Image SEO. Size Matters:
As a corporate photographer, I use Image SEO. The size of images on your website can make a big difference. Not only to load time but to your rank in searches by Google and other search engines.
Getting your Image Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) right matters, and is key to being in the top 10 on a search engine.
You have spent weeks putting your website together. All the words, graphics and brand photography. You know the domain name of your website address, and how to find it. When you type your company name up it pops! But how can other people find it?
We use search engines to find our answers, products, services, and entertainment. Your site is only discovered if you rank well with search engines. So, ranking well with Google is essential.
Google provides the lion's share of search traffic on the internet. Since 2010, they have always provided over 85% of all internet search traffic (statista). Ranking below the first page or two means that searchers will just not find you.
"Only 7% of searchers will ever see the third page of search results"
Google looks at "User eXperience" (UX) to decide where you should rank.
How Does UX Work?
The thinking is this: Google will provide your page as a result of a search.
If the searcher has a good experience on your page, then Google will serve your page to other searchers. If the experience is not good, then your page will not be so readily provided again.
“Optimizing for quality of user experience is key to the long-term success of any site on the web."
The key, then, is how to give a searcher the best experience possible when they visit your page. Google uses a variety of measures to define UX. The exact way is top secret and changes on almost a daily basis as the World Wide Web develops.
Repeatedly, over everything else, Google has stated that content is king. Write good content: "meet the needs of the searcher" and your website has done its job.
Google does give some technical hints to website creators on how to provide the best UX. Specifically, Google identifies the core needs as:
1. Loading time
2. Interactivity time
3. Visual stability
To some degree, these three measures all revolve around the time it takes to do them.
You can have Google give you a technical analysis on your website here: pagespeed
Backlinko analysed 11.8 million search engine results pages to determine "Which factors correlate with first-page search engine rankings?".
Number 3 on the list (behind quality and number of links) was "Comprehensive content with a high Content Grade”. These pages significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.
Content includes text as well as images and video.
Advertisers know the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Here are some more fascinating facts from Omnicore:
- LinkedIn posts with images get 2x higher engagement
- LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to re-share a video post
- Articles with titles between 40-49 characters perform the best on LinkedIn
- LinkedIn ads can potentially reach 13% of the world’s population
- Visual content is the single biggest contributor to social media (87%)
- Most experts agree that to maximise SEO, a blog post should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words
- 20% of people will read the text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video. So if you’re reading this, you’re in the minority
- Tweets with images get 35% more retweets than those without
- Posts with photos drive up to 180% more engagement than those without (Buzzfeed)
- Press releases with photos and/or videos receive almost twice as many views (Jeff Bullas)
- 6 out of 10 consumers are more likely to get in touch with a business if an image shows up during a local search (Jeff Bullas)
- 67% of consumers consider the quality of a picture very critical to their decision to purchase (Jeff Bullas)
- 93% of Facebook’s most engaging posts included photos (SocialBaker)
“Based on research into the Picture Superiority Effect, when we read text alone, we are likely to remember only 10 percent of the information 3 days later. If that information is presented to us as text combined with a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65 percent of the information 3 days later."
Adding images to your website is an excellent way of improving the UX. Illustrating your text with pictures reinforces your message. Images break up your text, making your page easier to read. Images increase the ability of the reader to take on information and remember it.
Images make a BIG difference.
Google believes that the better the content, the longer a user will spend time on your page. So, this must be a better user experience!
A rule of thumb: increasing the time someone spends on your website by 3 seconds moves your page up one rank.
The Problem With Images
Do you remember that "content is king" but there were other technical things to consider?
Well, speed happens to be an important factor in user experience.
A few years ago Google announced that slow websites would be penalised in rankings. Then web designers started focusing on speed.
One problem with images is that they slow your website down.
It seems like an impossible mission...
You need images. they help you rank better as they improve the content experience. They help your reader engage with your content and retain the information. They keep your audience on your page for longer.
But, images slow your page down. A slow page reduces the user experience. This lowers your rank.
If only you could have your cake and eat it. Images that are small in size (and so only slow down your page a little bit) but at the same time look just as good as big images.
Image SEO: Size
Here is the technical bit...
When we look at a photo online, we might be looking at it on our mobile phone, tablet, desktop, or even a wide-screen TV.
Your webpage serves the best image size for the device it will be viewed on. This is called a 'responsive' website.
If you don't have a responsive website it delivers the biggest of everything. Just in case. This means slow.
The size of the image we see should be appropriate for the device that we see it on.
It is worth noting that 'size' does not refer simply to the length and width of an image. It is a bit more complex. Size is a measure of the amount of data it takes to make an image. An image that your brain expects to be of good quality at the length and width you define.
Let me give you an example:
A roadside hoarding with a picture on it will be viewed from 100+ feet away. It will be seen as motorists whizz past.
Your brain only needs enough detail to know what the image represents. Your brain then fills in the blanks with what it thinks should be there. This is fine, your brain knows the image is far away.
In reality, the amount of data needed to create the image does not need to be that great. Even though the physical length and width are enormous it can be fairly low quality. This is because it is always viewed from afar (and at speed).
In contrast, a laptop with a retina display is held fairly close to the viewer. The viewer's brain expects to see a lot more detail. To give the brain the same quality as the hoarding will take much more data. Even though the length and width are much smaller, the viewer's brain knows it should be more detailed. The size of the image might have to be significantly greater as the brain knows it is closer.
- Hoarding / Billboard 400 x 840 px
- Printed Poster 1920 x 1080p
- Laptop retina display 2560 x 1600px
Having Your Cake
There is a solution: compression.
Compressing an image means it does not lose 'discernible visual quality'. But, it is much much smaller (up to 80%) in size.
So, you can have your images 80% smaller and yet look just the same on your website as the original would have done!
Your eyes cannot discern the difference between really big and quite big images. When viewed online even medium-sized images look great.
"The biggest cause of slow pages and low scores is large images. When I fixed this on my own site, I found a huge impact on speed. One of the top optimization techniques for fixing image size is compression. You can save an average of 50% or more on image size by using simple compression tools."
The discernible visual quality that a human can judge is determined by the relative size of the image. Looking at an image close up requires more detail. You can compress an image more if fine detail is not as vital.
For most people, an image will be used on a website, in a brochure, on an A3 poster, or on a business card. For most people, a compressed image is fine.
Your web developer will be able to sort out your image compression for you.
If you do not have a web developer you need a photographer who can sort out compression for you.
My clients receive compressed images. Every image is optimised for use on the web. If they need extra detail for a van wrap then they can get it.
For clients who do need super detail, I deliver uncompressed files. These are massive in size and retain every little bit of detail. They can zoom in to their heart's content.
Talk about your image needs today with a photographer who gets compression and appropriate image size: