How (and why) to optimise images on your blog
October 14, 2019
When designing a website and making your blog posts look appealing, you will want to include lots of lovely imagery on your site. Images help to break up the text and make blog posts easier to read, as well as helping to improve the overall design of the site.
If you set up your blog correctly, images can also help to improve the SEO of your site and push it higher up the search engine result pages. But you need to make sure that you optimise your images correctly to avoid impacting your blog negatively. Read on for more information…
What is image optimisation?
Optimising images on your website or blog is the process of reducing the file size of your images as much as possible without compromising on the quality of the image. Image optimisation helps page load times remain low and your images to rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Why do you need to optimise your images?
Heavy imagery can really slow down a website and end up frustrating your visitors – almost half of web users will leave a website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds!
A slow website also ruins your chances of appearing at the top of the search engines, Google’s algorithm favours websites that load quickly.
Smaller files will also use up less space on your server and allow your website backups to run faster.
The good news is that there are various ways optimise the images on your blog:
Use keywords in your image names
When uploading your images it’s important to make sure they are named correctly. If you keep the default name set by your camera then you need to start changing this now!
In the same way that you use relevant keywords in your blog posts and titles, you also need to include these keywords in your images as search engines crawl your image file names as well as the text on your site. Think about the content of the image and what keywords you can use to describe it.
For example, naming the below photo “pink-raspberry-popsicles.jpg” rather than “Image001.jpg” is going to help it to appear higher up in the search results.
Reduce the file size of your images
As mentioned at the start of this post, half of web users won’t wait around longer than 3 seconds for a website to load so it’s really important you don’t add large images to your posts that will slow your site down.
The larger the images, the longer they will take to load. As a rule, images on the web should be between 80Kb-100Kb in size.
How you reduce the file size of your images will depend on the photo editing software that you’re using. Picmonkey and Canva both have options to alter the quality of the image before saving which will also alter the overall size of the file.
Whatever photo editing app you use, if given the option, you should choose to save your image ‘for the web’ as this will create a smaller file than an image saved for print.
If you’re still unsure how to reduce the size of images in a photo editing app. you can download a plugin such as WP Smush which will reduce file sizes after you have uploaded the image.
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Use the right file type
The file types used most often are .jpg, .png, and .gif.
JPEG/jpg images are used most often as images can be compressed into small file sizes whilst still creating good quality images. However, the more times the image is saved the worse the quality of the image will be.
PNG images don’t lose quality with re-saves like JPEGs do, however, the file sizes are usually much larger than JPEG images.
GIF files only use 256 colours so aren’t ideal for high-quality photos but are the best choice for animated images.
As a rule, you should use JPEG for images with lots of colour, PNG for highly detailed images, and GIF for animated images.
Optimise image alt attributes
When a website can’t load an image correctly it will show the alt tags in place of the image. Alt tags are also used for web accessibility, for the blind and visually impaired.
These alt attributes can be seen if you hover the mouse over an image and are a good way to tell both users and search engines what your images are about.
In addition to helping the users of your website, adding carefully written alt attributes will also help with SEO. Use relevant keywords in your image alt tags as you did with the file name will help your images to rank higher on search engines.
If you use these tips to optimise your images by reducing the file size, naming your images correctly, adding alt attributes, and using the right file types you will help your site to load quicker and improve the SEO.