Making your website easy to find is vital if you work in e-commerce and want to sell more products online. Image optimization is a vital tool to help you achieve this. Otherwise, no matter how good the things you are selling are, very few people are likely to find your products. Fortunately, focusing on getting your image SEO strategy right can ensure you reach your audience.
Image SEO can also improve user experiences of your website and help you grow your e-commerce website. Here, we look at the top 10 image SEO tips for e-commerce to help you increase traffic to your site. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to turning clicks into sales.
What is image SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. When we add the word ‘image’ to the front of it, it effectively refers to image optimization. Image optimization involves minimizing image file sizes without losing quality to help keep site loading times down and providing appropriate metadata. Therefore, image SEO is about getting the file formatting right, ensuring it is an appropriate size, and making sure the filename reflects the image itself.
Most people spend a lot of time thinking about how their written content can help move them up search engine results pages (SERPs). However, people often overlook that images can improve rankings too. Next, we look at 10 top tips for image SEO to improve e-commerce sales.
1. Label images descriptively
It is always tempting to use the default file names assigned by your camera given it provides unique references. However, for the best image SEO rankings, descriptive language is vital. Ideally, relevant keywords should be used as search engines look for these in your image file names as well as the text on your site. Name your files as you go and this seemingly onerous task becomes easy.
Say you have a picture of a handmade mug currently automatically labeled as IMG_4074.JPG. This could be renamed in a number of more useful ways, such as:
- 2020 Handmade Ceramic Mug
- Handmade Pottery Coffee Cup
- Local Handmade Pottery
If you know how, you can use analytics from your webpage to pick the sort of keywords your customers are likely to use. However, simply focusing on being descriptive and choosing words that are relevant to the picture is often enough if web analytics aren’t your thing.
2. Select optimized alt attribute metadata
As well as giving your image files good labels, you should also provide optimized alt attribute descriptions in your Html metadata code. These get displayed when your images cannot load for some reason which is beneficial for end-users. However, they also aid with web accessibility, are beneficial for SEO rankings and are vital if you want your e-commerce images to appear higher in Google image searches.
You can use a similar title to the image file name but try not to stuff alt attributes with too many keywords. Make sure to use different alt attribute tags for different angles of your products though as Google rewards this. You should also be warned: do not use alt attributes on images you use decoratively on your site as this may lead to you being penalized.
3. Use appropriate file types
When it comes to e-commerce, JPEGs tend to be the most appropriate file type. This is because you get the best combination of quality and file size. You can use PNGs but go for PNG-8 over PNG-24 as their file sizes are much smaller. GIFs can be used as decorative images and thumbnails but don’t make a great choice for product images as their file size is large. Ultimately, JPEGs retain their image quality with smaller file sizes than GIFs and PNGs can manage.
4. Reduce image file size
Amazon found that just 100 milliseconds led to a 1% drop in sales, equating to $1.6 billion in lost earnings a year if page loads are slowed by 1 second. A half-second drop in Google search generation also leads to a drop in traffic to sites of 20%. This, combined with the fact that Google uses page loading times in their SEO ranking algorithm, means keeping your image file sizes under control is a vital component of an image SEO strategy.
Choosing the right file type helps with this. Image hosting sites like Img.vision can also help by ensuring page loads times are reduced. However, even when using image hosting it helps to provide images in appropriate sizes for the different formats they are going to be used in. For eCommerce, the file size target should be under 70Kb for the largest images.
5. Use optimized thumbnails
Thumbnails are vital in e-commerce as they show off your product. However, you need to optimize thumbnails to improve page loading speeds. Given how small thumbnails are, you can get away with reducing the quality of the image more. The lower the file size you are happy with the better as thumbnails can have a massive impact on your page loading time. You also want to prevent thumbnails being indexed as primary Google search images so make sure to give them suitable alt labels.
6. Choose a range of product angles
For ecommerce it is vital to provide a range of shots of your products. When thinking about image SEO, you also need to consider the file sizes of these images as well as the alt attribute tags. Each shot should have a different tag that reflects the angle. Take the example of the handmade pottery above. This might mean you have 4 product shots reflected by the following alt attributes:
- Alt=”Handmade pottery coffee mug design”
- Alt=”Handmade pottery coffee mug interior”
- Alt=”Handmade pottery coffee mug handle”
- Alt=”Handmade pottery coffee mug closeup”
7. Use different image dimensions
Just as your thumbnails should be small files, you also want to ensure all of your other image shots are appropriate dimensions. Using appropriate dimensions for different angles and shots of your ecommerce products means you won’t have any wasted space. You’ll also be able to keep file size down without causing issues with image quality. The key thing to avoid is using a larger file size than necessary and leaving it for the browser to shrink the dimensions using the source code. You can always include a link to a larger image as well.
8. Monitor image conversion rates
We might design things in a certain way because we expect it to have the best success. However, unless we monitor this, we will never know if our assumptions are correct. As such, when thinking about image optimization we need to try out different approaches and seeing which ones come off. This could be trying different numbers of product images on a page, looking at which angles see the highest click-through rates, or using customer surveys.
9. Use sitemaps
You can also submit your page sitemap to the Google search console. Whilst this approach doesn’t guarantee Google will index your images, it helps improve image SEO. Follow Google’s Image Sitemaps instructions for the best results.
10. Remove broken links
When having a major overhaul of your site it is easy to cause disruptions to certain areas. This can lead to broken links that will lead to negative SEO ranking points. Finding these on your own is an impossible task. However, you can use crawler tools to run regular checks for “Page 404 Not Found” error messages on your site and take the time to remove them or re-direct them accordingly.