You’ve written a fabulous blog post, placed the right keywords in your heading and throughout your article, and found a great image for your post. It’s time to hit publish so thousands of possible readers can find out how amazingly smart, well-informed, and educated you are, and how pithy your writing.
But, wait, did you optimize images in your blog post?
“You mean I have to optimize images in order to boost my posts’ rankings in search engines, or for people to want to read it?” you ask.
Yes, you do.
There are a variety of factors that affect SEO in regard to images. From size, to correct titles, tags and alternative text, to where you place an image, all influence search engine optimization. Following are recommended ways to optimize images for your blog posts so you can reach those thousands of admiring readers.
How to Optimize Images for Your Blog Post
Tell Your Story
The very first thing to consider is does your image illustrate what your blog post is about? The image you choose, whether it be a stock photo, an illustration, or a graphic you created with a tool like Canva, should tell the reader what your article is about without them having to read a word of your post. While Google can’t “see” your photo, the search engine giant recommends that images be relevant and match the title, caption and other text.
The first image should attract the eye, and make the reader want to know more. If you do choose a stock photo, upload it to Canva or use Photoshop, and add the title of your post to it. Also add your company logo or URL address at the bottom in smaller text, so when people share, or use your image elsewhere your company or brand is automatically represented and credited.
Scale & Compress
A big factor that can affect SEO is page speed, so before you upload your image to your site, scale and compress the image. If you use WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that will compress an image as you upload it. Tinyjpg is a free compression tool that compresses your jpeg or png files before uploading them to your site. They also have a WordPress plugin, which allows you to compress 100 images per month for free. Other free WordPress image compression plugins are EWW Image Optimizer and WP Smush. To check page speed load times use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.
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Use Unique Titles
Most people will upload their photos without entitling them, but Google’s search engine uses titles, captions and alt text to determine what a photo is about and its relevancy to your content and search terms.
For instance, a digital camera will output photos labeled with numbers like DC6765.jpeg. That doesn’t tell Google, or users, anything about the photo or the post it accompanies. Again, if you use WordPress, when you upload a photo, you have a chance to retype a new title, add a caption, and alt text as well. If you don’t use WordPress, rename and add alt text to your photo with Photoshop or another image editing tool before uploading to your site.
The text surrounding a photo, and captions also impact SEO as well as a reader’s comprehension of your subject matter.
Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to make sure that images are placed near the relevant text. In addition, we recommend providing good, descriptive titles and captions for your images.” — Google
Use Alt text
Alt text, the behind the scenes description of a photo that you can see before an image renders on a screen, is one of the most important factors in optimizing your images. It tells Google search what your photo is about so the search engine can correctly index it along with your content. Also, if your image has alt text, those who can’t see the image, such as the visually impaired or users with slow connections, will be able to know what the image is about.
An alt tag looks like this: < img src=”http://www.example.com/” alt=”hotel in Palm Springs California”>.
In this example, if I had just put “hotel” as the alt tag, it leaves out a very important factor, that the image is about a hotel in Palm Springs, not just anywhere in California. Using an appropriately descriptive alt text description, with keywords, will up the chances of people who are searching for a hotel in Palm Springs finding your post.
Place your main image at the top of your blog post, and use images throughout the rest of your post, if possible. We are mainly image-oriented readers now, so the more you can visually tell your story the better.
Size Your Images
Specify width and heights for your images, so Google can start rendering a page before your image loads. WordPress users can choose recommended sizes or customize the image size upon uploading, or afterward.
Create an Image Sitemap
Going beyond your individual posts, help Google find your carefully optimized images by creating an image Sitemap. Here are detailed instructions from Google on how to add images to an existing Sitemap.
If you sell photographs online for your living, of course, you won’t follow this recommendation and will mark all you content as copyrighted. But if this is not a concern, and you’re creating content to gain greater exposure for your business, allowing others to reuse your images can help. License your photo through Creative Commons, and require attribution and a link back to your site. You can see an example of this type of attribution in the title image of this post.
Properly optimized images help boost the discovery of your content by search engines and users. Take your time in creating or choosing the right image to illustrate your blog posts, and follow the best SEO practices by Google to optimize images for greater reach and discovery.
Over to you. Do you have anything to add? Anything to ask? Let me know in the comments section below.
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