How to Optimize Images for SEO?

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Recent Google updates have increasingly elevated the value of visual search.

Why is it so important to optimize images?

Images are an SEO-promoting tool. Visuals can affect page load speed and behavioral factors. When approached wisely, they can improve your site's search engine rankings, increase visitors' interest, and allow your store to get ahead of the competition.

What are the basic requirements for e-commerce images in 2022?

Format

Google indexes image types in BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, and WebP, SVG formats. So which format to use?

SEO experts recommend to use following formats:

  1. JPEG for photos. 
  2. PNG for graphics.
  3. SVG for vector images.

There are also WebP and JPEG-XRformats that have the advantage of weighing less.

Quality

Users want beautiful pictures to "feel" the product from all sides, see every detail.— they weigh a lot, and this in turn affects the speed of loading pages and may have a negative impact on the position of products in SERPs. It is all about image optimization

Keep in mind that content is primarily intended for the user. That is why it is important to find the best solution between size and quality when optimizing images.  

Make sure that the illustrations are clear and visually appealing. But this is not the only criterion for picture quality and you should optimize images for web as well. A picture that doesn't fit its description or is located near unrelated text is also considered of poor quality. 

Size

You should keep one main principle while choosing the best size for e-commerce product images: images should be created in the size in which they will be presented on the site.

In the CSS, write the width and height of the image, and don't forget to add images in 2x size for Retina displays. It's also important to configure different sizes of the same image for different screens. It will help to display images without a visual loss of quality. 

How to optimize on-page images?

Here're key points you should pay attention to during e-commerce image optimization:

File name

Give a brief, appropriate description in the name of the image file so that search engines will recognize the content of the image,

It is important to use Latin letters and hyphens instead of spaces in the file name. Keywords should be as relevant as possible and describe the essence of the picture.

Storage

Store pictures that are similar in meaning in the same directory with the appropriate name. 

Placement

Search engines consider the image's relevance to the query based on the text next to it. this means that the text must be related to the image by meaning.

Important point: search engines do not scan text in pictures - do not put important information as images. 

Backlinks

Search engines take into account the anchors of links to images from external resources. Therefore, build external anchor links to images.

Anchor text must match the content of the image:

<a href="https://somewebsite.com/smartphone/wallpaper.jpg"> Smartphone wallpaper</a>

Alt meta tag

Alt is an alternative text description of the image. If alt is missing and the image does not load, then users will see the wrong information, and search bots will scan an empty page.

Alt tag plays the following role in optimization:

  • Screen Readers use the alt tag to explain the content of pictures to people with vision problems. 
  • Search engines use alt text to properly index the image and determine the best image for the user's query.

The easiest way to fill the attribute — alt = "Product name". This will give the search engine minimal information about the object in the photo and will not lead to negative consequences. 

To make the alt unique, you can add a clarification: "back view", "front view". 

Keep in mind that overspamming with keywords is bad for optimization, which also applies to alt tags. 

Sitemap

Search engines still may not have (or may not want to spend) resources to index images and display them in search. Add a sitemap-image.xml image map in addition to the main sitemap to display all the content, even in the scripts. To do this, you must include links to all the images on your page in your sitemap files (in <url>), using the <image:image> container with the <image:loc> tag.

Markup

Micro markup will help search engines and users better understand what content your images are relevant to. 

Schema.org will allow you to add special tags to images. That will improve the presentation of the site on Google pages and widen the snippet in search results. Schema.org allows you to pull information into a snippet and make it easier for search engine crawlers to identify it. 

Uniqueness

Create unique images. Search engines value original content to show users more diverse results.

This can be done with the help of an in-house photographer who will do their content, stock photo websites, or an in-house designer. 

In case of stock photos, it is important to remember that even a picture purchased from a photo stock has a license. There are different licenses and you should read them carefully when buying an image. For example, you may not be allowed to use the photo for commercial purposes or make any changes to it. 

In the end

Visual search continues to grow and adapt to the needs of users. The tips above are designed to help you with that, but remember the main thing — when creating and optimizing images, follow the guiding principle that quality and value of content are the priority.

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