How to Optimize Images for Google Search
how to optimize your website images for google search
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Optimized Images Help Build Relevance

Images grab attention, break up text, and keep visitors on your page. But if you’re not optimizing your images for Google, you’re missing the opportunity to create a more user and SEO-friendly site. Google’s search engine also indexes optimized images in an effort to give users a visual representation of solutions to queries. In regard to your website, they add additional context to on-page content when done properly.


What are Image Alt Tags?

HTML image tags add information to your images. Online images can contain text in a file name, image title, or caption, but alt tags are the most important for Google. Search engine algorithms read code. Although a Google crawler can see the attributes of your image, it cannot process visual information. Instead, crawlers rely on the ALT attribute or a brief description of your image content.

When writing image alt tags, avoid general, one-word descriptions. Instead, aim to provide a useful description to your audience. Blind or visually impaired visitors use screen readers that include audio of your image attributes. A simple but descriptive tag like “Chihuahua in a pink tutu” is enough to be useful to your audience and Google crawlers.


Write Relevant Image File Names

Whether you’ve optimized them or not, all your images have a file name. Your audience won’t see this text, but search engine crawlers can. Ensure your file names are working for you by replacing names like “IMG00032952” with brief, descriptive phrases like “Apple logo.”


Use Keywords in Image Title Tags

After filing in alt descriptions, many site owners wonder if title tags are necessary. While Google places the most emphasis on alt tags, they do consider title tags if present. Treat title tags as an opportunity to present additional information or use a keyword variation. In our Chihuahua example, your image title might be “dog in a tutu,” your file name “funny dog,” and your alt tag “Chihuahua wearing a pink tutu while standing on its back legs.” Now your image contains three pieces of text for Google to read.


Add Captions When Appropriate

Almost everyone is familiar with captions, but do you need them on your website? The choice is up to you. Use captions only if they’re needed to explain your image or if they provide additional value. Google processes captions as information associated with your image, but alt tags remain the most important image attribute.


Image Optimization Makes a Difference

Once you’ve made it easy for the Google algorithms to process your image, it’s important to optimize the image itself. You need to consider quality, size, and load time when optimizing your image. In most cases, business owners can reduce the size of their images to improve site speed. There are also ways to optimize your file types and times to avoid images altogether.


When to Avoid Images

Images can help improve readability and keep your audience’s attention, but in some cases, it’s best to use an image alternative. Images take up a large amount of storage and slow load times. Today your website must load quickly to keep a visitor on your page. If a page takes too long to load, users will leave without ever seeing your beautiful images. Different internet speeds, browsers, and devices can also lead to slow image loads.

To keep your site speed high, consider web fonts or CSS effects for images that contain text. You can choose from a wide variety of web fonts and use CSS features like shadows or gradients to make your text pop. These effects retain their integrity at different sizes and zoom percentages but use fewer bytes than an image.


Which Image File Type Should I Use?

Consider whether you can use vector or raster images. Raster images come in formats like JPEG and PNG and preserve more details. Vector images are in SVG and are “zoom and resolution independent,” meaning they won’t become blurry no matter how much you zoom in. Vector files are ideal for websites, but work best for simple images made primarily of lines and geometric shapes. A complex image with several colors and gradients will become blocky and pixelated if converted to vector.

Among raster images, there are three universally-accepted file types: JPEG, PNG, and GIF. Use GIF if you need to include animations. PNG preserves the most detail but uses a larger file size than JPEG. If your image is fairly simple, use JPEG. However, if preserving your image and presenting it at the highest possible quality is what you need, choose PNG.


Image Optimization Improves SEO

When formatting images for Google’s algorithms, consider image alt tags and image optimization. Adding descriptive text to images gives crawlers and users a clear understanding of your visual content. Optimizing your images by choosing the best format and file type keeps your quality high enough for your purposes while loading as quickly as possible for your audience.

To learn more about website optimization and SEO best practices, contact our team at Creative MMS today.

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