If you have a website, chances are you have plenty of images on it. But do you know how to optimize these images for search and social media? In this simple guide, we will walk you through the basic steps of using and optimizing images effectively. From finding free-to-use images online to choosing the right file names, we will cover it all. We will also explain the difference between alt text and image titles, and provide recommendations for image size and type. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of including images in structured data and how to optimize image thumbnails for social media. By following these tips, you can ensure that your images are properly optimized and easily discoverable online. So let’s get started! If you are running a website, there are most likely going to be plenty of images there.
While image-specific SEO is very well explained in a few detailed guides, let’s try to create a very simple and easily-organized guide to using images properly:
1. Free Images You Can Use
First things first: let’s see where you can find free-to-use images online. That’s a popular misconception that you can actually use any image you find online as long as you credit the source.
Mind that you can only re-use images with a certain license:
|License||Icon||You Can Re-use||For Commercial Use?||You Can Modify||Credit|
|Attribution-NoDerivs License||Yes||Yes||No||Yes (Required)|
The two popular (and most effective) sources of Creative Commons images you can re-publish are:
- Flickr Creative Commons
- Google Advanced Image Search (Oddly, there’s no “Usage Rights” option in the sidebar of the general image search interface, but luckily you can access it using the “Advanced” search option)
2. Image File Names
An image file name is crucial when it comes to ranking an image in Google Image search results. I’ve seen a huge boost in image search traffic each time I pick a good name for my image. Here’s what has always worked like a charm:
Mind that traditionally, search engines read a hyphen in URLs and file names as a “space” – that doesn’t mean Google won’t understand an underscore, an actual space, or other characters there, but a hyphen is the most natural and straightforward way to go.
3. Image ALT Text and Image Title
That’s another very popular question: what’s the difference between the ALT and the TITLE attributes when it comes to describing an image?
Most basically, here’s the difference:
|Image “Alt” Attribute||Image “Title” Attribute|
|Official rule of use||Describes an image for search agents||Gives additional information on what an image is about (when it’s required)|
|Screen readers||“Read” it||Ignore it by default (it is mostly considered redundant)|
|Browsers||Is displayed when images are disabled||Pops up when you hover over an image|
- (Very important!) Use ALT text to describe the image you are using
- Use title if you need to give additional information: do NOT duplicate it with alt text! (accessibility rules only advise using TITLE tags for abbreviations, forms, etc, where an explanation is really necessary)
- (If there are many images on one page) Use different alt text throughout the page as it will be displayed as “text” in most browsers (when images are disabled) and in the email newsletter (when remote content is loaded on demand)
- You can also install a WordPress management library plugin to manage your images and their attributes easier.
4. Image Size and Type
The good old rule has always been to keep your images less than 100KB. My own rule of thumb: as long as I don’t sacrifice the image quality, I make it the minimum size I can.
Google also recommends: “the less, the better”. Here are Google’s recommendations as to file types and compressors:
|File Types||Best Used For||Recommended Compressor|
|JPGs||All photographic-style images||jpegtran or jpegoptim|
|PNGs||Logos, banners, etc. (where you need a transparent background)||OptiPNG or PNGOUT|
|GIFs||For very small/simple graphics (e.g., less than 10×10 pixels or a color palette of less than 3 colors) and for animated images||N/A|
|BMPs or TIFFs||Don’t use|
More great tools to try for any image file type you are using:
- WP Smush.it: a WordPress plugin that uses Smush.it API to perform image optimization automatically. It does all essential image optimization tasks: optimizing JPEG compression, converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs, and stripping the unused colors from indexed images (except for stripping JPEG meta data) automatically.
5. Schema for Images
ImageObject is part of many important schema types out there, such as Article, Product, HowTo, Recipes, etc.
Do your best to include images into your structured data, and you will likely generate visual rich snippets as well as get extra visibility through other search sections.
6. Image Thumbnails in Social Media
An image thumbnail generated with the snippet when someone shares your post on a Facebook or Google Plus wall is crucial when it comes to click-through and further shares.
While Google Plus is generally very smart at marking up your page and finding the best thumbnail to go with the update, Facebook seems to only rely on what you “point” to it. Besides, when using Facebook’s “Like” button, your readers have almost no control over the shared snippet, and often an image that gets to your readers’ Facebook wall is absolutely random.
To ensure your beautiful, relevant, and eye-catching images make it to your fans’ Facebook streams and get lots of attention, we are forced to use Open Graph Protocol to point Facebook to what needs to be grabbed from your page.
- This WordPress Plugin makes integrating Open Graph very easy for WordPress bloggers.
- Also, this tool will help you identify how Facebook “sees” your page as well as refresh its cache.
Other “Obvious” Factors The tips and tables above mostly list image-specific factors of making your images search- and social-friendlier. That doesn’t mean other commonsense practices don’t matter here:
- Your images should be surrounded with relevant “text-based” content to rank well in image search results.
- Your images should be located on powerful pages (in terms of link juice and on-page optimization).
Have I missed anything? Let’s help make this an actual “all-in-one” guide: add your image SEO tips in the comments!
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The post Using and Optimizing Images: Search and Social Optimization Cheat Sheets appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.