A website without optimized images can be a complete drag, and it will ruin user experience, tank SEO rankings and thus damage your revenue. This walk-through will showcase how to optimize WordPress images and pictures for better site performance and SEO purposes. Now, let’s start by covering the types of online images.
A Brief Overview of Image Types
Anyone who has ever covered any mapping software like Fireworks and Photoshop can notice that there is a bewildering array of image types. Generally the website images can be sorted into two broad categories, including:
- Vector Images – that consist of geometrical primitives, such as curves, points, shapes and lines. The vector graphics may be a perfect option for logos and backgrounds as they support small file size without loss of detail or distortion.
- Raster Images – that include points of color or rectangular grid of pixels. They are composed of three main file types – JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs. A raster is usually characterized by the image width and height in pixels and cannot be magnified at random.
Below are the examples “Vector” and “Raster” images.
How to Create SEO-Friendly Images in WordPress?
As optimized images can add values to the website and increase search engine spider crawling, we’ve listed the five most essential tactics to optimize images for WordPress.
Resize Your Images Early & Appropriately
Often times, the default images produced by cameras and mobile devices are much larger than anything you use for a WordPress site. Those overlarge images will slow down page loading speed and then turn away visitors in droves. Depending on personal preferences, the image sizes can be reconfigured for web use via commercial image resizing tools or hard-coded PHP scripts. Among the mentioned three “Raster” file formats, the JPEG is the best candidate for compression.
As most images from digital cameras are set to 300 dpi (print user resolution), you should set the images you’d like to upload to the website to 72 dpi (web resolution). Meanwhile, be sure to size your images properly according to the content and featured image width. Beware that, the bigger your images, the slower your page load speed.
Add Alt Text and Title for Each Image
In a nutshell, the “Alt Text” or “Alternate Text” is the lingua franca of how the search engine bots “read” and “understand” your images. Although screen readers will never see the “Alt Text” within an image, you shall provide a non-spammy and concise “Alt Tag” for wider accessibility.
The title of image is also a non-ignorable element in image optimization and it can be viewed by your audiences. Although there is a section to enter the image title when uploading a picture/image to “Media Library”, the title tag will be automatically stripped out. Hence, you will have to add the image titles manually if you wish to grasp the optimization opportunity.
Use SEO-Relevant File Names
Naming your images with succinct and highly-relevant names will not only help locate and re-define the images in the future, but also rank your images high in the search engine results page listings. Thus, try making the file names as descriptive as possible so that both readers and search engines can get an idea of what those images are about. For example, use “image-alt-tag-and-title.jpg” rather than “HD6O_492EL.jpg”.
Watermark Your WordPress Images
Watermarking plays a vital role in projecting an air of authority and building branding over the Internet. Watermark RELOADED is such a handy plugin that adds watermarks for uploaded images with different colors and fonts. As is shown, you will be able to:
- Enable watermark for “Thumbnail”, “Medium”, “Large” and “Fullsize”.
- Edit the text, size, font and color for your watermarks.
- Specify the watermark alignment and offset.
Optimize Your Content Thumbnails
Optimizing image thumbnails is as important as that of protecting your images. Once optimized, the images will load much faster and thus improve the odds to rank better on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol plugin makes it much easier to optimize images for social networks and generate well-executed Facebook meta information.
Set Image Optimization on Your Schedule
Since you have mastered the essences of image optimization, you need to carry out the earlier mentioned practices into a documented and repeatable process. To wrap it up, just follow the listed five-step sequence to increase both page loads and SEO rankings.
- Crop and resize the image accordingly so as to minimize file size and maximum visual impact. Be sure to use the right file format for the job.
- Create a keyword-rich and SEO-relevant name for your uploaded image.
- Add easy-to-understand “Alt Text” to each image, using the HTML “alt” tag or image “alt” attribute.
- Give a concise title for all images, using the image’s HTML “title” tag.
- Do not use the same name, alt tag and HTML title for images. And use cool WordPress plugins or third-party tools to protect and optimize the website images.