Continuing our series on website improvements, let’s take a moment to address your website’s images. Images, graphics, pictures (call them what you want) are a great way to communicate a complex story or simplify a concept. They can do wonders for your site’s look-and-feel but they can also do damage if not setup properly. Here are three quick ways you can optimize your website images and improve your website’s search results.
- Check file sizes – The file size is the file’s height and width dimensions. Just like your printer uses 8.5″ by 11″ paper, your website uses images that have a set height and width measured in pixels rather than inches. Unlike your printer however, your website can STRETCH or SHRINK an image to fit a designated space. A small graphic can be stretched to fit a larger space but may be distorted (think Silly Putty). Conversely, an image too large can be forced into a smaller space (think cramming a pillow into a box). Neither stretching nor cramming is good. All graphics should be tailored to fit the space exactly.
- Check file weight – File weight is often a factor of ‘resizing’ a large file into a smaller space. You’ll get the dimensions you want (height and width) but the result will be more ‘dense’ graphic. A higher density means larger file weight with is measured in megabytes or kilobytes. Heavier files affect your page load speed and Google rank results. Yes, Google checks your page load speed as a factor in search ranking so don’t take this lightly. Take a moment to check all your images and see if there’s any room for improvement. You’ll have to go to the file directly for this one, the “eye test” won’t work. A general rule of thumb is any file larger that 1MB probably has room for improvement.
- Add ‘alt’ descriptions – Periodically the Google ‘bot’ visits your site and records what it finds. It stores that data to use later in search rankings. But Google can’t actually ‘see’ the images on your website. A picture of a gold bracelet displaying the words “Gold Bracelet 50% off” just appears to Google as a rectangle with many colors, nothing to catalog. Sure YOU can read it but other computers can’t recognize images or read their text thus will not recognize your Gold Bracelet Sale.
You’ll need to TELL Google the words in the image using the ‘atl’ tag of the image. Inside the image is a code area aptly named “alt”. This is where we’ll place the words “Gold Bracelet 50% off”. Now cataloging computers will “understand” your image and will use your description to rank you in search.
- BONUS! Rewrite file names with keywords – Are the file names of your images read like you just took them off your camera? Like this, CD15425.jpg? Or this, blog-pic1.jpg? If so, you’re missing out on an opportunity. Give your images names that describe the image itself or the concept, or both! Don’t worry about the length, try something like gold-bracelet-sale-mens-link-bracelet-4-inch-herringbone-pattern.jpg. Not only will a search engine be able to categorize the image it’ll also know more about the webpage as well.
The takeaway here is that image updates are an easy opportunity for a website search boost. They’re often overlooked but can provide some very useful information to the search engines to help get you found.
Whether you’re looking to optimize your website images or if you have something else in mind let the premier web developers in Maryland help. Let’s talk about how we can put that website of yours to better use!
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