How To Optimize Images For WordPress

Search engine optimization is a big deal these days. People spend a lot of money on professional website maintenance that will help them rank higher in Google search results, spend time researching keywords, and invest energy into ensuring that their website appears on the first page of search results. However, focusing on words alone is not enough. While optimizing text is important, you should also optimize images for WordPress. That way you can improve your SEO and make sure your website runs smoother and faster. Both of these things translate directly to more traffic for you. So what do you need to do?

Optimize images for WordPress by resizing them in order to improve the loading speed

One of the main reasons WordPress experts optimize images is to speed up page loading. Users are unlikely to stay on a page that takes too long to load, so improving loading speeds by even a few seconds can be crucial. An easy way to do so is to make the images on the page smaller. “But I want people to enjoy high-quality images on my website,” you might say. And we totally support that! We are talking about reducing image size without sacrificing quality.

Forest path in the fall.
You can have beautiful, high-quality images that load fast with the help of optimization.

Scaling and cropping to the perfect size and resolution

There are a number of places where you can download free images for your WP website. However, those tend to be very high resolution, as big as 2000px in width. Very few websites have used for images like that in full size. Besides, you don’t actually want the images you put on your website to be too big – it won’t look good. Instead, what you want is a beautiful and high-quality image no bigger than the width of the text you’re putting it in. The perfect size will depend on your website and what you’re trying to achieve with the images.

Either way, what you can do is resize the image until it fits your needs. There are two very easy ways to do this: scaling and cropping. Scaling will keep the image intact and maintain the resolution while still making the image smaller. Cropping will cut a part of the image away, leaving you with only a portion of the original which will be smaller. You can do both in WordPress itself! All you need to do is upload the image into your gallery. You can scale it to the preset options or a custom size. And if you want to crop the image, you can select the “Edit Original” option in the Image menu and crop it there. Both of these options will result in a smaller but still high-quality image that loads faster.

Web optimization in other programs

You can use other programs and applications to optimize images for WordPress. Among the most popular image editing software are Photoshop, GIMP, and Lightroom. You can, however, use pretty much anything that works for you. All these programs will allow you to scale images and crop them and even change the format from a larger PNG to a smaller JPEG. But you can also tick a little box usually called “Save for web” when saving the image and save the image as web-optimized. This will contribute to making it smaller without sacrificing quality.

Compression – smaller images with no quality changes

If you like the resolution of the image and don’t want to scale or crop it but still find that it’s too large to easily upload and later load on your website, there’s still another solution. There are ways to compress images, keeping the resolution and quality intact while making them smaller and easier to load. For this, you will use third-party programs, browser tools or WP plugins.

Tape measure representing size which is why you optimize images for WordPress.
Compression helps make images smaller without sacrificing quality.

Optimize images for WordPress in order to improve SEO

Optimizing images isn’t all about making them smaller and easier to load. If you do it right, it can also help with your overall search engine optimization. It’s pretty easy to optimize images for search engines and it doesn’t take a lot of time. It can, however, make a big difference. So what have you got to lose?

Alternative text helps search engines “see” your images

Alternative text (also known as alt text and alt tag) is a text that describes the image you’re using. It serves a triple purpose:

  • in cases where an image cannot be loaded, the alt text tells your users what they would see in the image
  • programs that read the screen for the visually impaired use alt tags to describe the image to the user
  • search engine bots use alt tags to determine what is on it and how it fits into the text surrounding it

This means that alternative text can be put to use to improve your SEO. How? Well, all you need to do is use your keyword on the alt tags of one or two images throughout the text. There’s a handy field for it called “Alternative text” in WP’s image menu when you upload or try to edit an image.

Person holding their glasses out.
Alt tags help improve the experience of your visually impaired users.

Image placement affects your SEO

Another thing that’s important when optimizing images with SEO in mind is where in the text you’re putting them. Of course, you need the images to flow with the page and look good so that will play a big role in where you put them. But you should also keep in mind that the closer the images are to your keyword, the better. A useful tip here can be to use your keyword in the image caption. But don’t overdo it or it won’t look natural!

Why should you optimize images for WordPress?

Now you know how to optimize images for WordPress! But why should you even bother with all this work? The answer is simple: it’s good for your website! First of all, good image optimization helps with overall optimization which leads to higher rankings and more hits. Secondly, optimized images are faster to load and this is something that your users will certainly appreciate. So really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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