Bloggers tend to focus on writing and pay less attention to images.
Yes, if your article is mainly text-based and images are only complimentary, probably it won’t matter anyway because people won’t search for them.
But in a niche where an image speaks volume – fashion, travel and food come to mind – you can’t forget about optimizing images.
It is an important part of On-page SEO Optimization and help you get ranked on Google and drive traffic as well.
In fact, I’ve written a hotel review and one image I have on the blog post shows up at the top of Google Image Search when I search the name of this hotel.
From regular user perspective, when I want to buy a sneaker, I usually want specific color. So, I use Google Image Search to see how they look.
That goes to show you that image optimization is important. So, you should definitely learn how to optimize images for your WordPress website.
What Is Image Optimization?
Ok, I am going to simplify this. You do two things in order to optimize an image.
- Change the image/file size so that images will load fast on a browser
- Add information (text) to the images so that hopefully they will come up near the top of Google Image Search (or even in a regular search images can show up near the top) and that might help you get more clicks
So, Image Optimization is about making images load faster and easier to be found in search engines.
If you want to squeeze every little bit of traffic out of the page, not only should you optimize texts on the page but also images.
Fortunately, optimizing images doesn’t involve a complicated process. You just need to follow a few simple steps.
Before you do that on WordPress, let’s take a look at each component that makes up Image Optimization.
1. Alt Text
Alt text is the most important part of image optimization if not one of the most.
Normally, you cannot see an alt text when you visit a website and look at an image.
But you see the text inside the frame of an image when the Internet connection is slow and images don’t load.
I am pretty sure you’ve seen it.
When humans see an image, whether photo, graphic, chart or illustration, they recognize what it is. But the Google bot doesn’t have ability to see it.
So, alt text is a way to let the bot know in words what the image is about.
How would you write an alt text?
It should describe what the image is about.
If you have multiple images on the page, you should have a keyword in one of them. Other alt texts should simply describe what the image is about.
This is also used for a visually impaired person to be able to understand what the image is about with the help of screen readers.
As far as the length, Matt Cutts of Google suggests 7 words should be enough. So, don’t go overboard and try to stuff keywords.
If you are wondering where you actually put an alt text, don’t worry. I will get to it in just a bit.
2. File Name
By default the file name of a picture you take with a digital camera or smartphone normally would look something like DSC_001.
Or maybe you grabbed a free stock photo on the Internet and its file name is longer than you like it to be.
If that is the case, you need to change the file name to let Google know what the image is about. Just like an alt text, you do this so that search engines will understand what it is.
A few things to keep in mind when renaming an image.
You can’t use an underscore to separate words. An underscore doesn’t act as a word separator.
Instead, you need to put dash between words, which helps Google understand there is a space between words.
If you don’t use dash and just leave a space like normal writing, Google will think of it as one word and it will turn into a word that doesn’t make sense.
Obviously, that’s not what you want, so make sure to put dash to separate words.
One last thing about the file name is NOT to have the exact same name as the alt text, which can result in over-optimizing, and it can be detrimental.
3. Use Images In the Right Context
When you use an image on the page, you want to use a picture that is relevant to the context around it.
Google will check whether an image and texts that surround it match contextually, so do take that into consideration and try to use an image appropriately where it makes sense.
Caption is what readers are going to see underneath the image. While this doesn’t hold too much SEO weight, it can add the details to an image. So, add something if it helps the readers.
4. Page Load Times
In recent years this topic has been talked about a lot as one of the important SEO factors.
Amazon estimated, that a page slowing down for only a second can cost $1.6 billion of sales every year.
While you may not be a big brand like Amazon, it’s still super important that you reduce the file size, so a visitor to your site doesn’t have to wait for 5 seconds.
5. File Size / Image Size
File and image size are important because a larger and heavier image takes longer to load.
Just in case you are wondering:
- File size = Weight of a file
- Image size = length and width of an image
When you upload a large image on the page, the size may appear smaller than the original, but the file size is still the same.
So, how do you reduce the size?
First, you want to reduce the image size with an image editing software.
These tools will reduce the file size while still maintaining the quality.
What you need to do is reduce the size before uploading so it loads faster.
Obviously, a larger image can retain the details, but a large image can slow down the loading time considerably.
So, you reduce the image size as small as possible at a level you are still happy with the quality.
Then if you compress it, you don’t lose quality while keeping the dimension the same.
Image Editing Software
As for editing tools, both Windows and Mac have pre-installed image editors. So, if you just want to resize the image, they will do the job.
If you are more into retouching, Photoshop may be ideal, but for most people, the cost is too steep and you don’t need that many advanced features it offers. I think Photoshop Element is a good alternative and affordable.
You want something even more affordable?
The one I highly recommend is called Affinity Photo, which is a great Photoshop alternative and very affordable. I think it’s about $60.
I don’t have Affinity Photo but I have Affinity Designer, which is a great Illustrator alternative.
Years ago I used to have Photoshop and Illustrator but I am happy with Affinity Designer.
They are available for both Mac and Windows.
6. File Type
If the image you are going to use is a photo, JPEG is the better choice as it is much lighter than PNG. Yet, it retains high quality even when it is compressed.
Compared to JPEG, PNG is heavier. PNG is often used for illustration and screenshot
7. Image Title Attribute
This is the text that pops up when you hover the mouse on an image. It should be short and describe additional information.
How to Optimize Images for Your WordPress Website
Ok, now that you understand each component of Image Optimization, let’s take a look at how you actually go about optimizing them on the WordPress blog post or page so that your image will show up in the Google Image Search and hopefully someone will click it!
1. Edit the Image
If the image size is large, reduce the size and compress it down to at least under 100k.
2. Rename the File Name
Make it descriptive and put dash between words.
3. Upload a File and Write alt Text
There are two places where you can fill out an alt text and some other info.
On Media Library
If you have already uploaded images on Media Library, select the image you want to optimize. You see a box where you can write an alt text.
On a Blog Post
You can write it when you upload an image on the blog post.
If you want to edit the image that is already on the post or page, click the image and then an Edit button (pencil icon).
4. Write Image Title Attribute
Below the alt text and caption, you see additional information, Advanced Options.
You want to fill out Image Title Attribute. This is the text you see when you hover the cursor over the image.
As far as SEO, although Google says they only focus on alt text as a ranking factor, you shouldn’t forget it completely. It still has benefits.
It takes only a few seconds, so why not do it anyway, right?
Even if your images are not important part of your content, it is only going to help. When you post your blog post on on social media, an image will be shown together, so having attractive images definitely help you stand out.