Image Optimisation: Is It Still Worth It?

Photo Frame 8January 2013, Google rolled out its new image results format. It’s a great change for searchers; at the top of the page are different categories that you might be interested. If we’re searching for “ducks,” at the top is “flying,” “swimming,” “female,” etc. Under are high-quality pictures. Previously, you’d get a thumbnail and a bit of a description. When you clicked on the image, the site of origin would appear in the background. This no longer happens. Google says this is to speed up the experience and reduce the load on servers. True, but it can also reduce click-through rates. How, and is it still worth optimising your images?

Instead of a one-click process, getting to the original website is a two-click job. This can impact conversion rates, often significantly. Define Media Group did a small scale study of 87 sites along a variety of verticals. Collectively, traffic decreased 63 percent. Optimising images is still important and worth the time to do it. It certainly cannot hurt! It is not the highest on the SEOs to-do list, but it’s not time-consuming either.

Quick steps you can take include:

  • Use descriptive image file names with targeted keywords. Instead of simply “duck,” for instance, you might name a file, “male mallard duck.”
  • Use Alt tags. This will help increase visibility. This will look like the following:

<img src=”male mallard duck.jpeg alt=”male mallard duck”>

  • Use Alt tags for things like products, not decorative images. This may draw an over-optimisation penalty. And while we’re at it, don’t overuse keywords.
  • Minify images. This compresses and formats the images correctly so they load quickly.

These steps won’t take much time to implement for important images. Regardless of whether Google displays them differently in image searches, it’s important to optimise your content with images. Your site should be built for your users, and images help create a great experience.

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