How to optimize the images of your site to make it faster and more performing

16 November 2021Reading time: 6 min.

Are you about to launch a personal website or boost the performance of an existing one? Always remember that image optimization is key for site ranking and top positions.

When working on a website, we often tend to focus on content, optimized texts, photos and colors, and other small stylistic choices to tune it to our tastes and products. But we often fail to care just as much about image optimization— or we overlook its importance.

What it means to optimize images

Essentially, optimizing images means compressing and making them less heavy to improve your site’s speed and performance. 

What many don’t know is that the quality and weight of the image directly affect the speed and performance of the site and, consequently, its positioning on search engines. 

If you’ve already done everything you can to increase the quality of your content and keywords, and the website and index settings have no technical problems, then it’s optimization time: this can make the difference in climbing the top search portal positions. 

Web images: ideal weight, resolution, and dimensions

An ideal image weight for the web is generally 200–300 kb. An ideal resolution is 72 dpi (i.e. approx. 70%). The ideal dimensions limit the long side to 1200 pixels (larger dimensions and resolution are mainly indicated for printing, but poorly suited to web contexts). 

Reducing the weight of images and their resolution, as well as adapting the image to the page format, is therefore essential to optimize the performance of a website. 

How to optimize the images on a site 

If you aren’t a graphics expert and don’t even know what Photoshop is, then fear not: there are many friendly, free tools and websites out there for you to easily optimize your site images while preserving their quality. If, on the other hand, you can manage yourself, then optimizing images for the web with Photoshop is definitely the best option. 

Indeed, these sites and tools preset the general values to get an optimized image, i.e. to have an image compressed by weight and size per web standards without affecting its quality. Obviously, much of the outcome depends on the image that you upload in the first place. Of course, a grainy initial image can’t turn into a high quality one after compression. 

Sites with image optimization functions, free or paid as needed, include Comprimilo, Optimizilla, Kraken, TinyPNG, and CompressJpeg, among others. As usual with the constantly evolving web, these sites, especially the free ones, keep changing. However, a simple keyword search will suffice to find the best, current sites for optimizing your images for free. 

Furthermore, if your site is built with the WordPress platform, then you have another chance: optimizing WordPress images through plugins. Plugins are nothing more than support programs aimed at improving the functions of other programs. In short, they add new features to your site without you, yourself, needing to code. 

The most popular are: 

The role of SEO in image optimization

Photo weight and quality are as important in the image optimization process as the SEO that goes with them. In fact, SEO is not just about the keywords of your site texts. It also deals with the titles and tags of the images that get uploaded to the site. 

The SEO of an image includes: 

  • the alt attribute, i.e. alternate text 
  • the title attribute, i.e. image title 
  • caption
  • description
  • URL, i.e. link 

Setting the alt text and title well is vital. The more accurately you describe your image, the more search engines will perceive it as quality content for the matched search keywords. This is especially relevant for e-commerce, where each image product is a search key in itself.

It would be ideal to optimize the images before uploading them to the site, having correctly saved them in your PC folders. Obviously, if this isn’t possible, you can go back to the image gallery of the site and do this work later. 

Are you thinking of all the images you saved under Photo1, Kkkkkkkkkjpg, Image_3, et cetera?

Now, run to optimize them!

How to optimize site images in a few simple steps

1. Compress the size of your images so as not to burden the site 

If you don’t want overly large and heavy images to slow down your website, then go for one of the free sites that let you optimize your images in a simple and fast way. We’ve suggested some of them above, but you can always find others through a simple Google search. 

The more experienced may refer to Photoshop. This is certainly the most professional tool to customize the images we add to our website in the best way. 

2. Give your file an appropriate name

Although we’ve all been there (even for those who pretend otherwise), quickly saving our image files with names like pffffffff, image_7, img568, etc. is never a good choice.

Take that extra minute to find an effective and descriptive title for your image. If you do this step right away, then you won’t have to do double work afterwards. 

Beware of too much of a good thing. Don’t string a series of keywords in a row. The algorithm could punish you for crowding out keywords in your image. Always opt for a happy medium.

3. Choose an alt text in line with the title of your image

Once you’ve chosen the image title, continue by combining an appropriate alt text. This is, in fact, the most important element for indexing and optimizing an image along with the title. The alt text is meant to provide image details that are alternative to the mere visual ones. 

Then, in words, describe what you see in the image. 

4. Enter a caption and description

The caption and the description aren’t as essential as the title and the alt text. But they can give more relevance to your image when you optimize it. 

The caption is the text that will appear on the page just below or next to the image to reinforce its message and relevance.

The description is meant for internal site programming in order to sort out images and know what they contain. It has no special SEO relevance. 

5. Save the images and upload them to your website

Once the image has been prepared, compressed, and optimized, also for SEO purposes, just save it on your computer. Then upload it to the website of interest. 

Conclusions

Images have often been underestimated and considered a purely stylistic element. In reality, they’re essential to further improve the performance of our website and take that extra leap to reach the top of the search engines.

Optimizing images may seem like a long and tedious process, which we often prefer to skip. However, once you get the hang of such a process, you’ll find it easy and automatic. In the long run, it’ll allow you to improve the performance of your website by making it faster and more related to the users’ search keys. 

Last, don’t forget that the same optimization rules (weight reduction, alt text, etc.) also apply to your emails! Discover them all in the MailUp Email Design Guide

This article was written by

Tania Biral

Tania Biral

In 2015 officially entered the world of digital marketing, which I met and started to love during my Master in San Francisco. Since then I have been working bilingual ITA / ENG to help brands and people to take advantage of online dynamics and opportunities, to be able to open new doors that were previously unknown, in Italy and abroad.

Related articles