Adding images can not only increase the time your visitors spend on a page, since it makes your articles easier to read, but also the chances they would share the article, since it makes the content more engaging.
In this blog, we will discuss ways on how to name images and optimize images for SEO, so they can appear in image search results.
Naming image files
Let's start with something that needs to be done before uploading the images to your website: naming image files the right way. Lots of content creators upload images with the automatic file name provided by the camera, which is the worst thing you could do for SEO. Make sure the file's name describes what's in the image. Try to use five words or less and separate them with hyphens, which are easier for the search bots to understand. Ideally, the file's name should contain your main focus keyword. You shouldn't stuff focus keywords, like creators used to do. Nowadays, Google considers this spam.
Optimize for size
You need to make sure your images are optimized for size. This means both image size and file size. Image size regards the dimensions, measured in pixels. On the other hand, file size is the amount of space required to store it on the server, measured in bytes. When we talk about files, we usually say they are heavy or light, instead of big or small. The bigger an image's dimensions, the more space it takes up. Consequently, it will take longer to load, and every second your page takes to load can cost you visitors. The goal is to make your pages load as fast as possible, while maintaining decent image quality.
Our first suggestion is to use proper image sizes for each screen, so visitors on mobile devices do not have to wait for a big image to load on a small screen. Ideally, you should optimize the original image so its dimensions aren't bigger than the largest possible size before uploading it to your website. That way, you need not waste space on your server. WordPress already creates several versions of the images
you upload in different sizes. You can define the dimensions in the admin panel.
Go to Settings - Media. Be sure to save all the changes you make.
You can also use TypeStack for your blogs and content, it auto optimizes images for SEO, so you don’t have to go through the hassle.
Even though this is technical data, you should carefully consider if you want to remove it, because Google has stated that they may use EXIF data as a ranking factor for Google Images. For the images that are already on your server, you can use plugins such as WP Smush, ShortPixel, and Imagify.
The alternative text helps search engine bots determine what an image is all about. It appears as a tag in the source code and it's shown on the front end, when the images on a page fail to load. Also, people who use assistive devices to navigate the web use the alternative text as a description of the image. You can define the alternative text by opening the image to edit, whether that's in your post, or in WordPress' admin panel, by going to the media library and clicking on it. Follow the same recommendations as the file name. Describe your images in plain, simple language, but now, instead of hyphens, you should separate the words with spaces. Keep it short, but descriptive, and don't stuff your alt attributes full of keywords. In product pictures, besides describing what's in the image, you can include a serial number or unique identifier, if it's something that people would search for to find that product. This is done to reinforce the clear relationship between your product pages and images and searches that people are performing based on the related searches for a query.
Captions can also be used by Google to better understand images. They're not absolutely necessary, and you can dismiss them for images that are purely decorative or that have relevant text right next to them. However, adding a caption to give credit to the original source of the image, or to point out something specific in it, is helpful for search and your readers.
Add image links to sitemaps
Now that you know how to make images more SEO friendly, you should make it easier for Google to find them. You can add image links to your sitemap, which is a list of links that you can submit to Google Search Console.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Another way to speed up your pages is using a Content Delivery Network, commonly known as CDN. This is a globally distributed network of servers that work together to serve content to visitors faster, regardless of where they are. There are tons of options out there, but we usually recommend Cloudflare because they offer a free plan for websites that are just getting started and they have a good network and suite of products. Also, they use the website's own URL for images, which means you could change CDNs and wouldn't have to move Images URLs and tell Google what the new URLs are.
Just as important as giving Google the path to the images in your website is telling them the context that those images are in. You can do that by adding structured data, called Schema, to your pages. Google Images currently supports structured data for products, recipes, and videos. To add Schema to all items in a particular post type.
Images and other visual graphics enhance user experience, while slowing down your website because of these images can hinder user experience. So optimizing images to make sure users find and engage with your page is critical. So make sure you use the tips in this blog, from optimizing for name, size, alt text, adding to sitemaps, adding schemas, etc., to get the best results on SERPs.