How To Optimize Your Images For SEO: A Starter Guide

Learn how to optimize your images for SEO with easy, actionable steps. Make your website faster and friendlier to Google with this straightforward guide.

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Before we get to work today, I have a small assignment for you.

Go to your homepage, right click on a few of your images and download them to your computer. Make a note of the file names and the file sizes.

Then come back to me.

Done? Good work. We’ll come back to that.

Now, let’s talk about optimizing your images.

Understanding Image Optimization

Imagine you’ve ordered a gift for someone off of Amazon. It comes in one of those wickedly oversized boxes full of tons of empty space. 

Obviously you’re not going to wrap the grossly oversized outer shipping container, so you remove the inner package prior to wrapping it.

Then, you write a card that has the name of the recipient, maybe a short note about the occasion and your name signed at the bottom. Afterall, you want your buddy to know who the gift came from, right?

Image optimization works kinda the same way.

A photo that comes straight from your photographer or even off your iPhone is packaged in a grossly oversized container.

1) Before you package that up and hand it over to your audience, you need to reduce it’s size to something more manageable.

2) Once you do that, you need to give the image a meaningful title so that Google knows what the image is about and remind it who it came from.

3) And to tie this virtual package up with a bow? Fill out your alt text so that your site is accessible to folks with visually impairments and feed Google a few more details that will help it understand your content.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps:

1) Image File Size And Format

You have to compress your images. 

Small images help your website load faster and website load speed is a ranking factor that Google uses to decide who to spotlight in the top search results.

If you are loading in photos that measure in MEGAbytes, your website is going to run slow as molasses. And Google isn’t going to serve you up in search.

Here are some really quick and dirty guidelines. There’s way more nuance here if you want to go down a rabbit hole.

  • For the main “hero” image on your homepage (the big full-width image at the top of the page, if you have such an image), your image should be no larger than 2500 pixels wide.
  • For the top images in your blog post, your image should be 1200 pixels wide.
  • Everything else, keep it under 1000 pixels wide.

If you’re on a Mac, you can use Preview to resize my images. Personally, I use Affinity Photo. 

Save your images as a .jpg file (not .png), which are the “lightest” file size.

Then drop it into a compression tool like www.compressor.io.

Final image size should ideally be under 100 KB before you upload it to your website.

But do the best you can.

2) Effective File Naming For SEO

Give your images a meaningful file name containing your name and keywords (e.g. pelvic-floor-therapist-Jane-Doe.jpg). 

Separate the words with dashes (not_underscores).

3) Alt Text For Accessibility And SEO

Alt text is descriptive copy that Google displays to folks using screen readers to consume content or if (for any reason) it can’t serve up your image. 

It also provides Google with context to understand your image.

Alt text is important to improve the accessibility of your website and it improves your SEO.

Don’t skip this step.

Include keywords in your alt text and make the description accurate.

Action Steps for Image Optimization

Go back to your list of image names and file sizes that you made at the beginning of this post. 

Are your image names meaningful? Are the file sizes reasonable? 

Take the time to create optimized versions of your website- the effort will pay off in spades.

If you’re retroactively updating your site- pace yourself and do it in stages. One page at a time. 

Every compressed file helps.

If you read this far but you’re thinking, “Wow, this is all overwhelming!”, I’ve got you covered.

SEO is my jam, and I’m here to help simplify things. 

Let’s talk about where YOU should start and how I can lighten your load. Book a free call, and let’s get your SEO on the right track together.

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Laura Jawad, Ph.D. is a personal trainer and birth doula-turned-SEO strategist for female health and wellness providers.

She offers SEO site reviews, SEO coaching and on-page optimization for wordpress users.

Please reach out with questions, schedule a Chemistry call or explore her services page!

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hey, i’m Laura (She/her)

I’m an SEO strategist and systems junkie devoted to helping female health and wellness service providers get found on Google. I’m here to help you fill your client roster without relying on social media.

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