Using images on WordPress is a great way to elevate your content to the next level. Images help to improve the user experience, adding additional elements and breaking up text. No matter what website builder you use, when used correctly, images can also have an impact on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), helping you to appear well in rankings for your key search terms.
So how can you make sure you’re using images correctly? It’s all in the optimization. Optimizing your images will help to prevent slow load times (large images can cause your website to load slowly) which in turn can impact the overall success of your website. Google uses site load speed as a ranking factor so the last thing you want is for large images to be ruining all the SEO work you’re putting in.
Ideally, you should be optimizing your images before you upload them to WordPress. This helps to ensure there are no duplicate images that can end up having the opposite effect to what you want, slowing down your website. So what do you need to think about when optimizing your images for WordPress?
Image File Types
The two main types of image file types that you’re likely to use are JPEG and PNG and both offer different benefits to your website.
JPEG images are a great way to convert larger images into a smaller format (and thus helping your site load speed) without losing too much of the image information required. Sometimes converting a file into a JPEG can reduce the quality of the file however this reduction is usually minimal and unlikely to be noticed when the image is uploaded to your WordPress site.
PNG’s on the other hand, don’t lose any of the file information when they’re compressed meaning they are often of a higher quality than a JPEG image however they offer much less benefit when it comes to the speed of the website and file sizes. PNG’s can also have a transparent background which makes them super versatile for different page designs and layouts.
Altering the size of your images ensures that you aren’t uploading ones that are too big for your server and causing your website to slow down. Ideally, you want to ensure that your images have as small an amount of pixels as possible without impacting the quality of the image.
When compressing your images you need to think about how they will display on different devices. For example, a large, landscape image may look great on a desktop but when viewed on a mobile device may be cut down to fit the screen.
As well as altering the size of your images, compressing them is important particularly for large, high-resolution images that can have an impact on the overall speed and performance of your site. You can compress your images into JPEG or PNG files or you can choose to use a WordPress plugin to compress your images for you.
Optimizing for Search
Just like you use your keywords to create the written content on your website, you should approach your images in the same way. Keyword-rich pages are likely to perform better in search rankings and you can optimize your images to do the same.
Ensuring the file name is relevant to the content and contains your keywords is important. It can be easy to be tempted to give files a random name but ensuring they are keyword rich and relevant will help them to appear in image search results thus increasing traffic to your website. You can also optimize the alt text and tags on images to bolster performance.
Alternative text or alt text helps search engines and servers to read your image. The alt text is added into the HTML of an image and should describe the image in order to help them appear in search results. Google doesn’t see the image itself it sees the HTML so by making your alt text as relevant and descriptive as possible, you’re giving Google all the information it needs to rank the image and page it sits on.
You can add your alt text directly in WordPress and when doing so it’s important to make sure you feature your keywords to give it the best chance of ranking for your search terms in Google results.
Image tags and captions
As well as optimizing your images for search, you should also make sure your images are optimized for website visitors too. It’s important to not put all of your focus on having an optimized website that ranks well whilst forgetting about the user experience of your site.
Unlike alt text which is in the HTML of the image and therefore not seen by website visitors, image tags and captions are viewed by users. Particularly beneficial for those who are visually impaired, they describe the image in detail. You should approach them the same way you do alt text, describing the image with relevant and keyword-rich content.
If you’re putting a lot of time and effort into the content for your WordPress site then you can’t afford to not be optimizing your images. Improving the overall look of your website as well as site load speed and search rankings, correctly optimizing your images can help to transform your online presence.
About the Author: Lucy Nixon is a digital marketing consultant with almost a decade of experience in helping brands of all shapes and sizes to master their digital marketing strategies.