How to Best Optimise Your Blog Images

Blog images take time and effort to create. How can you optimise blog images and make sure they are working hard for you?

I'm going to outline 5 simple steps you can take every time you add an image to a blog post. Those few extra minutes will make all the difference to the impact your images have.

Blog images take time and effort to create. How can you optimise blog images and make sure they are working hard for you and give you good value for the time and money you've invested in them? I'm going to outline 5 simple steps you can take every time you add an image to a blog post. Those few extra minutes will make all the difference to the impact your images have.  itsorganised.com | ONLINE CONTENT CREATION MADE EASY

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO OPTIMISE BLOG IMAGES?

It goes way beyond making your blog look pretty. Visual content marketing is powerful and with good reason:

  • we process visual information faster than text;
  • it can simplify complex information;
  • social media posts with images get shared more;
  • images are a great traffic driver and add SEO juice;
  • visuals act as a counter to our decreasing attention span and tendency to scan; and
  • they can help increase engagement and conversions.

But, you already spend a great deal of time researching, sourcing, buying, taking, editing, creating images to use on blog posts. And there's more to do?

Ideally, yes. But, don't panic. We're talking about a few extra minutes per post to make sure your images are efficient, accessible, impactful and legal. 

We want them to go off into the web properly optimised, drawing people back to you and your blog. That, after all, is why most of us are creating them in the first place.


A FEW SIMPLE STEPS CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT

So, what are the steps you need to take to optimise your blog images? 

  1. Using a descriptive file name.
  2. Reducing your image file size.
  3. Making sure you add alt text.
  4. Using captions to pique people's interest.
  5. Keeping it legal and giving credit.

The easiest way to do this is to establish good-practice habits and follow a checklist each time you create, save, name, upload and annotate your blog images.


1. USING DESCRIPTIVE FILE NAMES

If you download an image from your camera or phone, it will have a file name like DSC00032.jpg or IMG_0142.jpg. If you purchase a stock photo, this usually comes with the stock ID number as its file name.

The first step you need to take to optimise your images is to rename your image file to describe the post you are illustrating. This is something you need to do before you upload to the web, as you will not be able to change this after. This file name should include your keywords, if possible.

For example, to illustrate an article on optimising blog images, a suitable file name might be “optimising-blog-images.jpg”.

We write our posts for humans. To write for humans, however, we need to also write for search engines. Google can't know the image DSC00032.jpg is about optimising images. You have to tell it.

Get in the habit of using good web file-naming conventions. Use a dash between words rather than an underscore or space. Hyperlinks are sometimes displayed underscored and a space can sometimes be displayed on screen as %20.

 

2. REDUCE THE IMAGE FILE SIZE

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Visitors and search engines love fast-loading sites. Kissmetrics produced some incredible statistics with regard to website download times:

  • 47% of people expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% leave if it takes more than 3 seconds.
  • A one-second delay in page response results in a 7% reduction in conversions.

No, those are not typos.

With these crazy expectations, you need to make sure your pages load quickly. 

HOW TO REDUCE THE IMAGE FILE SIZE

One way to speed things up is to keep image file sizes down. There isn't an optimum size for an image file, as images vary so much. You could be dealing with anything from a simple text quote to a huge infographic. As a rough guide, aim to keep most of you images below 100kb each.

Resize your images before you upload them if you can. To do this, you can use photo-editing software like PhotoShop or online tools. I use PhotoShop to save my images for the web. I've also tried JPEG Mini, which is free for up to 20 images a day and is easy to use - just drag and drop your images onto the desktop app.

Don't be tempted to rely on the resizing option in your blogging software. The 'resizing' refers to the way you view it, not the file size. No compression is taking place. 

Wordpress, for example, gives you the option to display your images at a Full Size, Medium, and Thumbnail. So, you could be displaying a tiny image at thumbnail dimensions but with a whopping file size.

If you already have a lot of images online, or can't resize before you upload, you could try a plugin to shrink them (keep originals as backups). This is a great way of giving your site a speed and search-engine boost.

If you use WordPress, Elegant Themes have road tested 6 WordPress Image Optimisation Plugins.

