Formatting images for SEO
I know, I know, it seems like there’s always just one more thing you need tweak to make your blog more search engine friendly, but it’s worth it if it helps improve your ranking. This time we’re going to talk about formatting the images you put in your posts. Apparently those little Google bots never heard a picture’s worth a thousand words.
Improve Your Load Time, Improve Your Ranking
Did you know that every single image associated with your blog has its own URL? Well, it does. Just go to any image on your blog, right click on it, and select “view image online.” See that URL up there in the address bar? That’s where you image lives on the Web.
Did you also know that every time someone lands on any post or page on your blog, or if they refresh the page, or if they click one of your links to go to another page, your entire blog has to reload. And that includes all of your images because each image has it’s own URL, just like your posts and pages.
When your blog is still new and you don’t have a lot of images yet, this really isn’t a problem. But as you add more and more images your blog starts to slow down each time it reloads. It may be just a fraction of a second at first, but eventually it becomes quite noticeable.
And that’s when the trouble starts. Your visitors don’t have the patience to sit there and wait for your blog to load, so they just leave. And the real kicker is, Google sees that slow load time, and they see those visitors leaving your blog, and it negatively impacts your ranking.
One simple change will have a huge impact. All you need to do is minimize your images before you upload them to your blog. Most bloggers simply upload an image, no matter how large it is. 800 pixels wide, 1,000, even 1,600. In most cases they don’t even realize the images are that large because most blogging platforms will automatically resize the image so it looks good in your post.
The fact that your blogging platform also has to work overtime resizing your images also increases your load time, which increases your bounce rate, which makes Google very unhappy. So the best thing you can do is reduce the size of your images before you upload them to your blog.
Use Alt Tags To Label Your Images
Even with all of Google’s seemingly magical powers of perception, those poor little bots still don’t have the capability of “reading” an image. Those bots don’t actually “look” at your blog, they simply scan the textual content and some of your code, like your H1 and H2 tags and your meta tags.
However, if you include a brief keyword-rich description in your image tags, those bots will recognize it and they’ll index your image accordingly. Remember, each of your images has a URL. But with no textual description to read, the bots can’t tell what your image is.
When you upload your images, (which you’ve already minimized, right?) most platforms give you the opportunity to also include image tags. Use the same keyword you’re using in the corresponding blog post and keep it brief. In the past, unscrupulous bloggers would stuff these tags with keywords, so be careful, Google watches for that.
If your platform doesn’t automatically perform this function, you can also hand-code image tags like this:
<img src="http://dukeo.com/images/writing-articles.jpg" alt="Your Keywords" width="75" height="100" />
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Who would have thought that two little image formatting changes could have such a huge effect on your WordPress SEO?