Anyone working on optimizing their website knows how important it is to optimize images. But do you know if you’re using the right types of image files across your site? Below, we’ll explain the differences between the three major image file types and when it’s best to use which.Read More
When it comes to website optimization, images are sometimes an afterthought. Copy, design, and coding all play important roles in an optimized website, but images can also increase your visibility in image based searches. Optimizing images is easy do if you follow these best practice guidelines:
Utilize image compression and file type: Maintaining fast load times is important for an optimized website. If your site is using lots of image data, you’ll need to compress the images to keep them from affecting your site’s performance. You should also consider which file extension your images use. For example, a .png file can show more colors than a .jpg file, but it’s larger and will take longer to load.
Create an image sitemap: To increase the chances that search engines will index the images on your website, create an image sitemap.
Don’t forget social sharing buttons: The advent of image sharing sites like Pinterest has only increased the importance of sharing buttons, especially for images. By adding social sharing buttons, you’ll increase the chance that web pages and images reach a wider audience.
Optimize image metadata: Most importantly, you should optimize the file name and alt tag. For both, use five to seven words to describe what the image is. If possible, use keywords that you’d like to target. If the image contains text, include this text in the alt data as well.
In my last few posts I have covered the different types of metadata and how to use each effectively. In this post you will learn about the “alt attribute” or more commonly called the alt tag. The alt tag is html code we use to label images found on websites.
If you view a site’s source code and look for an image, you will most likely see the name of the image in gif format and next to it will be the alt= tag. This is where you can label your image. Example: Alt Attribute example:
You might be asking yourself “What is the importance of the alt tag?” Good question! The alt tag is important for three distinct reasons:
1. Some searchers turn graphic functionality off so a page will load faster if they have a slower connection speed. When this is the case, the image will not appear, but rather the image’s alt tag will be viewable.
2. It’s used for blind and visually impaired readers who access a page using audio-based browsers, or screen readers. — These devices read the page aloud so the user can hear the content on the page. If there is no alt tag, the images will be skipped and important information could be lost.
3. Universal Search — This has been around for about a year, and is still evolving. Universal search uses alt tags and other information to display the images of your website in the “blended results”. These blended results feature images, video, news and regular listings in the search results. The search engines’ algorithm takes alt tags into account when displaying these mixed results.
Alt Tag Tips
While it is important to realize that the alt tag should be used for all of the images on your site, you should not over use this tool. Abusing this tag can have serious consequences when it comes to the search results. Below are some do’s and don’ts to creating effective alt tags.
– Use on every image on your site
– Describe what the image represents
– Use keywords where applicable
– Make sure each image has a unique alt tag
– Don’t stuff all of your keywords into the tag to “game” the search engine — This is called alt spam
– Don’t add alt tags for things like buttons and images smaller than 10 x 10 pixels. These items are not necessarily important to search, so you don’t have to label them.
As always, alt tags are not the “SEO Golden Ticket” but rather a piece of the bigger picture. Work on Metadata and alt tags, and you will be one step closer to having an optimized website.