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How to optimise images for your Online Store

SEO for images? Often considered to be one of the most overlooked areas for driving search traffic and sales conversions are your website images. Optimising your images assists in getting your ecommerce products to show up in Google image and web search.

Why image SEO is so important for your online store

Optimising the images on your online store:

  • Increases website performance making your web pages load faster. Google uses page load speed as one of its ranking factors in their algorithm
  • Assists in ranking your images in image seach engines - Google images, Bing images, Yahoo image search
  • Helps increase conversion
  • Improves your SEO
  • Improves accessibility for all your customers such as those who are vision impaired and using screen readers to view your page

Optimising your images is an important part of running a successful online store.

Let's take a look at how you can boost the SEO for your images.

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.

1. Use your own images

When running an online store with many products, it's tempting to cut corners and save some time by utilising online product photos or images from a supplier.

However, to ensure that you don't run into any problems with regards to ownership of the images, you'll either need to get written permission to use the images or better still use photos you've taken yourself.

Or, if you have the budget, you could use a professional photographer.

PRO TIP: Be sure to get written confirmation that the image rights have been signed over to you.  

2. Create a variety of images of your products

Online buyers aren't able to pick up and look at your products.

Create a variety of images showing your product in different colours, different dimensions and from different angles etc.

PRO TIP: Help your customers imagine what your product would look like for them. Add photos showing how your product can be used.

cwx woman running

3. Choose high quality images

Images evoke emotion.

Select high quality images that best represent your brand and product to give a feeling of professionalism and trust.

4. Choosing a file format

There are three (3) main file formats used for saving images for the web. These are JPEG, PNG and GIF.

  • JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) reduces the file size by up 15% more without losing quality. It is the most flexible of file formats and in most cases will be the file type of choice for your images.

  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files allow transparent backgrounds but have larger file sizes than JPEG. Mostly used for logos, but also handy if you want to overlay or group images.

  • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) lower quality than JPEG images and mainly used for icons and animations.

Most images saved for the web are in JPEG format.

5. Keep your image file sizes small

In 2010, Google started using page load time as a signal in their web search ranking algorithm.

Most people will wait about 3 seconds for a website to load on a desktop or laptop and about 5 seconds on mobile.

Keeping your image file sizes small will help reduce the amount of time your web page takes to load.

When we talk about image 'file size' we're not talking about the physical size of the image but the amount of space required to store that image on your web server. The larger the file size, the longer the image (and in turn your page) takes to load.

6. Resize images BEFORE uploading to the web

The larger the file size of an image, the longer it will take to download and the slower your website will take to load.

Don't upload large images to your website then resizing them using content manager programs, as the file will still be large and slow to load.

Resize your images by using Adobe Photoshop 'Save for Web' , PhotoFiltre or your Graphics program before uploading to your website. The graphics will be sharper and smaller in size and your website will be faster to load for visitors.
The ideal size for the main product image in FatGalah's shopping cart program, is 800x800px with a file size of around 30-40KB. Our software will then create a Thumbnail 200x200px with a file size of around 9KB.

7. Use of Thumbnails

Thumbnails are reduced sized versions of images used to make it easier and faster to display a group of products without slowing down the website's load speed or taking up too much real estate on your page. Provide the option for the visitor to view the larger image in a pop-up.

Aussie Table Tennis - showing variety of images of table tennis tablesOofos original thongs - showing a variety of angles

8. Monitor Page Load SpeedAmazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year.

Even when you create small file size images, you'll still need to keep an eye on your web page load speed as the overall number of thumbnails will effect how quickly your website loads.

Test your website page speed using Google's Page Speed Insights.

9. Create image file names that are SEO friendly

Search engines not only crawl text on your website they also search for keywords within your image file names. The filename can assist Google discover clues to the subject matter of the image.

Create descriptive, keyword-rich file names to optimise your images. For example, ooriginal-thongs-cloud-white.jpg rather than IMG0101.jpg

10. Create Alt Tags

'Alt' Tags are a text alternative for an image on your webpage that can be read by screenreaders and the vision impaired as an alternative to the image itself.
  • Describe your image using clear descriptive wording.
  • If your product image has a product code or specific name, include that in your Alt tag.
  • Don't 'keyword stuff' your Alt tag eg alt="best deals on thongs flip flops buy now online". This may be perceived as spam and will create a negative experience for your visitor.
Matt Cutts (from Google) discusses the alt attribute 


11. Protect your images

Unfortunately, images are sometimes copied and used outside of our websites without our permission and there's not a lot we can do to stop this. But there are some things you can do to optimise and benefit from this.
  • One way of protecting your images is to watermark or brand them with a logo or text.
  • Add Social Share buttons to your pages so that people can share to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc

Google provides some hints on how to best protect your images

12. Add a Image Sitemap

Anything that helps Google discover information about your website is a good thing. Adding an Image Sitemap may increase the likelihood that your images will be found in Image Search results. Google Search Console has some helpful tips on how to implement this

Optimising your images using the tips above will go a long way towards getting your ecommerce products to show up in Google image and web search.