How to optimize images for SEO - laptop and notebook.

One of the biggest rookie blogger mistakes is to incorrectly use images in blog posts. It’s important to learn how to optimize images for SEO, to improve discoverability and ultimately traffic!

When you optimize blog post images, you improve your site’s speed. As such, you improve the site visitor experience and ranking in Google searches… boosting your blog traffic.

Image SEO is one of the things you may not consider when you’re new to blogging. However, it can make a huge difference in ranking your posts with search engines.

Google likes fast sites, and having images that load faster makes a big difference. It also crawls your site, finding images. Having images optimized for keywords helps Google figure out what your post is about.

Spending the time to take a few extra steps when you upload your feature image and other post images, can result in several rewards.

Most importantly, you get MORE TRAFFIC!

When I started blogging, I had no clue that my large image files were hurting my site. 

People didn’t want to stick around and wait until the page loaded completely. 

As well, how I was adding images to posts was limiting how my posts could be ranked in search by Google. I wasn’t following the image SEO best practices.

I don’t want new bloggers to make the same mistakes I did. This is why I’m sharing these simple steps to help you do it right, the first time around!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a product or service, and decide to purchase it, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All recommended products and services are based on my positive experience with them. For more information, please read my Disclaimer.

How To Optimize Images For SEO PIN

Why Is It Important To Optimize Blog Post Images For SEO?

I’ve already briefly mentioned why optimizing images for SEO is important.

However, the reasons for focusing on image SEO go far deeper. Let’s review all the reasons why it’s so important to have optimized images on your blog.

  • When you upload optimized images, that are smaller in file size, they load the site faster, creating a better user experience. Google likes faster sites. This boosts your chances of organic blog traffic.
  • Your images also show up in image searches, giving you more traffic that way too.
  • Using optimized images, Google can understand what your blog posts are about, improving your overall SEO ranking.
  • Overall your SEO rank improves
  • You have the potential to get backlinks, especially if you’re using infographics or your original photography.

Here’s an example of how my focus on optimizing images for SEO has helped them show up in visual searches. You see some of my Pinterest pin images, as well as my feature image (bottom right).

An example of an image search in Google for the term "summer blog post ideas".

This and all the other reasons I’ve listed above is why it’s so important to add this one extra step before you hit publish on your latest blog post!

| Related: How To Grow Blog Traffic By 200% In One Month Using Three Smart Strategies

How To Optimize Images For SEO: 5 Key Steps

There are a few key steps to optimizing your blog images to improve your SEO. 

A few! There are no excuses to make these small changes. 

Once you start doing them, they will become part of your blog writing and publishing routine. For me, they are now just part of the process.

Yes, they do take a little bit of time to implement, but the rewards are so much greater than if you didn’t do them.

So let’s get started so you can learn how to optimize images for SEO and start getting more traffic to your blog!

1. Use Quality, Relevant Photos

You might be wondering how using quality photos relates to optimizing images for SEO. 

First of all, if you’re going to be adding alt-text to unrelated, poorly edited images, you need to know they may appear in Google searches.

They can create a perception among Google users that your site has poor-quality content. 

So, if you want clicks, you need to put your best foot forward and look like a professional blog.

Even if you’re faking it!

Secondly, using relevant photos brings your text to life.

You can use alt-text and image titles that work with your blog. When Google crawls through your post, including your images, it can better figure out the subject matter. 

It all helps with boosting your site as a quality site. 

PRO TIP: Use quality stock photos you’ve purchased, as they make your site look more professional. They save you time and effort and go a long way with your site’s branding. I’ve shared some of my favourite stock photo sites. My favourites for this site are Styled Stock Society and Ivory Mix. Both have beautiful, feminine stock photos that I use regularly on this site, as well as my Suburban Tourist lifestyle blog.

| Related: The Best Stock Photo Sites For Bloggers For Professional Shots

2. Use Images With The Correct Dimensions

What do I mean by correct dimensions? To optimize your images for SEO, you will need to edit the size to fit the minimums for your blog theme. 

Images that aren’t optimized for the correct sizes will load slower.

Google notices this too! Check out what happens when I check a blog post with an improperly sized feature image in the Google Page Speed Insights test:

Use correct image sizes to optimize images for SEO - Google Page Speed test results

It tells me that I have an opportunity to save 0.15s (seconds of load-up time) if I use properly sized images.

Each blog theme has different requirements for image dimensions. For example, mine needs to be a minimum of 780 px in width.

If I’m using a larger-sized image it will take longer to download. So I always keep to the minimum image sizes. 

If your stock photo is larger, use the free Pixlr or Colorcinch online photo editors to save it as a smaller size. In Pixlr-E, open the image in Pixlr and click save. In Colorcinch, first, resize the image and then save it.

3. Save Your Files As Small Files That Load Fast

Another way to optimize images for SEO is to save them as smaller files.

To so do, use the platform. When you’re saving your now properly sized image, slide the level down to 70%. 

Check to see if the image isn’t too blurry. If you keep it to a maximum of 70% it should look good.

You’ll notice when you save the file that the size will be greatly reduced. 

When you add this smaller image file to your blog post, it will load much faster, than if you didn’t.

A key tip: save your image files as JPGs for most of your photos. This type of image file works best for feature photos and other photos of things and people. I also save Pinterest files as JPG files.

Reserve PNG files for your logo and screenshots or icons, if you’re using them.

PRO TIP: Even though you’re saving your image as a small file with Pixlr, you can take it one step further and use an image compression plugin like EWWW Image Optimizer or ShortPixel. When you upload your image, the plugin does the work of compressing the image for you. Alternatively, you can use a site such as Tiny PNG or Compress JPG to save images as compressed, optimized files before uploading them.

4. Use Proper Title Names For Blog Post Images

One of the easiest ways to optimize your images is to change the title name to one that’s related to your blog post.

Google searches your images and will index them for their images tab. This is one often overlooked way to optimize images for SEO.

Instead of having your image file’s name as DS12045.jpg, have it include the long tail keyword or title of your blog post. 

For example, “How To Optimize Your Images For SEO”

  • Not: “DS1245.jpg”
  • Not: “DS12045 optimize images.jpg”
  • Yes: “Optimize your images for SEO – Laptop”

I use a combination of the keyword with another brief descriptive reference for any subsequent images.

For example, “How To Optimize Your Images – Proper Names.”  This makes it easier to search through images in your Media folder, using your keyword or title. 

5. Add The Alt-Text Description

When you’re learning how to optimize images for your blog, one of the most confusing things is the alt-text. What do you add there?

When you upload your image to a blog post, you’ll also see a spot to enter alt-text. 

Alt-text does three things:

  • It’s what appears when your image doesn’t load
  • It’s what is read aloud for the visually impaired when they’re visiting your post
  • It also helps search engines crawl and rank your website

So, it’s very important to include alt-text in images that you want to be crawled. I do this for specific images because I want them to get found! Some images are just decorative and don’t need alt-text. 

How do you enter the information? 

Write what’s in the image, and naturally add your keyword. 

Here’s how you add it in WordPress with blocks. Click your image and then in the “Block” mode, add it in the Alt text box.

Optimize alt-text - how to optimize images for SEO

So for example, an alt-text can be something like: 

“A keyboard with flowers, a perfect spot to work on optimizing images for SEO.”

A few rules: 

  • Never start with “A picture of…”
  • Keep it short to about 125 characters
  • Use your keywords sparingly
  • Try using synonyms and similar keywords that work with your image
  • Not all images need alt-text, especially if you’re writing something related to the image where it appears.

Now you have the essentials of image SEO that help you with a faster loading page and information that will help search engines understand your content.

What About Image Captions?

Many bloggers don’t add captions to their images.

I don’t either, mostly because the ones I use are either my own or from copyright-free sites (or purchased stock photos).

However, if you’re blogging on topics that can include instructions or visual examples, you can certainly add them.

The same applies when you’re using a photo from somebody else and you need to credit them. This is where a caption section comes in handy.

What About Images With Links?

Did you know you can add a link to your image so that when somebody clicks on it, they are led to another page or post?

Personally, the only time I would add a link to an image is if it’s a banner image or something that I’m using to promote a freebie or landing page to something specific.

For example, you have an image you’ve created, advertising a freebie. You want to direct your reader to a separate landing page where you talk more about your free lead magnet.

You can add a link to that page.

This is another way to add interlinks to your site and boost your traffic!

When should you not use a link to your images? When it’s a visual that’s a photograph, feature image or Pinterest pin.

Optimize Your Images For SEO Every Time

With a few small tweaks, you can make a huge difference in how Google and other search engines view your blog. Not to mention, how much more traffic you get!

To summarize, the best ways to optimize your images for SEO are: 

  1. Use correct image dimensions for your site’s theme
  2. Save your files as small files
  3. Use proper file names for images
  4. Add your alt-text
  5. Use quality, relevant photos

This is not rocket science. It’s just a bit of extra time spent on the visual assets. 

The extra work is worth the effort!

Now You Know How To Optimize Image For SEO

Optimize blog images to improve your overall SEO, your rankings in Google and ultimately blog traffic.

By focusing on image SEO – technical (speed) optimization and on-page optimization (inserting keywords) – you tap into the power of your images to create a great user experience while boosting your presence in search results.

The result is a win-win situation.

People stick around your site because it loads fast and it’s visually appealing (signalling to Google that it’s a worthwhile site), and secondly, indicating to Google what your content is about.

If you’re looking to learn more about SEO and how to boost your blog’s ranking, check out my post on Blog SEO Tips.

And if you’re looking for a deep dive, check out my e-book Optimize It: A Guide To SEO For Blogs

The front cover of the Optimize It: SEO For Blogs ebook cover on an iPad.

QUESTION: Now that you know how to optimize images for SEO, will you be making this step part of your regular blogging process?

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