When you want your website to look professional and enticing for visitors, optimizing images is a must. Creating optimized images can have a huge impact on how search engines view your website. It also affects user engagement rates and site performance.
Let's Define It
Image optimization is the process of creating high-quality images in the right format, dimension, size and resolution while keeping your page load time low. Unoptimized images can cause a website to load slowly, which can lead to a poor user experience and lower search engine rankings. In this article, we will discuss how you can optimize images for your website.
Why Images Are so Important
Taking the time to perfect your website's images is crucial for a variety of reasons. High-quality images help build trust with potential customers. If your website has blurry or low-quality images, it may give visitors the impression that your business is unprofessional or doesn't care about its online presence. With optimized image quality, your web pages will have more room for storage and bandwidth and faster website backups.
Also, with page load speed as a factor in search engine ranking, you'll want to optimize images as part of your digital marketing strategy. Every image you add to your website contributes directly to its loading time; if images load slowly, that will make it harder for people to find your business online, negatively impacting overall engagement with potential customers. Fast-loading pages provide better user experiences, such as easy navigation and follow through on call-to-actions.
Proper image optimization techniques like naming conventions and alt tags can help improve search engine rankings. Naming allows search engines to crawl the images and display them in image searches. Alt tags on your images help improve your SEO results and provide text descriptions that allow screen readers to describe them to visually impaired users who may not be able to see them.
Now that you understand exactly how images affect your online business, let's move on to the different types of formats you should consider using on your website.
Using the right image format is important because it can significantly reduce the file size and help improve page load times. Here are the main types of file formats and what you can use them for:
JPEG and JPG
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a commonly used image format that provides good quality while keeping file sizes relatively small. You will have maximum quality with minimum file size, it is best used for photographs and complex images, and it supports millions of colors. For reference, JPG is what we use when building websites here at Eternity.
Professional photographers prefer using uncompressed raw JPEG files because they give crystal clear clarity and make for easy editing. Just be mindful that JPEGs use a lossy compression process – meaning that some data from the image is permanently deleted when it’s made smaller. This could compromise the quality of your file in the long term because each time you edit and save it, you lose more data.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is another popular format that supports transparency and lossless compression. PNGs are great for graphics with transparent backgrounds such as logos, icons, or illustrations with sharp edges or text overlays.
A PNG can be resized smaller and never loses data compared to a JPEG which, when compressed, becomes blurry. This makes them the perfect use for logos, icons, illustrations and other visuals with sharp edges. However, it has limited color support compared to JPEG.
WebP is a new image format developed by Google that supports both lossy and lossless compression as well as animation. It offers better quality than JPEG and PNG while maintaining smaller file sizes. While benefits include lossy and lossless compression, smaller file sizes and animation support, it is important to note that WebP is not widely supported by all web browsers yet.
You may recognize this one from sending a funny animation on your text messages. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an animated format consisting of multiple frames displayed in sequence creating the illusion of animation. It has a small file size due to limited color support and is most suitable for simple animations. GIFs are best used sparingly as they can become distracting if overused, but work well as simple animations like loading icons or for small product demos.
Tools For Image Optimization
When you are crafting the best images possible for your web page, you will most likely end up using some form of software to edit it into the best version. Various image editing software exists online that helps in optimizing image files before uploading.
Here are some popular options:
- Adobe: great for editing, designing and resizing images.
- GIMP: a free open source image editor that is compatible with many platforms.
- TinyPNG: a free photo compressor PNG, WebP and JPEG images.
After choosing the right image format, it's time to focus on reducing their size without sacrificing too much quality. You can either use a resizing or compression technique to get your image ready for your website.
To resize, crop larger pictures down means fewer pixels need rendering resulting in smaller file sizes. To compress, you can either use lossy or lossless. Lossy compressed files remove data deemed unnecessary by algorithms which reduces quality. Lossless Compression uses algorithms that compress files without discarding data hence maintaining quality albeit at larger file sizes.
Tip: At Eternity, we like to use Canva to get images just the right size with graphic design and resizing tools. We use the "Create a Design" button and drop our photos in so that they are all the exact same size when we upload them to a page – giving a clean, consistent and professional look.
Naming Conventions and Alt Tags
Take the time to create an intentional image description on the upload file as well as on the tags so that they are direct and concise, and I always include SEO keywords when appropriate.
Alt tags act as descriptions, allowing screen readers to describe them which gives accessibility benefits. This is especially important if there’s anyone who relies on assistive technology visiting your site and ensures that your website is ADA compliant. Creating the right alt tags can make the difference in how effective your images are in bringing potential customers to your business.
Also, proper naming conventions help in organizing files, making it easier when searching through archives later on.
Make Your Website Shine
By following these tips above, you’ll end up with fast-loading pages displaying high-quality optimized imagery that improves your website’s overall user experience. You can get more value out of your images and gain better engagement rates, ultimately leading towards achieving your business goals.
If you have any questions or would like help making your website images the best they can be, please reach out to us! We look forward to hearing from you.