If you’re like most people, you add a photo to your site by uploading a stock photo from your backend to your webpage. The problem with this approach is that it bogs down your site and makes it sluggish.

Most importantly, failure to use tried and tested image optimization techniques could significantly limit your website’s visibility to Google and other search engines. In contrast, employing the proper methods can boost your rankings and drive a lot of traffic to your site.

Here are 11 tips on how to optimize your images and make your site more SEO friendly:

1. Select the Right Image Format

At first, the many different types of image formats can seem intimidating. It’s important to understand them, so you can choose the right images for your web pages. Even though there are multiple formats, only three of them are commonly used for web pages:

  • PNG: They have large file sizes, but the images are high-quality.
  • JPEG: The image quality is not as good as PNG, but it’s adjustable.
  • WebP: The only image format that Chrome and Firefox browsers support.

In most cases, PNG is the most suitable format for optimizing your images.

2. Create SEO-friendly Alt Text

Suppose a browser fails to render an image correctly. In that case, the image alt text is an alternative way to identify the content of an image. The alt text appears as text in the space where the image was meant to appear. Make sure the alt text matches the contents of the image as much as possible. It’s meant to help give a description of the image for search engines to understand more clearly.

Choosing the appropriate alt text for your images optimizes and improves your on-page SEO. This is due to search engines using the alt text to relate images with keywords. It also improves the user experience for visually impaired people who visit your site.

Additionally, keep in mind that the cached version of a webpage includes the alt text for images. You can further optimize your images by using the alt text as an anchor text for internal links that point to the image.

3. Create SEO-friendly Image File Names

Using filenames that are rich in keywords can make a huge difference in your SEO rankings. The file name is among one of the many things that search engines use to glean information about an image. Avoid using non-specific file names such as “IMG_934230”. Google and other searches have a harder time making sense of them. Instead, use a filename that gives search engines relevant information about your image.

4. Define Your Image Dimensions

Your source code must define your image dimension whenever you use progressive web apps (PWAs) or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). Even when you’re using neither, defining the height and width of images on your web pages is still advisable to maximize the user experience.

Moreover, defining your dimensions lets browsers set the size of images before loading the CSS. As a result, it prevents web pages from jumping as they load. Image dimension attributes also prevent issues with cumulative layout shifts (CLS). It achieves this by instructing browsers on how to allocate resources.

5. Use the Right Image File Structure

Google indicated, in its 2018 Image Guidelines, that the image file name and path are among its many ranking factors. So, keep this in mind when formulating the image file structure. For example, suppose you have a wide variety of products in your catalog. In that case, consider using a subfolder structure with names that match the image (smartphones, t-shirts, etc.) rather than generic subfolder names.

6. Compress Your Images for Faster Page-loading

Uncompressed images can slow your website down to a crawl. Search engines certainly don’t like them. Experts on making images SEO-friendly recommend compressing images with Photoshop or WordPress plugins to make your site load faster.

Alternatively, you can use an image CDN that optimizes images based on the device it displays. The difference in page loading speed, after you compress your images, can be profound. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check.

7. Use Original Images Whenever You Can

Too many stock images makes your site look bland and unoriginal. The last thing you want is for a visitor on your site to recognize a stock photo from another site. This can ultimately hurt your credibility. Well-optimized stock images certainly have their place. However, for maximum positive impact on your SEO, use unique, high-quality images.

Doing so can improve your rankings on relevant searches because high-quality images are an essential aspect of a positive user experience. Note that larger images tend to feature most in Google Discover. You can use the following setting to set images to at least 1200px. Max-image-preview:large. Alternatively, you can use AMP. It’s also good to note to avoid using logos as images.

8. Match Your On-page SEO Element With Your Images

Google’s image search algorithm also relies on various on-page SEO elements. For example, the search engine explains each result in the search engine result page (SERP) using a title and snippet.

Among the sources that Google uses to obtain this information are the meta tags and titles. When creating header tags, metadata, structured data, and page copy, keep this idea in mind. All of these determine how well your image is optimized.

9. Use Mobile-friendly Images

Making your website mobile-friendly improves conversions and minimizes the bounce rate. As a result, it promotes user engagement and optimizes your rankings. Optimizing your images is an essential step toward making your website mobile-friendly. Use responsive images that scale according to the device on which a user views the website.

For example, the Firefox browser lets you include additional source images to ensure that the webpage is more responsive to the device in use. For the best results, be sure to format the other source images with the appropriate attribute values.

10. Include Images in Your Sitemap

Your sitemap must include your images. You can either create a separate sitemap for your images or add the images to your sitemap. Doing so makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and index your images.

Consequently, your rankings improve, and your site receives more traffic. One idea is using the Yoast sitemap plugin if you use a WordPress site. This could help you better understand the SEO behind your site and articles.

11. Avoid Violating Image Copyrights

Ensure that there are no copyright issues with the images you choose. Doing so ensures that you don’t get slapped with an expensive image copyright lawsuit. Even when you use images from stock photography websites such as Shutterstock or Getty Images, follow the practice of ensuring that you have the license to use the images.

Otherwise, you stand the risk of receiving a notice from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) stating that you have violated copyrights. One good way to find good photos available for reuse is by filtering results for images in Google based on availability for reuse.

Optimize Your Images for Better Rankings

Follow the image optimization tips discussed in this article to significantly improve your site’s rankings. If you’re wondering where to start, some good places would be selecting the appropriate image file format, minimizing the image file size, matching your on-page SEO element with your images, and including your images in your sitemap.

Clearly, optimizing images on your website takes work. If you’re still confused on where to start, let Boostability help your business get started! With our affordable small business SEO services, Boostability has the tools to help you succeed. Learn more today about how your business can start ranking.


Ansley is the former Content Marketing Manager at Boostability. Since graduating from Utah State University with two degrees in Communication Studies and Journalism: Public Relations, Ansley specializes in creating engaging and informative SEO content for readers, customers, and partners through different marketing channels. Along with creating new content, Ansley works to keep content organized and creates and executes new content strategies. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, visit National Parks, and loves all things Disney.