Image Optimization | Ultimate Image SEO, Social and UX Optimization

June 22nd, 20123 Comments »

Optimizing your images is one of the many on-page SEO steps that you need to undertake. Doing so will not only make your images and website rank higher the search results but will also improve your website’s usability, and will your visitors a better experience. Remember that when doing optimization you should have all search engine, social media and people in mind, so we’ll try to cover all of those aspects in this article.

Here is my ultimate approach on how to do image optimization.

Image Optimization for Search Engines – Image SEO

Optimizing your images is an important SEO step, it is in fact connected to other SEO factors such as bounce rate, site speed and others.

  1. Keywords in filename, alt text, image caption / description. This is basic, but of course, no keyword stuffing. Filename is very important because in the absence of relevant text or content, Google will use the filename as the image’s snippet.
  2. Google can index the following image types: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP and SVG. Set the image file type to JPG. It is the most widely accepted image file type (has the best compression to quality ratio) and it works across many browser platforms. You can also try Google’s WebP, a new open source image format that according to Google provides as much as 30% better compression. Rough math readily means that it can equate to up to 30% faster website.
  3. ImageShack Domain Unregistered Image Optimization | Ultimate Image SEO, Social and UX OptimizationDo not hotlink images from other websites. This is a bad practice, especially since you’re killing another webmaster’s server with it. Think of bandwidth cost. Also, what’s stopping the owner of the website and image you hotlinked to from changing the image. I’m sure you’ve seen websites or blogs with blank images or ImageShack frog warning sign, but at some instances, it can really be interesting. If you’re a webmaster and you don’t want people to hotlink to your images, check this tool here.
  4. Keep the file size to a minimum without sacrificing quality. This will help your website load fast and remember site speed is an important SEO factor. You can also use a Content Delivery Network or CDN to improve your site speed, even if your site relies on heavy images. A detailed article on CDN and SEO will come very soon.
  5. Avoid embedding texts in images. The image below is a nay and doesn’t conform with modern image optimization for web standards, and with different browser type and versions and different mobile devices, not all users will be able to access them. If it’s a title, heading be sure to put it in plain HTML.Text on Banner Image Optimization | Ultimate Image SEO, Social and UX Optimization
  6. Optionally add a Sitemap for Images. WebmasterTools provides a detailed guide on the matter.
  7. Declare proper creative commons license which obliges webmasters to give you attribution for your images.

Image Optimization for Social Media

How to optimize image for social media? Optimizing your images for non search engine sites might be a bit different. You want people to actually like your picture and then probably share it – to make it viral. Then there is also the set of factors and protocols that are of course dependent on the social media website.

  1. Avoid crappy animated GIFs for your profile picture. This isn’t the 90s when having animated avatars, scrolling texts / marquee and twinkling backgrounds means you’re awesome. Keep it simple and professional, especially if you’re a businessperson.
  2. Quality, quality and quality. You don’t really need to worry about having to save bandwidth or to improve site speed via your images. This optimization is for social media. Let huge datacenters of Facebook or Flickr worry about that. Care about the technical and editorial qualities of your images.
  3. Use great images to convey a message, entice readers and encourage sharing of your pages. Perfect examples of these would be these creative Facebook Timeline Covers shared on Hongkiat.
  4. Implement Facebook Open Graph Protocol. This will make sure that the appropriate thumbnail image will appear on wall every time your post is shared. Thumbnail after all is a variable in link’s CTR. Check the screenshot below for example.Facebook OG Thumbnail Image Optimization | Ultimate Image SEO, Social and UX Optimization
  5. Pinterest Image Optimization is a topic worthy of a comprehensive blog post. But for the meantime, here’s an infographic for you.
  6. Memes also call for specific guidelines. But for beginners, be sure to really how the meme works. This is the reason sites like know your meme exists. You don’t want to offend professional trolls, do you?

Image Optimization for People – UX Optimization

Great images create great user experience. Remember that. It can build traffic; improve conversion and all the great things that you can image. Images are a form content, so when you publish images, think of the users first.

