Images are the lifeblood of any successful article published online or in print. In fact, articles with images get 94% more total views than those without. You can’t expect viewers to stay engaged with massive blocks of text, and simply adding subheaders isn’t enough.
Simply throwing images into your article won’t work in terms of SEO. Instead, you should take careful steps to not only choose engaging images, but also optimize them for a boost to your article’s overall organic search ranking. Today, I’ll show you actionable tips that will help you maximize the images you place into your articles.
Choosing the Right Images For Your Articles
Before we delve into the SEO tactics that will optimize your photos, we should first start by establishing what kind of photos you should be using. Ideally your photos should accomplish the following goals:
- Eye-catching or colorful to draw the reader’s attention.
- Combined with text or information to add value beyond the visuals.
- Unique and not often found on other similar posts.
That leaves us with plenty of options. You will find that varying the types of images you use garners more views and reading time which ultimately benefits your post as a whole.
In the spirit of that, here are some of the best types of images to use in your posts:
1. Custom Graphics
Don’t worry, you won’t need to be a graphic artist to make custom images. There are plenty of tools for doing just that. My personal favorite is a free online tool called Canva which allows you to make gorgeous featured images with text for your posts. Creating something from scratch offers a better chance at SEO because it’s unique.
You can accomplish something similar by utilizing images you’ve taken yourself. Screenshots can be taken with a variety of tools. My personal favorite is Skitch, but you can use anything you like. This offers yet another unique images for you to utilize.
3. Stock Photos
Stock photos can be a slippery slope, so I would use these when you can find ones that aren’t obviously stock photos. You know the kind I’m talking about. Something like this will stand out like a sore thumb:
Instead, look for something more natural and unique. You can find plenty of options on websites like Pixabay, Morguefile, and Flickr. You can earn some bonus points by modifying the image with one of the tools I mentioned above and give it a unique twist.
I’m the first to admit that I love memes. Honestly, I mentioned them here so I could use a clever example:
In all seriousness though, these captioned images are a great way to inject a little humor into your post. If you can make someone laugh, they’re bound to stick around.
Much like custom graphics, conveying information via an image is a great way to provide value and visuals all in one. You’ll find that there are no shortages of free tools for making infographics, so once again you won’t need graphic design skills to make this happen.
7 Tips For Optimizing Your Images
Now that you’ve found some amazing images (or created them), it’s time to start optimizing them for SEO purposes. Let’s dive into ten actionable tips you can use today to start making your images search engine friendly.
1. Start by Compressing Your Images
When you sign up for hosting on your website, you’re going to see that most offer unlimited storage, but there is a cap. In order to help the images load faster and avoid using too much space on your server, you should compress them.
Compression allows you to reduce the file size without compromising technology through the miracle of technology. Once again, I’ve got a free tool for you called Optimizilla. I use it constantly and it’s a lifesaver.
Since speed is indeed a ranking factor, you should make this your first step with any images you create or download for your posts. A smaller file size will do wonders for speeding up the load time on your pages.
2. Name Your Image Files (With Descriptive Titles)
When you download an image, odds are it’s going to have some random name consisting of numbers and letters that make zero sense. Instead of leaving this be, change the file name to something that describes what the image is showing.
When Google crawls pages, it can’t see pictures like you and I. Instead, it looks for keywords that help it understand what the image is and how it benefits the article as a whole. If all the spiders see is a computer generated batch of nonsense, you won’t gain anything from the image.
Consider what people would search for it they were trying to find that image. Use specific keywords, brands, colors, anything that describes the image.
3. Optimize Your Alt Tags
Alt tags themselves are actually used as a failsafe when images fail to load on a page, but they are also used for SEO purposes. Instead of leaving them blank, fill them in with delicious keywords.
Much like the tip above, make the alt tag something that describes the picture using long-tail keywords that a search user would type in to find the photo. When in doubt, try to use keywords related to the ones you’re targeting in your written content.
Much like you wouldn’t keyword stuff your content, don’t try to cram a ton of keywords into your alt tag. Simply include a few descriptive keywords that paint a picture for search engines.
Another thing you should consider is making unique alt tags when using pictures of the same product or subject from different angles or dimensions. If you have a photo of a sports car from various angles and of the interior, make sure you’re using unique alt tags for each.
For example, if you’re showing a rear view make sure you include “rear view” in the alt tag, along with the make and model.
4. Know Your File Types
Images most commonly come in three different formats: JPEG, GIF, and PNG. You would be forgiven for assuming these are all created equal, but they’re not. Each one serves its purposes in a different scenario.
Some will look great at all sizes and maintain their quality when compressed but others will not. Here’s how you should be using each type:
- JPEG has been around forever, but it’s a solid choice in most situations. You can compress them and still maintain quality, even with small file sizes.
- GIFs are lower quality and are typically used for icons, decorative images, or as animated clips. Use this format for those types of images and stay away from using this format on complex images.
- PNGs are great in the sense that they don’t degrade over multiple resaves and support plenty of colors. They come with a caveat though: they can be very large in file size. If you’re going to use one, keep this characteristic in mind.
5. Create Image Sitemaps
Creating one of these isn’t difficult, and Google also offers some guidelines for how to ensure yours is up to par.
6. Consider the Content Surrounding The Image
The place where you decide to put your image in the post matters almost as much as the image itself. The caption and surrounding content are all taken into account when Google’s spider bots crawl the page.
If your content is covering SEO and you have a picture of a polar bear in your post, you’d better have a good reason behind it, otherwise you may wish to put that photo elsewhere. Every piece of your post is part of a puzzle that must fit together.
7. Always Consider the User Experience
This is perhaps the most important point of all. Google’s primary goal is provide its users with the best experience and the content available based on their search. Your images should always contribute to a positive experience on that front.
Here are some final tips that will help you ensure you’re providing the best possible experience for your users:
- Use high-quality photos that are crisp and clear. Blurry or otherwise poorly made photos will not help your SEO in the slightest.
- Allow engagement with your images like comments, discussions, or ratings that help people interact with the content.
- Organize your directories so that images are organized into various types or different categories.
- Specify a width and height for your images so they are all consistent. This will assist with loading times and improve the user experience as a whole.
Images are crucial for any article or post on the web. Whether you’re using a small business SEO strategy, or you’re a massive corporation, everyone needs pictures in their posts to succeed. Implement these strategies for choosing and optimizing your images so you can take advantage of the ranking boosts they offer.
Let us know how these tips helped you harness the power of your images in the comments!