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The 3 basics of Image Optimization for SEO

Marketers often get caught up in the SEO of headlines, meta tags and post intros, and they miss the big picture. Or, should we say they miss the pictures all together.Good SEO involves more than just optimizing the copy and the HTML on a website. Good SEO also includes optimizing images.

Here are the 3 basics of image optimization:

It’s All in the Name

Good image optimization starts before the image is ever uploaded to your site. A fully optimized image is an image that has been saved with the proper name before it’s uploaded.

When you save your images, there are two things to consider: keywords and formatting.

To optimize your images for search engines, save them with keywords that are searchable. Keep in mind; you can use more than one word. In fact, just like keywords used elsewhere, long(er)-tail keywords will be more successful. (Just don’t use more than two or three words.)

But the best keywords will be useless if you don’t name the file properly. To save the file, use dashes (hyphens) not underscores to separate the words. For example:

> GOOD: Angelina-Jolie-Shoes.jpeg

> BAD: Agelina_Jolie_shoes.jpeg

 

Google views dashes like spaces between the words. So the GOOD example will be seen at Angelina Jolie Shoes.

Google views underscores as word joiners; so the BAD example will be seen as Angelinajolieshoes.

The Alternate

Once the image has been named and saved properly, it’s time to upload it. The second level of optimizing images involves telling the search engines exactly what’s in the image. This is called the “ALT tag” of an image.

ALT tags are the description that is shown if the image is not available. It’s also what tells the bots exactly what is in the image, and whether it’s a valuable addition to the page.

There is one last level to optimzing an image; the image “Title Tag.” There’s great debate over whether the image’s title tag has any effect on SEO. The majority of people believe it does not. However, the title tag may be shown in place of the ALT tag when a user hovers over the image, so it’s still consider a best practice to utilize the title tag.

To find out whether your images have ATL tags use this tool: http://www.feedthebot.com/tools/alt/

Image Size

How quickly your site loads will affect your SEO ranking. And the biggest culprit of slow load times is your images. If you’ve uploaded images that are too big (weight not, dimensions) it will slow your page down.

There are several ways to deal with this:

> Save your images in the size they’ll be used on the page. Some web themes and platforms (on WordPress for example, themes) that allow you to upload an image in any size and the service will resize it on the page. This is inefficient because when the page is viewed the server has to download the original size then resize it to be shown. This slows the page load.

> Compress your images before uploading. If the files are really large consider compressing them to a more reasonable size. This will affect quality, so don’t go crazy. There are a number of free image optimizing services that will compress your images.

To test your site’s speed, and to see if images are slowing you down, use this tool:

http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Bottom line is this, if you’re not optimizing your images, you’re missing the bigger SEO picture.

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