Times have shifted and we are no longer in the era of dial-up internet where one had to wait for a long period before a single image could load. With fast internet today, even on mobile devices, you can surf through hundreds of images on search engines and social platforms. This brings to reality a point that every marketer should consider and that is using images to achieve SEO goals. If you use product photos while implementing your marketing campaign, you need to understand how to perfectly optimize these photos for SEO to achieve better rankings. But why should you care about optimizing your photos for SEO?
There are several motivations behind product photo optimization for SEO and these include as enumerated here:
- According to a report released by Pew, 91 percent of online users search for information through search engines
- Search Engine Journal also reported that at least 90 percent of experiences online begin with a search
- Additionally, 51 percent of smartphone users came across a new product or company while conducting a search
With these few points in mind, it follows that product photo optimization is an opportunity in enhancing SEO and should be used as a starting point for boosting your marketing campaigns.
Image optimization explained for SEO
It might sound confusing to note that image optimization has several meanings depending on what you intend to achieve. In our case, the focus is on SEO, so let’s lean towards providing a definition whose foundation is in this space. Image optimization is an SEO technique where you customize images to ensure you target a specific keyword and the objective here is to ensure all elements on your pages work together to achieve the same SEO goal. Now that we have a basic idea of what this entails, it is now time to delve into the process of optimizing images for SEO.
Preparing product images for SEO
After you have chosen the right image to use, the next step is to ensure you do some optimization so it serves as a part of your SEO effort. There are several ways in which you can optimize you product images for SEO and below are the most important that you should know about.
Insert the right file name
Product image optimization for SEO begins with having the right file name. This is the first section to use your keywords. For example, if your image is focused on internet marketing, its file name should not be something undefined like BSD8834NSD.jpg. Rather, it would make more sense to change the file name to internet-marketing-success-tips.jpg. Search is a big part of SEO and when you optimize the file name to feature the main keyword you want to rank in, it boosts the performance of different pages on your website.
Just like file name, alt text in product photos describes the photo, and should therefore include target keywords and full words. In this case however, you don’t need to use hyphens like is required while constructing the file name. You can input a sentence with spaces as long as it carries the target keywords (see example below). When ranking results, Google also considers alt text to ensure the images served have terms related to the search term. However, to get this right, consider these points:
- Be careful not to do keyword stuffing and repeating phrases
- 15 words are sufficient for the alt text
- Don’t use complex English
Example: <img src=“internet-marketing-success-tips.jpg” alt=“internet marketing success tips”/>
Next thing you need to focus on is optimizing the title text of your product photos. This is the text that shows when you hover over a photo. In this section you can include a call to action as shown in the example below.
Example: <img src=“internet-marketing-success-tips.jpg” alt=“internet marketing success tips” title=“subscribe now for expert internet marketing tips”/>
Use relevant images
One more thing you must remember is to use images that are relevant to your product as this is impactful on user experience. You want to showcase your product well so users can understand what you are offering and how they can benefit, so factor this while deciding what images to use on your product photos.
Strategic anchor text
While creating the page on which your image will go, pick the target keywords and use them as anchor text. Using your target keywords to link to your product page helps to increase chances of ranking
Optimize product descriptions
As much as the words you associate your image with are important, you also need to pay attention to using the right words on your descriptions. Make sure your product descriptions accompany the product photos to achieve optimal results. Google scans the entire page and if these elements are brought to work together then you stand better chances at ranking higher.
Reduce file size
In addition to ensuring you follow the above optimization steps, you also should mind about the size of the image. You might be wondering how to achieve this, but there are several tools for that and one that you could rely on is ImageOptim. You could also use websites like PunnyPNG, JPEGMini and Kraken.io. Your image should be scaled down to the smallest file size possible, but while doing it don’t sacrifice too much quality.
Optimize image responsiveness for mobile
Responsiveness is also an aspect of enhancing SEO performance that you should factor in while optimizing your product photos. The goal here is to ensure your images don’t ruin the mobile or tablet experience as this could lead to a higher bounce rate. To accomplish this, you need a number of plugins depending on the platform you are using to host your site. For WordPress, you can use the RIGG Responsive Images plugin that allows you to implement responsiveness. It comes with advanced compression support. Also, the use of picture attribute helps to add the effect to your product images.
Mobile and Tablet Responsiveness Tips to Observe:
- Ensure you don’t take the image from too far as this might make it too small on mobile or tablet.
- Consider choosing a product photo that is bright. Users will be triggered to click through while scrolling through search or your site.
- Simplicity and a white background will also come in handy. Direct more focus on the product.
Twitter Cards and Open Graph
If you are selling some products, it is likely you will want to share posts with the photos on different social platforms. Add this attribute in the section of the page as illustrated: Doing this includes the image in the posts you share on Facebook and Twitter or Pinterest. Instead of sharing plain links, you can let the image occupy the preview section of your shared posts.
You need an XML Sitemap Google encourages that you should also use image sitemaps while optimizing your site for search. Basically, an XML sitemap defined is a list of the pages you have on the site, and this tells search engines the way your content is structured. While generating a sitemap you can employ the XML sitemap technique to offer accurate information about the images included as well as license information. This can boost rankings.
Choose between the three common file types, that is .gif, .png, and .jpg.
JPG is the most common file type and this one is good for smaller file sizes and compression. It offers you a lot of flexibility in image sizing especially when you choose to edit the image using Photoshop. Additionally, it is the most widely supported and offers good quality. However, when compressed a JPEG format can affect quality especially if you fail to save it appropriately. It also fails when it comes to supporting transparent backgrounds.
GIF is a bitmap image format that is used to create simple animations. Its benefits include allowing small sizes and offering support for transparent backgrounds. The only disadvantage is that it only offers support for 256 colors, and this could negatively affect quality.
PNG is an alternative to JPEG that is a bit newer. It also offers good quality and supports transparent backgrounds and allows the flexibility of using different colors for the background. However, the file size is larger and this format is not widely supported, although many browsers have not included it as an image format.
Choose high-quality photos
Quality photos help to encourage click-throughs and give room for more engagement and as long as this behavior is exhibited, Google will continue rewarding you. You can increase your rankings by ensuring more users click through to your site from SERPs.
Do self hosting of product images
Most ecommerce retailers use third party hosting services to store photos and while this saves a lot of space, it considerably reduces bandwidth and has the potential to impact the SEO of your site negatively especially if the images are deleted or blocked by the host. Therefore, it is safer to have your own repository that is secure from all these risks.
Protect your images
You should also secure your images from improper or illegal use. You can allow other people to borrow your images by signing up for a Creative Commons license for attribution. Users who want to use your image can do so through an embeddable HTML snippet that you can supply them. Ensure your target keywords are used as anchor text for the URL.