People love pics. Get the best from your website images in a few simple steps.
Here are 4 easy-to-remember points that you can sing to your favourite line dancing tune each time you add an image to your website.
1. Name ‘Em
Give you images a meaningful name. Google and other search engines will take image file names into account when indexing your site. Google images search is well worth leveraging as part of your SEO plan.
The image file name is a good place for that keyword to let Google know what your image is about.
Some things to remember when naming your images:
- Use lowercase text
- Separate words with a dash or underscore
- Don’t use special characters (use only 0-9 & a-z)
- Keep them to a manageable length
Good image file names will help your images become marketing assets.
2. Shrink ‘Em
A critical factor in SEO is the time it takes to load your web page. The faster the better. So compressing your images is important.
Significant savings in file size can be made to most images without any discernible loss in quality. Images used on the web don’t need to be the same quality as those used for print.
Part of this process will probably involve resizing your images appropriately. For example, you won’t need to upload an 3200px wide image if it’s only going to be displayed at 400px wide.
If you want better control of the process use a serious program like Photoshop, or its free open source equivalent, the GIMP.
The GIMP is widely used and tutorials are only a Google search away.
Hot tip – if you’re dealing with a typical photo, the JPG format will usually be the best option. If it’s a graphic with not many colours, PNG will sometimes give better compression results. Avoid GIFs (unless it’s an animation of course) and TIFFs.
3. Tag ‘Em
When it comes to actually placing your images onto a webpage there are some other things to think about. First up is the ‘alt tag’.
What is it? The alt tag sits in the bit of HTML code which tells your browser to render an image. A simple version of that code with an alt tag might look like this:
<img url=”/img/lensify-200×200.jpg” alt=”a 50mm camera lens”>
The alternative text tag should describe what is in the picture. Keep in mind that it will be read by machines and humans. It’s used to improve the accessibility of websites.
For example, if the images are not being displayed on a page for whatever reason, the alt tag text will display in its place. Screen readers will also use the alt tag to help the vision impaired better understand your page – they will read the alt tag text where your image is placed in the flow of the page text.
Google also factors the alt tag into search results, so key words in the alt tag – if they’re appropriate – can be a good thing.
If you’re using something like WordPress there is an alt tag field you can fill in when adding images to a post or page.
The title tag is a little bit like the alt tag. When there is a title tag associated with your image it will usually show up when hovering over the image. Add one if you think it will enhance the usability of your image. But don’t use the same text as your alt tag.
There is a bit of a debate around whether to use title tags these days. While WordPress still has a title field on its media uploader, by default it no longer inserts them into its image code – which is a good indicator that you may be better off focusing on other things. Like the alt tag.
4. Own ‘Em
If you use someone else’s copyrighted image on your website, you may get sued. Best not to find out, so skip Google Images, Pinterest etc. as a place to find pics to enhance your blog post. Tempting though it is.
If you have guest posts or people submitting images to your website, it’s important to make sure they have ownership of, or a license to use, the image – or it’s in the public domain/open source. Remember, you’ll be the one facing legal action because it’s your site.
No – “someone else gave me that image Your Honour” won’t work.
There’s a bunch of other things to talk about when it comes to choosing and using images on your website. Another post may be on the cards.
If you want to read up on the more technical aspects of image optimisation, places like this are a good start.
The main thing is – take the time to get your images right. People love images, but the bar is set high these days. We expect high quality images that do the job and load quickly.
If you need some image work done, I’d be happy to help. I take the odd photo and work on image post-processing pretty much every day.