  1. Apply looking in looking in/out rule. This is a rule I learned as a journalism – old print and TV type. I used to be a photojournalist too and I get a little bit OC when it comes to the direction an image is facing. And yes, the same principle can be and should be applied online. Check the image below to learn the concept. The image on the LEFT is looking out (with respect to the page’s content), the image on the right on the otherhand is looking in (with respect to the page’s content). It has psychological effect that compels you to look into the direction at which the subject is looking at on the picture, which can move your eyes as a reader away or towards the page’s content.Looking Out Looking In Image1 Image Optimization | Ultimate Image SEO, Social and UX Optimization
  2. Upload high quality images. It has more effect to users than low quality and blurry ones. It also encourages linking which as you may already know, good for SEO and traffic referral.
  3. Reduce white spaces on your images as much as possible.
  4. Use images not when you WANT to, but when you HAVE to. The first makes you vulnerable to use images wrongly like to bulk up the content of your page. It also forces you to look for images even when there’s no relevance at all. The latter serves a purpose. In most cases anyway, pictures are there to support your text content, unless of course you’re running a gallery website. made a good article about this.
  5. Have a separate directory for your images based on certain categories. WordPress can do this for you automatically (different folders based on date of upload etc). You can also separate image location based on their subject or theme.

Tools for Image Optimization

  • SEO Friendly Images WP Plugin by no less than Vladimir Prelovac.
  • Udinra All Image Sitemap WP Plugin creates sitemap.xml file for your images.
  • DynamicDrive a web image optimizer that compresses and converts your images to render it for suitable for online use. This is one of my favorite tools, perfect when optimizing single or few images.
  • ImageOptimizer is another web image optimizer that treats your images per upload. There is also a desktop version.
  • Shrink O Matic is one of my most favorite tools. It runs on Adobe Air and can help you optimize images in bulk by a simple gesture of drag and drop. I personally used it to optimize thousands of images for a recent project.
  • FeedtheBot tool checks Alt Texts, Titles and Dimensions for you automatically.

10 Resources to Find Images for Blog or Website Use

There are tons of sources, of course each has its own advantages and disadvantages. More of these image sources on another blog post (always check the license). For now, here are some of the best and most popular ones:

  1. Google’s very own LIFE magazine photo archive
  2. Yahoo’s very own image hosting and sharing service.
  3. - Find visual inspiration (ie images) that you can use on your posts etc.
  4. A grand collection of travel pictures from around the world.
  5. Stock Xchng is one of the best free stock images website.
  6. CreativeCommons Search that taps into different sources like Pixabay and Fotopedia.
  7. Search Engine for free photos online. Photos are license specific so be sure to check them out.
  8. Another search engine for pictures and images.
  9. Stock photography and stock footage search engine.
  10. If you’re looking for non-traditional images to spice up your content, you can try Just be sure to credit the artists properly.

If you have more image optimization tips, let the world hear it via the comment section below.

Looking out guy image from CarbonNYC.
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3 Awesome Comments

  1. Thank you for this informative post! I’ve got hundreds of blog posts and majority of the images are not optimized. Something that I ought to do soon. Good thing you added Vladimir’s plugin and now I can do it easily,

    I do have a couple of questions which I hope you can answer for me:

    1. Should the title of the image be the same as the alt tag? I saw some training videos on this and one of them recommends keeping the title and alt tag the same.
    2. What are your thougjhts on watermarking your pictures,originals and stock photos?

    That;s it! By the way, there’s one image tool I like, WP Smush it which reduces the size of images. Have you tried this?

    • Hi Nica, thanks for dropping by.

      1. Many people would recommend that, however if you’re feeling extra hardworking putting in semantically related keywords instead of the exact keywords might help more – it makes things look more natural + prevents any chance of keyword stuffing.

      2. Yeah I have used the Smush plugin, but I found out that is causes a lot of server stress, ie too many php calls which reduces general site performance, and it’s not perfectly fit with other plugins I regularly use (cache, javascript footer etc).

  2. Samer Hadi says:

    Loved the post Kim! It covers what basically every websmaster should need to know about how to optimize images.

    Image optimization when it comes to search engines however goes a bit deeper than this for those who want to rank well for competitive image search keywords. Here building links to the page where the image is at, or better building links specifically to the image are one of the more important aspects.

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