? Of course, images are vital components to content and have been proven to resonate deeply with readers.
If you optimize your images and use them to communicate the meaning of your content, you’re more likely to accelerate your mobile page load times. It’s important to realize that images aren’t decorations. Images are content, and you should always treat them in the same manner as textual content to begin ranking better in your local SERPs.
Images are also useful for breaking up content and making it easier to read. Also, you can improve your user experience and leverage your SEO strategy by using images. Your goal for implementing images into your content should be to complement your content and increase your page’s download speeds.
Let’s explore seven ways you can improve your SEO with optimized images.
1. Simplify Your Images
Images that consist of multiple small details, gradients, and patterns are more likely to create larger files. For example, an image of a plant with an insect on it or a person with a large tattoo will create larger files than a simpler image. Without much effort, you can increase your page speeds by using simpler images that have smaller file sizes. Overall, simplicity is key. Plus, Google’s search bots can conveniently crawl and render smaller image file sizes.
2. Do Not Mix Image Types
Many websites make the mistake of mixing image types by combining a photographic image and illustrated text. For example, if you download a JPEG background image and place bold lettering on the image to promote an upcoming event, the resulting image will usually be larger than a PNG background image with the same lettering on top of it.
The reason why this happens is that the JPEG image format needs to be downloaded at a much higher resolution to reduce fuzziness and heavy pixelation. Otherwise, you could end up with an image that looks like this:
To avoid this issue, it’s important to remember that images that contain a mixture of illustrations (not photographs) and fonts are perfectly ideal. However, fonts superimposed over photographic images almost always result in larger file sizes. If you plan on using a photograph on your website or in your content, avoid using fonts and letters in the photograph to keep your image file size economical.
In addition, try to also avoid using gradients and drop shadows in PNG files. If you must use them, do your best to make it a small feature of the image in order to limit your file size.
3. Save Images in the Correct Format
In order to boost your SEO, you’ll need to begin saving your images in the correct format. There is a methodical way to do this. Simply, save your image files as JPG and your illustration files as PNG. Alternatively, you can also save these files in the GIF format, but some websites classify GIF as an animation format and will often time display a “play” button above your image.
4. Avoid Using Too Many Colors
This pointer applies to both photographs and illustration type files. To put it simply, the more colors you use, the larger the file size. If one of your images has too many colors, you can use an image editing tool to desaturate the image. In most cases, most people won’t notice the difference.
For illustration type image files, you can specifically conserve its file size by just combining all of the similar colors in the image. Most of your images don’t need to replicate the same colors. For example, an image of a red apple doesn’t need six shades of red to retain its aesthetic value. It’s a red apple. One shade of red will be perfectly fine.
In contrast, if you are using photographic images, try not to overdo it when you’re desaturating the image. If this becomes too much of a problem, choose images that don’t feature too many repetitive colors.
5. Compress Your Images
If you are determined to limit the file sizes of your images, hitting the compress button may be your most viable option. Avoid using CSS and HTML to reduce the size of a 1200 pixel image to 400 pixels. Although the image will render at 400 pixels, it will still carry the enormous weight of a 1200 pixel image, and there is no such thing as shrinking weight.
Additionally, it’s a common mistake to use massive image sizes for small images. Try to understand this concept by asking yourself would an image that’s 1000 pixels wide look any worse if you reduced its size to 900 or 700 pixels?
6. Allow Your Images to Support the Content
The main purpose of adding images to content is to provide additional support to your content’s topic. Therefore, the size of the image isn’t important. Instead, what’s important is how the image adds further context to help a reader understand that message you are trying to convey.
Whether you are presenting a step-by-step illustration, a product image, or a useful infographic, what really matters is the content. Never use an image to simply improve the appearance of your web pages. Your images should always support your content, and not vice-versa.
7. Provide Your Images with Context
Although the previous point expressed that images are supposed to be used to support content, images are still content in itself. Hence, you should provide all of your used images with context to help readers and search bots understand what it’s about. Alt text is an important feature that you can implement in the context of your image.
Alt text is often overlooked, but it informs search engines of what your image is about. Also, alt text can relay this information to readers who may be suffering from visual impairments such as blindness and colorblindness. Overall, your images aren’t an afterthought.
Images are content, and if they are properly optimized, you could experience a wide variety of benefits that can positively impact your SEO.