Do Optimized Images Matter for Search Engines?
As we work with our clients on WordPress maintenance and migration projects, we are increasingly often asked about Search Engine Optimization. As you know, SEO tactics and techniques are continually changing as Google and other search engines refine their algorithms to provide smarter and more relevant search results.
But there are optimization standards that remain rock solid.
Original and relevant Content is still King, but you should also be sure to focus on a standardized SEO structure for images across your entire site.
How to Optimize your Images
Below you’ll find some tips for optimizing your images both outside and inside of WordPress.
The list below should be considered baseline standards for every single image on your site.
But first, let’s have a look at an image that has just been uploaded into the WordPress Media Library that has not been optimized.
Notice the file size listed above. 1920×1080 is pretty huge for a simple example image and completely unnecessary for most use cases. My personal approach is to use an image width of no larger than 1000px and I usually scale down my images in a program like Photoshop or GIMP before uploading into WordPress.
Another reason for editing my images in a 3rd party program before uploading is so I can ensure the actual file name that is used for the image. When an image is imported into WordPress, the Title field is automatically filled with the file name.
See the file name and the Title in the image above? Do you think search engines should be reading a date and string of unrelated numbers as the title of your image? Of course not.
It’s irrelevant and not useful.
Whether or not you change the actual file name, you should always enter a Title that makes sense to the content of your image.
Captions are another opportunity to add context to your images, especially for your site visitors. Many (if not all) WordPress themes display the text in the Caption field on the front end of the site as seen in both the before and after images.
Captions are an opportunity to help your visitors understand the content above and below them, especially if they’re more visual readers and tend to scan images as they scroll through a post.
Alt Text is used in place of your image if the image can’t be found for some reason. This text also indexed by search engines and is a great opportunity to inform Google and other search engines some additional information about an image as it relates to the content of your page.
This field gives you yet another opportunity to elaborate on the Title and Alt Text to provide more detailed information about an image. This can be especially useful to the reader when seen on a single image attachment page or through a screen reader.
Properly Optimized Image Example
And here’s a properly optimized image with a smaller file size and all available fields completed.
Are you optimizing your images?
In an upcoming post, we’ll go through some additional tools and resources for image optimization.