Semalt Expert: Graphic Optimization
The human brain is known to process graphics faster compared to plain text. This explains why content with pictures or infographics gets 94 percent more views compared to content with plain text. Using appropriate images in your content attracts readers and helps to sell your products. Most importantly, graphics enhance user experience which is critical when it comes to SEO. Now you know that graphics are such a critical element in your site, it is important to get the most out of them.
Here are eight time-tested tips from Lisa Mitchell, the Semalt Customer Success Manager, on how to optimize graphics to get better rankings:
1. Identify and use the right graphics
Graphics tell a story, as a result, it is important to make sure that the images you use are relevant to the topic at hand. When you insert images that are not relevant to the surrounding content, you send mixed signals to your visitors. Since graphics are meant to help improve your ranking, if they are not relevant to the topic, they lose the intended SEO value.
When it comes to finding appropriate images, you have many options. These include:
- Original images: These are pictures you take using a smartphone or camera.
- Stock images: You can get stock images from CCO-licensed image sites including Unplash and Pixabay. Alternatively, you can subscribe to premium offers on the same sites and others including iStock and Shutterstock.
- Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) images: These are images used in short animated clips that add depth as well as interest to your content. You can get GIFs at GIPGY or create your own using their app. Alternatively, you can look up GIFMaker or ScreentoGIF.
- Design tools: Websites such as PicMonkey and Canvas are excellent resources for creating your own graphics.
2. Incorporate keywords in graphic filename
While search engines are good at what they do, they cannot see graphics and need descriptive text to tell them what the graphics contain. Since stock image sites, cameras and other sources of graphics assign default filenames to pictures that do not assist search engines to understand the graphic, it is important to rename the graphic that you intend to upload to your site.
The renamed filename tells the search engine what the graphic is all about and also gives you an opportunity to use a keyword you were optimizing for.
3. Alternative text or Alt text feature
Alternative text commonly known as alt text is a feature on your site that goes a step further than just optimizing the filename. The feature allows you to describe the subject matter and make the picture relevant to the page. This feature is used by search engines to figure out the relationship between the graphics file and the content. It also helps them to know which images are most suitable to present when responding to a search query.
4. Use captions appropriately
Captions are important as they help to add further context to corresponding text. Ordinarily, people read captions when scanning through a page. On average, captions are read 300 more times compared to the main copy. However, it is not necessary to include a caption with every graphic as long as the surrounding text describes it.
5. Use the appropriate image file type
While there are several types of image files for use, two popular formats are Portable Network Graphics (PNG) and Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG). A major difference between PNGs, JPEGs, and GIFs is their size and quality. File size is important for SEO since it affects page load time.
6. Reduce image file size
Since large image file sizes affect page load times, you need to reduce them when necessary. This will not only improve page load times but also conserve your bandwidth and storage on the server. You can reduce image file size using offline tools or opt for online tools such as CompressJPEG, TinyPNG and Image Optimizer.
7. Resize your graphics
In some instances, reducing file size may not be enough, and you may have to resize them. Resizing images reduces the width and height of the picture and reduce their file size to improve page load times. Keep in mind that some image formats such as PGNs deteriorate in quality when resized.
8. Create sitemaps for graphics
Sitemaps provide search engines with extra information about your site's structure and improve search engine rankings. Sitemaps include a list of your web pages, the metadata linked to them and how they are organized.
Ultimately, graphics can enhance or stall your SEO efforts. To improve your rankings, you need to identify the right graphics, optimize them, describe the images accurately and create sitemaps to enhance visitors' experience and improve your search engine ranking.