As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In the Internet age, it is especially true, as more and more users are shifting from reading to scanning. High-quality images are essential to capture users’ attention and keep it on your products, services, or offers. Considering the enormous potential of visual media, businesses cannot let images be the least of their worries. Quality, size, name, and a massive array of other properties can affect how both search engines and humans perceive your visuals. And today, we will discuss three crucial transformations, from naming to using image CDN, that will take your image game to the next level.
Mind the Image’s Size and Format
When adding product images, you feel like using the highest resolution will compel users to buy. So you upload a photo, use the source code to set the correct dimensions, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. The problem is that you lose visitors instead of achieving conversions. Huge detailed images slow down the load time, and few users are willing to wait for over three seconds for a page to load. They leave and never return despite your best intentions.
Instead, use Photoshop or any other image editor to crop down the photo’s dimensions and reduce the file to a minimum possible size without making it look blurry. If your chosen software possesses a ‘Save for Web’ feature, that’s what you should use. For a closer look, provide an option to see the larger image in a new window or a pop-up. This way, you kill two birds with one stone. The website load time is optimal for those in a hurry, while detail-oriented buyers still get a chance to see those details.
JPEG is a winner among popular web formats, as it offers the best quality at the smallest file size. PNG and GIF images of the same size as JPEG will look bleak and even pixelated. Still, if you have no other option for tiny, simple images, PNG is a solid choice, especially if you shrink it down to PNG-8. Steer clear from proprietary formats that professional image editors use, as they don’t translate well to the web.
Make a habit of checking your image dimensions, file size, and format before uploading it to the website. We’ll talk about a clever way to automate this process in a minute.
Make the Image Accessible to Humans and Search Engines
Google now offers an image search option, but many users still rely on written or spoken text to find products or services. Therefore, when your illustrations fit the size and format requirements, it’s time to work on the copy that comes with them.
Start with the names. Never leave your images with default camera names. They serve no purpose and may ruin your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Use common sense and keyword tools to name the images in a way that will make your website rise in search rankings. The product’s name, color, size, make, and other specific details are a good place to start.
The same rules apply to alt text. Even if it seems redundant and outdated, it is still a valuable image attribute that affects your search ranking position. You can include additional details in the alt text field, but never stuff it choke-full of keywords, because search engines may penalize your website.
Adding images to sitemaps is also an effective way to attract Google’s attention. You can either add a line to the robots.txt file to direct search engines to the sitemap or submit it via Search Console. You can even create an additional sitemap that is exclusive to images if you want to increase their chances of being indexed.
While your customers might not see the name and alt attributes, they are sure to see the image description. Moreover, they are bound to pay more attention to the copy around the visual. Use this tendency to your advantage to increase conversions.
Another way to improve relationships with website users or customers is by adding social media sharing capabilities to your images. With social buttons always at the ready, you can subtly push the users toward sharing your visual content, thus broadening the reach and possibly attracting new visitors.
Use Image CDN Instead of Manual Transformations
Content delivery networks (CDNs) take over the transformation, optimization, and delivery of visual content to website visitors. They save staff-hours and reduce overall business expenses. While techies can set up and maintain a self-managed CDN, like Thumbor, most SMBs rely on third-party image CDNs, such as UploadCare. Upon upload, such solutions take care of every need, including:
- Conversion to web-friendly formats;
- Adjusting quality and compressing size for fast loading;
- On-the-fly optimization for different screen sizes;
- Automatic face and object recognition for smart cropping and tagging;
- Color recognition for quick color-based searches.
Unlike Thumbor, third-party CDNs do not require in-depth technical knowledge and regular maintenance. Instead, you can create an account in minutes, select a suitable pricing plan, and upload the first batch of images within minutes. It is a hassle-free solution for businesses dealing with a large volume of visual content, such as retail, healthcare, education, marketing, publishing, and media.
Whether you choose to jump on the image CDN train or optimize the visuals manually, remember to cater to both the human and the machine. Optimize images to lower the load time, increase search engine visibility, and compel users to become paying customers.