What are best tools and practices for optimizing images? With massive demand for the consumption of content with the emergence of blogging, more and more web masters are paying attention to generating traffic from secondary sources of content such as videos and images.
We are all aware of the importance of incorporating images into blog posts for better readership and engagement, that being said, today I will be looking at some of the best practices for optimizing your images for faster performance and better search engine rankings.
To better categorize this article, I will be looking at two major sections of image optimization:
- Optimizing images for faster performance
- Optimizing images for better search engine rankings
Optimizing images for faster performance
There are certain things you can do to optimize your images and make sure they load faster. The following are a set of tools and practices you should consider using to enhance your images for faster performance:
1. Don’t scale images in HTML – Don’t use a bigger image than you need just because you can set the width and height in HTML. If you need <img width=”100″ height=”100″ src=”yellow-balloon.jpg” alt=”Yellow Balloon” /> then your image (yellow-balloon.jpg) should be 100x100px rather than a scaled down 400x400px image.
2. Use PNG instead of GIF – Convert any GIF image you may be using to PNG format and there should be a saving in the size amount, resulting in faster load times. Most of the times this practice is hesitated by web developers due to the limited support in older browsers, but old browsers are old now.
The only problem could be variable transparency, which is supported by neither formats. So basically whatever a GIF can do, a palette PNG (PNG8) can do too (except for animation). You can use a free web based image converter to convert your GIFs to PNGs like at coolutils.com/Online/Image-Converter/
3. Use small favicons – If you are not familiar with favicons, they are small 16×16 pixel images that represent your site (it can be found beside your site’s URL in the address bar and bookmarks) and they are located in your site’s root directory as favicon.ico files.
Favicons are extremely important because they are requested before any other components of your website by the browser. So guess what happens when you have a big sized favicon or even worse, no favicon? the browser is 404’d. You don’t want to 404 a browser or make it struggle loading your favicon, so it is preferred to have your favicon reduced to a size under 1K. You can use this free web based Favicon Generator (favicon.cc) to make yourself a nice favicon
Optimizing images for better search engine rankings
With most of the talent driving competition to keyword industry, it is not surprising that ranking for desirable keywords is a difficult task these days. However you can still rank high enough for very competitive keywords in a slightly different but very lucrative environment – Google Image Search.
There are a lot of great articles about better image optimization for search engines by other authors, however I will show you some great tools to take full advantage of your precious images. Here we go:
1. Use batch file re-namers – You know it is advised to have the keywords you are targeting as your image names. For example, “widescreen-wallpaper.jpg” is better than “image.jpg” if you are targeting the keyword “widescreen wallpaper”. But what if you have 100 images? you don’t want to waste time renaming each image file separately. So do yourself a favor and find a batch file renaming program that will do the job automatically. Windows users can do this with Windows Explorer (here is how) and Mac users can use Name Mangler (manytricks.com/namemangler) to batch rename files.
2. SEO Friendly Images WP Plugin – As the name suggests, this plugin will automatically update all of your images with proper Alt and Title attributes. If your images do not have ALT and TITLE already set, SEO Friendly Images will add them according the options you set. Download plugin.
3. Media Library Gallery WP Plugin – This plugin will automatically create a gallery for every image you have stored in your media library. With this plugin you will create a browsable gallery for your users and more indexable content to search engines. Say hello to Google Image Search traffic! Download plugin.
4. Smush.it WP Plugin – Smush.it uses optimization techniques specific to image format to remove unnecessary bytes from image files. It is a completely safe procedure, meaning it optimizes images without changing their look or visual quality. This practice is also confirmed by Yahoo Extreme Web Performance team. Download plugin.
Images are often under rated by many web masters in terms of not being significant traffic generators, however, I personally have been taking full advantage of images I use in my site by taking some time optimizing them for better performance. That is why Image Search is my primary referral traffic generator. Since there is no intense competition for image rankings, you can easily rank well for highly desired keywords.
Some might say “Google Image Search, who cares?”
But, once you understand just how potent Google image search really is, then I guarantee that you will be first in line to take advantage of the associated benefits. If you have any additional tips or tools, please share them in the comments below. I will love to hear your thoughts.
Guest blogger Akmal Wardak writes on AkmalWardak.com – A blog about social media, software reviews, how-to tutorials and WordPress tips. You can also write a guest article and share your tips and tricks