How We Define and Identify Images
First, let’s define what ‘Images‘ are for the purpose of this post.
Images include photos, graphics, charts and graphs, GIFs, and screenshots or screen grabs.
Images are great for breaking up text, adding interest, explaining complex ideas, adding beauty, branding your site and more.
Google loves Mixed Media, that’s text and images or videos or other non text content like SlideShare, which are embedded slide presentations.
Since search engines can’t see images (and videos), you need to use the right meta tags to describe them as well as use text surrounding the image so Google and your visitors understand what the image represents.
To start, use images that enhance your post and are relevant to the content. If you can find images that evoke emotion in the reader, they are much more likely to read the whole post.
There are a couple of things you want to do or consider before you upload your image and insert into your post or page.
Before You Upload Your Image
First, rename the image with a relevant name. So if your image file name is DSC00012, that doesn’t tell anyone what the image is about. In my fake example post on SEO, I’m going to upload the SEO Periodic Table of SEO from the Search Engine Land website. So this image is renamed to SearchEngineLand-Periodic-Table-of-SEO-2015-large.png
Then, the file size of the image needs to be considered. Huge file sizes load slowly, so you’ll want to optimize or compress the image to make the file size as small as possible without degrading the image quality.
Remember when we installed the SEO plugins? One of them was the ShortPixel Plugin which is an image compression service. If you want to use this service, you’ll have to sign up for a free account. Just enter your email and you’ll get the API key to activate the plugin.
ShortPixel will compress up to 100 images a month for free on your site. If you have more images than that you need compressed, you can buying a monthly plan starting at $5 a month or a one time payment like 10,000 images for 10 bucks.
There are other plugins that offer similar services, so you can check those out too if you want.
If you don’t want to use a plugin, there are a variety of online services and software you can use to compress your images. If you have Photoshop, you can use that too. I just find it very easy, convenient and affordable to use ShortPixel, plus I don’t have to think about compressing the image before uploading it to my site. If you’re a photographer or a Realtor, or just use a lot of images, this is a huge time saver!
Upload and SEO your Image
Now you can upload your image in insert it in your post or page.
Next, you’ll want to edit the image and add or edit your ‘Alt’ text and title.
Your alt or alternative text is what describes your image to Google. It should contain your main keyword in it and make it clear what your image is about. Your alt text is also what someone sees if they have images turned off in their browser
Your title should be descriptive and relevant to the reader. I like to include my main keyword too, but you shouldn’t count on this information being seen by Google or anyone else for that matter. Some browsers don’t even display the image title text.
Here’s a HOT tip for you.
The title text is used as the image description when someone pins your image on Pinterest. For that reason alone, write a good image description with your main keyword so if your image is pinned, it has an excellent description on Pinterest. You can even include a hashtag if you want. #SEO
Should you use a caption on your image? Only add a caption if it enhances the image or gives important instructions to the reader. If the image stands on it’s own and conveys the message you want, don’t add a caption.
Should you Link to the Media file? ONLY if you are using a lightbox to display images. This is just a pet peeve of mine, when bloggers have their image open in a new tab, or even worse, it opens in the same tab and the reader is taken away from the article!
You could also link to a custom URL since people seem to like to click on images. Only do this if it serves you and your visitor to be taken to a different page. This is a great tactic to use on landing pages and sales page when you want your visitor to take some action like go to the Buy Now button or to the cart.
“Link to none” is a good alternative especially when you wouldn’t want the image to open in a lightbox or send the visitor to another page.
Never link to the Attachment Page!
Use the image CSS class if you understand CSS or if you have a special class for images. Otherwise you can ignore this.
Open link in a new window or tab? Only if you want your reader to be taken away from the page they are on.
If you do want to send them to another page and the page is not on your site, like an affiliate site, enter nofollow in the Link Rel box.
Only use the Link CSS class if you understand CSS or if you have a special class for links. Otherwise you can ignore this.
Click update and you now have an optimized image for you post!
Just FYI, image info is included in the post or page XML sitemap, so there is no need for a separate image sitemap.
Images are an important part of any website. NOT using them almost certainly means failure in today’s world of blogging and SEO. Just think about how popular images are on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. They would be dismal sites with text only.
As the old adage says, “a picture is worth a thousand words“, so carefully select images for your posts that enhance the user experience and add interest to your text. Besides just taking the time to add good pictures to your site, Image SEO only takes a few extra minutes to do, and can pay off in huge dividends.