Handling Images in your SEO Plan!

Images can be worth a thousand words, but it’s up to you to define the ten or twenty that will best represent that Image.  Let’s talk about images, and how they can work with your SEO plan!

Transcript follows

This week’s SEO Tip: An image isn’t worth a thousand words.

There are two factors to consider when including images on your page: Number One, do they get a message across? And Number Two, are they going to do you any harm? By making sure your images load quickly and are tagged properly, they can be a wonderful addition to any piece of content. But if you don’t pay attention to either of those things, you could be in for trouble.

Now, when you’re displaying graphics on a web page, you’re either going to be optimizing for a mobile experience or for a desktop experience, and the reality is—moving into 2018—you better be dealing with a mobile experience. So, let’s assume a maximum width of, you know, 5 or 6 or 700 pixels for a mobile device (give or take anyway). Some of them obviously have a slightly larger screen size but at a minimum let’s say 5, 600 pixels. I want to show four images to you that are all spaced at 400 pixels on the screen. So here are four images: The largest image of this set is a 1080p-sized 1920x1080 pixel png, uncompressed. The smallest of this is a 1920x1080 jpg progressive scan at 25% quality. Visually on the screen you can’t really see the difference. This file is our 1920x1080 png file. This file, right here, which has a slightly reduced contrast, but almost unnoticeable, is this file right here. This is the 1920x1080 progressive scan jpg. Comparing the two files, there are miniscule differences in some of the really fine detail, but otherwise almost no apparent difference. The difference that is apparent is the file size. 1023 kilobytes for the png; 93 kilobytes for the progressive jpeg saved at 25% (actually, I think 30% quality). In any case, you don’t give up a great deal to make these images smaller other than the amount of time required to download them. Why is this important? Mobile speed.

In 2018, Google is likely to continue their trend of favouring pages that treat mobile devices with additional care. The difference between a 1 megabyte download and a 90K download could be in the order of five seconds on some networks. Are you willing to let visitors go because you chose a file format that isn’t help you? This is all about speed, and that thousand words—your images will never deliver them, because the visitors will not stick around. 
Because browsers don’t see images, because search engines can’t index images, whatever image you have is only valuable once someone is looking at it. In order to get value out of that image, you need to use some form of tagging.

HTML already has a tag that’s used for this purpose and it’s called the Alt tag, or the alternate text tag. The tag is used to allow for a description of the content of the image. Now this is a really powerful thing, because it’s used to identify content in your page by search engines and by indexing tools. So if you have a photograph of a cuddly bunny on your page, your alt tag should say “cuddly bunny” and something about the bunny that might relate to your content. So if you have a page about, I don’t know, ski jackets, and you have a picture of a cuddly bunny on that page, I don’t think you want to use “cuddly bunny” as your alt tag, but you could say, “Cuddly white bunny as warm as they would be wearing one of our jackets Model Number blah blah blah.” You get the point. By using the alt tag to reference your content, you’re providing yet another mechanism for your search engine to strengthen its understanding of your page.

What does that mean? Well, a couple of things. Number One, it means that, with any luck, you’ll move up the search page for search rank because you’re doing a good job with your keywords. But it also means that if somebody goes to search for something on Google Images, the likelihood of that image showing up increases based on what you’ve tagged it with. It’s a win/win. They see the image and like it, then they might come to the page. Alt tags equate to keywords for photographs or for images.

So that’s our tip this week. Get those images compressed. Get them fast, and make sure you tag them, or you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Have a great week! We’ll see you next Tuesday. Cheers.