Since, oh, about 1995, having a website for your business is essential if you want to stay competitive. Unfortunately, a lot of business sites look like it’s still 1995.

We’re not necessarily talking about outdated graphic design issues, although that is something businesses struggle with as well. We’re talking about image SEO—the process of optimizing photos and other graphics so they load fast on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Why does it matter? Read on ….

Is Image Optimization Important for Business Websites?

So, who cares if your website loads in five seconds instead of two seconds?

Your customers do. Google does.

People are impatient, and you might be stunned to learn how many people will hit that “back” button and visit another website if they find themselves looking at your site and waiting for an image to load.

Your customers know that time is their most valuable resource, so you better not waste it. Sure, social media may be partially to blame for making attention spans shorter. Speaking of social media, your business may be tempted to focus on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, rather than on your website. Go where people are, right? Let Mark Zuckerberg optimize your photos himself, right?

Your Website=Your Message

In truth, every business needs a home to make the most out of its brand. This home needs compelling content that will drive traffic, plus quality images to maximize customer engagement. Search engine optimization, or SEO, may be second nature at this point, but a lot of businesses don’t think about optimizing images. At Symphonic, we encourage all our clients to learn all about image SEO and find out how to boost image search rankings.

Put simply, images are important for bolstering the message of your business website. That much is clear, but the reason is a bit more complicated. Most search engines are applying more value to content with images, as users often find images to be more engaging than text-only content. Since search engines allow for multiple means of user engagement, organic search rankings are bound to improve.

The general rule of thumb with SEO is that you’re going to rank higher when you convey useful information concisely and provide an engaging user experience. Images are an important part of the online environment … you should understand that by now. Instagram and Pinterest didn’t get as popular as they are by delivering walls of text.

How Do You Name Images for SEO?

When it comes to optimizing your images for SEO, the primary factor you need to consider is the alt attribute, or alt tag. This tag is a short description of what the image depicts. It allows search engines and screen readers (for blind web searchers) to understand the image, so you can see how important it is for SEO. While the title tag can feature keywords as well, your primary focus for SEO should always be the alt tag.

Since the alt text plays the biggest role for SEO here, that’s where you should direct your focus. The text doesn’t have to be long — usually a few words will do the trick. Just make sure it includes one of your page’s keywords and is descriptive enough to be useful. Don’t use this space to stuff keywords. That kind of practice doesn’t work in SEO anymore. Instead, think of what a visually-impaired reader would find most useful.

What About Image SEO for Google Image Search?

Google image searches have changed over the past few years. Not too long ago, your image search results page would allow you to isolate any of the images among the results and view it on its own. These days, however, Google allows for a full-size image within the search results page itself, directing users to the image’s host website should they click further.

With the new way Google image searches work, it’s very hard to gather data on image SEO since most people just view the full size image without clicking to the host site. Because of that, images are especially important if your business does anything visually. From home renovations, crafters and decorators to auto sales and fine art, optimizing SEO for your images is a must.

If you’re a photographer or visual artist, optimizing images is a given. After all, the visual aspect of your work is your product, and that should be at the forefront of your brand. Additionally, make sure you optimize your images if you sell products of any kind. When people remember what your product looks like but not the specific name, they may try an image search to find you.

A note on file formats: JPEG images are a safe bet in most cases, but your content may be better augmented with PNG and GIF images. Just keep in mind that GIFs aren’t ideal for images with too many colors. As long as your audience is responding, however, the file type won’t matter in terms of SEO.

Optimize Your Images With Symphonic Digital

Image SEO can be a huge undertaking, but we’re always happy to help. At Symphonic Digital, you can access help from skilled and dedicated experts who work with SEO best practices every day. Turn your SEO and digital marketing strategy into the powerhouse it can be with our data-driven and performance-based methodology and results. Contact us today to get started.