Similar to making your content more appealing to read, images can also bring more traffic to your site via Google Image Search results.
Today I’m going to share three essential tips for optimizing images on your website. Read more:
Tip #1: Size Matters
Image size has a direct impact on loading speed. The bigger your image is, the longer it takes for your webpage to load. Reducing image size can reduce load speed by up to one third. Quicker load pages convert better. A one second delay in load speed can lead to a 7% drop in conversions.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep all your images under 50kb in size. With a little bit of work, it’s possible to keep quality high, and size below 50kb.
The good news is that it’s easy to find images on your site that are over the recommended size.
The easiest way is to reach out, and I’ll send you a list of all your images over 50kb in a csv file, for free.
If you’d prefer to do it yourself, a quick Google search will return a number of tools that are up to the job. I like Screaming Frog.
It allows you to easily find images over 50kb. It’s free to use for your first 500 pages. If your site has more than 500 pages, it is relatively inexpensive to purchase an annual licence.
Once you’ve downloaded, installed, and opened the software, follow these steps to find the required images:
Step 1: Set the image size parameter to 50kb. To do this, click into Configuration and then Spider.
screaming frog spider
Step 2: Click into Preferences and set the max image size to 50kb. Once that’s done, click OK to save the changes.
screaming frog preferences
Step 3: Allow Screaming Frog crawl your site by placing your URL in the search box and pressing Start.
screaming frog crawl site
Step 4: Go make a cup of coffee.
The length of time it takes Screaming Frog to crawl your site depends on how big your site is. It could be anything from five minutes to five hours. Leave it running in the background and go scratch a few items from that ever-growing list of things you need to do today.
Step 5: Click on Images and Filter by Over 50kb.
screaming frog optimizing images
Now you’re left with a list of all the images on your site that are over 50kb in size. You can either export them to a CSV file or you can analyse them in the software. I like analysing them in the software because it allows me to see what page the image is used on.
Once you have your list of images, you need to compress them. There’s an array of tools available online for this. Some are free, some are paid. I like using the Save For Web feature of PhotoShop to help reduce file size and keep image quality. There’s a great article on using Photoshop to reduce image size here.
If you’re having any issues, please get in touch. We can help here, too.
Once your images are compressed, you’ll need to replace your current images. I find the plugin Enable Media Replace is great. As with all plugins, make sure you test in a staging environment first.
Now that you’ve taken care of your image size issues, and increased load speed, you can tackle the next step in optimizing images on your website.
Tip #2: File Names Are Important
An often overlooked step in uploading images to a site is naming your file correctly.
If you’re using an image of a sunset in Bora Bora or an image of one of your reports, don’t name it “picture-1” or similar. Call it something that describes what the image is about (e.g. if it’s a report on investing in gold, a good name for the image would be investing-in-gold-bullion.jpg or sunset-in-bora-bora.jpg if the image is of a sunset in Bora Bora). The file name is the first indication to the search engine of what your image is about.
Tip #3: Help Google Decipher What
Your Images Are About
The final tip relates to the humble alt tag. It’s is a very important element of image optimization. It has two important uses. First, it describes an image for the visually impaired who are using screen readers. Secondly, it helps search engines understand what an image is about. When you see a picture of Usain Bolt winning another gold medal, you instantly recognize what’s happening in the image.
The problem is, although a picture can paint a thousand words for humans, search engine spiders can’t recognize what’s going on in an image, not yet anyway.
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