Size Matters: Image SEO

Image SEO. The size of images on your website can make a big difference to where you 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.

So, you have spent weeks putting your website together. You know where it is and just how to find it. But how can other people find it?

Mostly, we use search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find answers, discover products and services, and be entertained on the internet.

To rank well with Google* and come up in the list of the first few websites on the first page when someone searches, your number one priority should be what Google calls "User eXperience" (UX).

Ranking below the first page or two means that searchers will just not find you.

*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).

"Only 7% of searchers will ever see the third page of search results"



User eXperience is the key to success for your website

How Does UX Work?

The thinking is this: Google will provide your page as a result from your 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 to all of this is how to give the searcher the best experience possible when they visit your page. Google uses a variety of measures to define User eXperience (UX). The exact way that this is done is top secret and changes on almost a daily basis as the internet 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.

In addition, they do give technical hints to website creators on how to best create their pages to give the best UX from a technical point of view (things other than content). Specifically, Google identifies the core user experience needs as: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. To some degree, these three measures all revolve around the time it takes to do them.

You can have Google give you your technical data on your website here: pagespeed

    Good Content

    I am not going to comment on the actual words used (not my strong point) on your site, but the number one priority is that your page content must provide a good user experience (UX) to the searcher by giving them the information that they were looking for.

    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.

    Now, advertisers know that 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 assets are the single biggest content contributor when it comes to social media (87%) in 2019
    • 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 that include photos and/or videos receive almost twice as many views as those that do not (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 a product. Fewer people rated product-specific information, long descriptions, and ratings and reviews as equally important (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."

    John Medina, Brain Rules

    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, and 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!

    As a rule of thumb, increasing the time someone spends on your website by 3 seconds moves your page up one rank in searches.


    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.

    When Google announced that slow websites would be penalised in rankings, people started focusing on speed.

    The problem with images is that they slow your website down.

    It seems like an impossible mission...

    You need images to rank better as they improve the content experience. They help your reader engage with your content, and they help your reader retain the information. They keep your reader on your page. But, images also slow your page down, which lowers the user experience and, therefore, 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) and 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 is being viewed on. This is called a 'responsive' webpage. If you don't have one of these, your website delivers the most of everything to the viewer (and so the slowest) and usually makes it difficult to read on a mobile or tablet.

    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 that your brain expects to be of good quality at the length and width you define.

    Let me give you an example:

    A hoarding with a picture on it will be viewed from 100+ feet away. Your brain only needs enough detail to know what the image is, then it fills in the blanks with something as it knows the image is far away. In reality, the size of the image on the hoarding does not need to be that great, even though the physical length and width are enormous. because it is always viewed from afar.

    A retina display laptop is held fairly close to the viewer, and so the brain expects to see a lot more detail. So, even though the length and width of the image are much smaller than the hoarding, 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

    Image SEO: Having Your Cake

    Compressing an image means that it does not lose 'discernible visual quality' but is much much smaller (up to 80% smaller) 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!

    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. If you commission high-level professional technical images, then you will be given uncompressed files. These are massive in size but retain every little bit of detail. You can zoom in to your heart's content.

    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 just fine.

    Modern cameras create massive images. Even mobile phones create very large images that are usually way too large for anything on the internet and even bigger than your widescreen TV ever needs. Not only that, your eyes cannot even discern the differences between really big and quite big, or even medium-sized images when they are viewed online.

    Your web developer will be able to sort out your image SEO for you.

    If you do not have a web developer or paid them to make your site and then add content, you need a photographer who can sort out compression for you.


    Image SEO: Image Size is not just the physical size

    Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Google give you the ideal dimensions for your images. This is a great step towards reducing the load time of your webpage. Further compressing your images for online viewing makes another huge difference to image size and reduces load time even more.

    "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."

    Neil Patel, US top 100 entrepreneur, web influencer

    Hiring a professional Photographer

    A professional personal branding photographer will deliver your images to you in both compressed large and compressed small versions. These are ideal for online as well as for print.

    In addition, they will also help you sharpen your images appropriately. Websites, social media, and print all look best with different levels of sharpening as well as compression.

    If you would like to talk about your image needs with a photographer who gets compression and appropriate image size, get in contact today:

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