 

3. ADDING ALT TEXT

Your images have been named and sized beautifully. Now its time to upload them and take arguably the most important step of all - adding Alt Text.

WHAT IS THE ALT TEXT?

It's an opportunity to make your images accessible to all. Whether people have chosen to switch off images in their browser or are using a screen reader, no value will be lost due to unseen images.

Adding Alt Text helps visitors, but it's also important for search engines and spiders - they can’t interpret an image without it.

And, much like file naming, this also presents you will an opportunity to add keywords to your post. 

WHAT IS BEST PRACTICE?

The key to a good Alt Text is providing an information-rich description for your user. The example given by Google makes this clear. For an image of a puppy, the Alt Text guidelines would be:

  • Poor  =  " " no alt text
  • Better  =  "puppy"
  • Best  =  "Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"

Keyword stuffing should also be avoided. If you’ve heard of this but aren't sure what 'stuffing' looks like, using the puppy description above:

  • "puppy dog baby dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"

Don't create Alt Texts that look like that! This will garner you little love from Google.

ADDING VALUE TO PINTEREST RICH PINS

If you're a Pinterest user and you have enabled Rich Pins, using the Alt Text effectively is important. The Alt Text field is pulled into the Rich Pin description by Pinterest. This description - which will be fixed - will then happily follow your image wherever it goes. 

ALT TEXT IN SQUARESPACE

To create an Alt Text in SquareSpace, you need to use the Caption option in the Image Editor. 

Add a caption to an image and then select 'Do Not Display Caption' on the Design Tab in the Image Editor. The caption will still exist, and will be used in the same was Alt Text in WordPress, it just won't be visible on the screen.

As you can see, taking a few minutes to add an effective, keyword-friendly, user-friendly Alt Text is well worth it.

 

4. USING CAPTIONS TO PIQUE INTEREST

Captions appear as text underneath an image on a blog post. Although you don’t see them often, omitting them may be a missed opportunity.

Kissmetrics research suggests that captions are 3 times as likely to be read as the body copy. 

This doesn't come as a huge surprise. We are told our attention span is dropping. We make decisions in a matter of seconds as to whether we are going to hang around. And, we like to scan blog posts, picking up on headings, images, bullets, pull quotes and captions. Effectively, the bits of text that 'stand out'.

WHEN TO WRITE CAPTIONS

Although not suited to all images, for example a text-only image, captions are an opportunity to get people to stop for a moment, tempting them to delve deeper into your post and stay awhile.

A few well-worded, tempting captions might just stop them in their tracks.

If you use a lot of abstract images on your posts, captions are perfect for explaining how you intended the image to be interpreted. Depending on the nature of your blog and the subject matter you write about, this text could be used to avoid any confusion or offence.

 

5. KEEPING IT LEGAL AND GIVING CREDIT

GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE

Images on the web are not there for the taking. Make sure you always ask to use images from other bloggers and websites.

Start by checking their website for terms of use. If you can't find any information, send an email and ask. Most people are more than happy to share, as long as you give appropriate credit and, usually, link back to their original post.

I've written many guest posts and have run three websites, all requiring image permissions. To date, I've never had anyone say no. People online really do love to share - they just liked to be asked and credited too.

Bear in mind that bloggers are busy and may take some time to get back to you. Don't email for permission on an image you need for a blog post going live tomorrow!

If you create a lot of your own images, it's worth considering a terms-of-use page for your own site. This will help reduce the number of request emails you need to answer. 

Also, encouraging people to reuse your images is a great way to get your work shared online, build relationships with other bloggers, and get your name out there.

If you've purchased stock images, downloaded free collections, or are using 'creative commons' images, make sure you check their terms of use and read any licence information. 

 


5 STEPS TO OPTIMISED IMAGES

We've looked at:

  1. Using a descriptive file name.
  2. Reducing your image file size.
  3. Making sure you add alt text.
  4. Using captions to pique people's interest.
  5. Keeping it legal and giving credit.

With the time and energy you've invested in searching for or creating an image, I hope this has shown you that it doesn't take a lot of extra work to make your blog images really work hard for you.