Why Is SEO Image Optimization Important for eCommerce?
Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that allows users to sell their goods or services to the public. Like any platform that sells products directly to consumers, high-quality photos play an important role in attracting customers and showing off products.
Photos are an effective tool to show off the product and the lifestyle that comes with it. Product photos on any given website are a representation of what consumers are purchasing and gives them the context of how a product or good will fit into their life.
Not only are high-resolution photos beneficial to your potential customers, but when optimized correctly, images can play an important role in a successful SEO strategy.
Search engine optimization examines the quality and quantity of website traffic and ranks websites accordingly. When done correctly, SEO can have a significant impact on the growth of a business.
What Is Image Optimization?
Image optimization is the process that helps increase rankings on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The ideal way to optimize an image is to reduce its file size as much as possible without sacrificing the image’s quality. Doing so can help reduce how long it takes your website pages to load and can help increase your SEO rankings.
Google factors in the image’s quality, format, dimension, size, and resolution when determining how it should rank photos on any given website. The goal is to find the lowest-possible combination of those factors while keeping the smallest image size; this approach can help improve SEO.
Why is Optimization Important to Technical SEO?
Google notes that hundreds of millions of Internet users utilize Google Images on a daily basis to explore new visual content. In fact, according to Moz, Google Image searches account for about 27 percent of all search queries on the Internet’s top 10 search properties. This includes sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Google News, Bing and more.
Here are some ways in which optimization can have a positive impact on SEO.
- Reduces Page Load Speed
Image optimization is important for a variety of reasons, including page load speed. This phrase represents the amount of time it takes for your web page to completely load for a user. The ideal page load time from a customer perspective is fewer than 2 seconds per site.
Many factors come into play during this time, including who you choose to host your website in addition to its website and design layout. Optimizing images can help significantly improve your website’s page load speed.
- Improved User Experience
Because websites are loading faster thanks to optimized images, this in turn creates a positive user experience. The better the user experience on your website, the more often that visitor will want to come back to your site. This helps to create a positive association between your brand and positive user experience.
Improved user experience helps to cement your brand as trustworthy and shows that you’re committed to always putting your customers first.
- Improves SEO Ranking
As of 2010, it has been clear that Google utilizes page load speed as an SEO ranking factor. Simply put, faster websites rank better than sites that take longer to load. Optimizing images is an important part of this equation.
Technical Needs for Image Optimization
If you are doing everything you can to promote your business but your photos still never show up in Google Image’s results, consider altering the following variables to yield better results.
Image File Size
Make a strong first impression on users by having fast load times. As 50 percent of consumers won’t wait 3 seconds for an eCommerce site to load, you need to be able to quickly grab their attention. Large images that slowly trickle onto the screen will have consumers clicking out without a second thought.
The more images you have on your site, the more important it is to ensure they are a small image file size. The best size for website images is 70 kb or below, which can sometimes be a challenge in the world of eCommerce.
In addition to using Adobe Photoshop, there are a variety of online tools that allow you to compress images. Don’t overlook this step as part of the SEO image optimization process.
Image File Name
The image’s file name is one of the easiest and most important tactics in boosting image SEO. The file name itself should include relevant keywords that are utilized throughout other website copy. “Stop” words such as “a, the, in, of, by” should be omitted and replaced with a dash instead.
Search engines like Google not only crawl your site’s copy but the image file names as well. Using language that is natural to the searcher can be a helpful tactic in making the files relevant and helpful.
There are three image formats that are typically found on the web: JPEG, GIF and PNG. In terms of what format is best for your website’s SEO, opt for JPEG. They provide the highest quality images for the smallest-possible file size, an important combination for your eCommerce site.
If JPEGs aren’t an option for your site, PNGs are a strong alternative, specifically PNG-8 files over PNG-24 files.
Sitemap for Images
Another tactic to get your images noticed by Google is to use them in your sitemap. A sitemap is a list of the web pages on your site and how they are related to one another. Sitemaps also show the structure in which your site should be crawled by search engines.
Draw strategic attention to your images by listing their location in an image-specific sitemap. On their own, web crawlers cannot crawl images that aren’t listed in the webpage source code.
In order to do so, eCommerce users can edit their robots.txt file to outline the image in the sitemap. Users can also submit the sitemap to Google itself via Search Console. Some may even make a completely separate sitemap solely for photos.
It’s important to note that just because you use sitemaps to improve the chances of your website being indexed by Google, it is not automatic or guaranteed.
Text Optimization for Images
What Are Alt and Title Tags for Images?
Alt and title attributes of a page are commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text. These technically aren’t tags, but attributes. Editing these attributes is a simple yet effective tactic to get your photos noticed by Google. Editing alt and title tags can also help improve the relevancy and user experience of a page.
Alt text provides insight on what the image contains and the purpose of the image. For example, if your website features an image acting as a button, the alt text would say something like “button to purchase product X.” All site images should have alt text not only to help improve SEO but to help the blind or disabled who utilize alt text to navigate each website.
The image title appears when you hover over the photo. This is usually some sort of call to action but it is not a required addition to your SEO strategy. If you think your title attribute is extremely relevant, you can include it elsewhere throughout your website.
How Does It Tie Into SEO?
Google hasn’t been shy about alluding to how important alt text is to them. Not only does Google utilize alt text to not only determine what is in the image itself but to gain context on how it fits into the surrounding text.
Tips for Creating Images for Customers, Not Robots
Avoid Using Stock Photos
Utilizing optimized images as an SEO tactic will help improve your ranking, but what about your customers? When a current or potential customer lands on your website, cheesy stock photos can turn them off from your brand as they are extremely impersonal.
From a science perspective, authentic photos matter, too. The human brain processes visual information such as images roughly 60,000 times faster than textual information. When a user is browsing your site and notices personalized, custom images that are directly representative of your brand, it can create a lasting impact.
Best Practices for Product Images
Quality product images can help set up your brand for success. As technology becomes more advanced, consumers expect to see nearly every angle of a product before they spend money on it. This starts with capturing product images.
When creating raw images, try to shoot them in a way that showcases their detail and in the best light; natural light is always going to photograph better than manufactured light. This will reduce the amount of editing that needs to be done later on. Invest in a quality DSLR camera if possible, but smartphones are also becoming increasingly better at snapping photos, too.
Keep the lighting and background as consistent as possible when taking product imagery. It’s best to opt for a plain white background to help showcase the product with minimal distraction. Spending the extra money to get your photos professionally retouched is always worth it, and it’s a lot cheaper than you may expect. Images typically cost $3-5 per photo to be professionally retouched.
Why Is it so Important to Have High-Quality Product Photos on eCommerce Sites?
Selling a product online is significantly easier when you let quality photos do the majority of the legwork for you. Photos are the first thing that consumers want to look at when deciding whether or not they are interested in your product.
If you’ve ever tried to online shop by browsing item descriptions instead of photos, you’ll quickly understand the importance of strong visuals throughout an eCommerce website. Not only do photos help us quickly scan and determine what we want, but they are shareable on social media platforms, too.
Photos are also a way to build trust between your brand and the customer. A lack of photos may cause consumers to feel skeptical about what they are actually purchasing.
There is a seemingly endless number of benefits of having images for your eCommerce site. Beyond helping boost SEO on the technical side of the business, quality images can also help consumers make purchasing decisions.
At Catapult Revenue, our eCommerce experts are happy to help you elevate your website and walk you through how to leverage beautiful, optimized photos to represent your brand. Our Shopify SEO gurus can help build your media library with quality photos and use them in the most effective way possible.
To see how we can help your business thrive, please get in touch with us today. We’ll even provide a full assessment absolutely free of charge.