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Importance of Image Optimization in SEO

The Importance of Image Optimization in SEO

Posted on: Aug 12, 2016

An image speaks louder than any number of words on a website. In Search Engine Optimisation, however, image optimisation is something of an afterthought because quality content is preferred for higher ranking in search results. Today's SEO best practice focuses on image optimisation and with social media, more emphasis is given on the use of structured data, page speed optimisation and rich snippets.

Predicting the future, both SEO analysts and business owners may have to think again about how they move forward with image optimisation. Before looking at the past, present and future of Search Engine Optimisation, it is worth knowing why this is an important topic and more critical for certain industries than they might realise.

Image Optimisation and SEO

Businesses from accounting software companies to psychotherapists put emphasis on images in search engines. The result is not viewable and as such, quality content is a good medium to convey messages. SEO agencies use optimised images for better search engine ranking.

On the other hand, local businesses specializing in custom signage should be aware of their image results in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. If they are not, they will miss out on market share. The products that are in huge demand based on their image appeal and strong organic presence in image results may be an indication of significant traffic. Let's take a look at the past, present and future of image optimisation and its importance in the SEO industry.

Post for audience availability

You need to know the best timing for posts to get the best response from your audience. There are certain tools with which it is possible to determine the most suitable time for sharing content. Timing+ and Steady Demand Pro are known as tools for effective time management and for posts that will produce the best user response.

What was Search Engine Optimisation, previously?

In the year 2007, Matt Cutts explained the importance of alt text for SEO. Matt’s techniques are still applied today by the biggest search engine, Google. They are:

  • File names - Image files have a name that will give a better idea to the search engines of what the image is about. A small, accurate and relevant filename can provide an immediate improvement to the visibility of images. For example, a file showing a boy writing website content would gain more visibility if saved in the format 'boy-writing-content.jpg' than a default filename like 'img024824'.
  • Alt attribute - Matt Cutts stated that alt attribute is necessary for optimising images. It provides content for visually impaired images and Google with relevant information about the image. Text used in alt attribute should be accurate and crisp. An example of alt text in HTML code can be something like:
  • Right caption for the content - Writing text on the website pages near the images helps suggest what the image reveals to the search engines. In certain cases, this works as a caption for the image, though giving a description to the image is important too. When considering keyword optimization, writing text in a caption that has appropriate relevance to the keyword for which you want the image to rank is certainly a good idea.

What is SEO today?

Today there are new considerations for image optimisation, though they can be categorized as additions to the old practices rather than standard change. When optimizing images for top companies with SEO services, these things need to be considered for auditing and addressing to the latest standard.

Size of file and page loading speed - In 2010, Google delivered a message on Webmaster Blog that offered education to website owners on the importance of page loading speed. This note changed the loading speed of websites to the forefront of Search Engine Optimisation. Users only stay in websites that take less time to load and so, page-loading speed is very important to boost ranking in the search engines.
Starting from SEO Company optimising images and their viewpoint, loading speed can be improved in a couple of ways. Firstly, tools like Photoshop or other free online tools can be used for compressing the size of an image. To sum up, quality of image can often be severely reduced leading to a small file size, with little or no impact to the human eye. Secondly, crop images to an appropriate size. The resulting 5mb image should be loaded and re-sized to display on the screen.

Use social networking websites - Open Graph (OG) Protocol tags on your pages and posts an image to the content for sharing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By configuring the tags, thumbnails can be controlled in social shares of the content. For example, the connection between image and content can improve the ranking and relevance of your image for a specific keyword.

XML sitemaps for images - Create an XML sitemap for images and add details of the image to the present sitemap. As per the guidelines of Google, image sitemap information helps search for the relevant images that we may not find easily. This enables you to signify images on your website that you want to the biggest search engine, Google to crawl and index. The popular XML sitemap plugins like Yoast SEO for Wordpress include images automatically, however you need to check the configuration of your present website in order to be sure. Go through the configuration in Webmaster tools to verify that image URLs are submitted with sitemap information.

What is the future for Image Optimisation will be in future?

Concepts like machine learning and image recognition software are becoming a reality. The, old reality of search engines depended on alt attributes and other signals that may disappear. Google has its own initiative for image recognition and machine learning.
A quick look suggests a platform with the ability to sort out images in several categories, distinguishing individual objects within images and find them as well as reading printed words within the images. In addition, Google's CAPTCHAs used in Webmaster Tools needs users to choose images that will match specific criteria.

Staying updated with the recent changes

By keeping an eye to the future and the latest practices, webmasters can move a step ahead of their competitors and enjoy the benefits of image optimisation.

  • Too much keyword stuffing is bad - The alt attribute will probably be around for a long time. However, keyword stuffing within the alt tag for SEO may be risky as search engines are more capable of identifying alt tags that have no relevance to the images attached.
  • More emphasis when selecting images - Writing informative and good quality content with relevant images will improve content and engage readers to go through it, taking into account possible changes to search engine algorithms.

By keeping an eye to the future and with the latest practices, webmasters can move ahead of their competitors and enjoy the benefits of image optimization.

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