A picture is worth a thousand words and this holds true to a certain degree for blogs. Visual cues and information are often more preferred by people; that’s why incorporating them in your written content is a good way to break the ice. However, it’s not as easy as slapping the pictures in every blank space, you also have to format your images for better search engine optimization (SEO).
Like in written content, certain SEO rules and guidelines also apply to images. You’ll need to follow them if you want your images to be more than momentary respites for your readers. After all, they’re already taking up space and some of your time; you might as well format your images for better SEO ranking.
Hence, we have compiled a useful set of formatting tips so you can format your images after placing melding them into your content. Some of these tips you’ll also have to do even before uploading the images you want to use. Here they are:
Christen your images properly
Once you’ve picked your perfect image regardless of the source (assuming you know how to obtain them responsibly) and downloaded them, don’t upload them just yet. You’ll want to check their file name. If they’re named after their metadata or look like a bunch of numbers or random letters, you may want to change them to something more relevant.
Change the name to something that represents the image properly, if it’s a photo of a tourist spot, rename the image to that. The reasoning behind this, apart from the obvious, is the fact that you want Google to know what the image is all about without having an actual person to check it. It also makes your renamed and uploaded image more likely to pop up in search results. For that to happen, you might also need to include some keywords in the image name which shouldn’t too hard.
Take note of the image format
When looking at the image name, it’s hard to not notice the different file extensions for that image. PNG, JPEG, etc. These are all different image formats which have different purposes. PNG is best for preserving the quality but it’s not the best for slow internet connections; the PNG files are too large. Meanwhile, JPEG doesn’t always keep the image quality intact but has a lower size than PNG.
Generally, you’d want JPEG in order to load or upload the images faster and also so that the viewers will see them faster. They create less strain on the servers because of their small size. However, there are exceptions between the usage of PNG and JPEG. PNG actually has a manageable file size if the image is made out of digital graphics (vectors, infographics, charts, etc.), meaning you can get away with using the PNG format for those types of images. For photos of real-life objects and beings, however, you’ll have to convert to JPEG for their size to be manageable.
Change their file and image size
So, you finally found the right JPEG image but its size still says “MB” (megabytes)? Then check their resolution. It’s no secret that bigger images tend to have larger file sizes, more pixels=more data, after all. Hence, in order to format your images better for SEO ranking, reducing their file resolution and size can sometimes be mandatory.
The biggest reason for this? Not everyone has a blazing fiber internet. That means Google or other search engines have to take into consideration which images load faster. The same goes for the server or host you may be using. Smaller images (both in resolution and file size) tend to load faster, making your website speed better; in turn, it becomes more appealing in the eyes of search engines and viewers.
When in doubt, never go above 1920 x 1080, most people still use that monitor or phone screen resolution these days, meaning there’s no need for bigger pictures. No need to go crazy with 4K yet, much less 8K. Also, for general images a landscape format that has an aspect ratio of 2:1 (in pixels) is preferable to the regular phone and computer user. This leads us to another point…
Make them mobile-friendly
Some people are simply more warm to the idea of using their phones to view websites or browse the internet. After all, they’re less cumbersome than computers. In that regard, you will need to format your images with mobile users in mind. That means smartphones, iPhones, and other communication devices whose screens all vary in resolutions.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to remedy the different screen sizes of phones. When adding images to your content, you can simply add the “srcset” attribute (without the quotation marks) to your images. If you’re using any WordPress version above 4.4, this is done automatically. If not, then you’ll have to check if your content management system supports that capability. What this does is create different images sizes of any image you uploaded to the media library; it lets the browser choose which image to download and display for the user to view.
Essentially, this saves bandwidth and makes the images more responsive, therefore more mobile-friendly.
Captions are essential
If your image is a little too confusing and doesn’t go with the written content’s flow, you can bet that the readers will also be confounded by the wild photo. That’s why captions are necessary sometimes- they add more context to your uploaded images. This practice of describing whatever’s in the photo or adding a little background information about it is especially crucial for news sites.
Blogs can get away with not naming images, especially if they’re stock, but readers tend to scan for images with text or captions. If they’re in a hurry or are impatient, they might simply go to the images and having a caption accompanying it will make your site more user-friendly. Sometimes the captions themselves are even read more than the body of the article. Of course, it’s best to do it in moderation and only for images that make sense to have their own captions.
Alt text is also needed
Alt text serves a different yet equally important purpose as the caption and it’s best to fill them out. If the image cannot be displayed due to some unforeseen error, settings, or slow internet connection on the viewers’ end, the alt text or the image’s title or name will come to the rescue. It will be shown in the event that the image fails to load so that the readers will still be presented with information.
Additionally, adding the SEO keyword to the alt text is a good practice to boost your SEO. Just make sure it is necessary or relevant; don’t overdo it since oversaturating with keywords can actually lower your SEO score.
Optimize for social media shares
Often, using your content, written or otherwise will be shared on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. You will then want to make sure that you have the proper HTML tags or code for your image to appear harmonically with the social media share of your content. WordPress can have a way of handling this automatically and effortlessly, for other systems, you’ll want to make sure you see this to the <head> section of your content’s HTML:
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/link-to-image.jpg” />
That will ensure the image you want to display is included every time your content is shared.
This one doesn’t exactly have any technical SEO benefit but you’ll want to do it nonetheless. It’s something you do for your audience, meaning it can improve their user experience and give them more encouragement to stay on your website. It all depends on how you align your image. Generally, aligning images to the center is good for mobile devices since it provides uniformity.
Still, you can’t go wrong with aligning to the left. Pick which one’s more aesthetically pleasing or more behaviorally sound (based on reading behavior). Several factors could influence your image alignment such as text thickness or image resolution, but as long as you don’t pick an eyesore, then the images should be fine.