No words can indeed describe a product as a picture does. Website images significantly affect user experience, site exposure, and website content rankings. Images communicate better and have become more significant on media, ecommerce, or tourism websites over time. Almost 38% of Google's Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) use images so that users can have access to both textual and visual information.
Images are crucial for ecommerce as they help you get a comprehensive idea of a product you want to buy. According to HTTP Archive, images have made up around 64% of the weight of a website on average. Image optimization is thus necessary as it can benefit or negatively impact the consumers' experience with your website or content. You must download images so the browsers can display them to the users.
What is ecommerce image optimization?
In simple terms, image optimization means delivering high-quality product images in the right format, space, dimension, and clarity while maintaining the minimum size in the process. It is the process to reduce an image's file size without reducing its quality. Ecommerce image optimization is important for websites to run smoothly. The general methods used for the optimization are compression methods like 'lossless and lossy.' Common search engines like Google recommend compressing the images wherever possible as it helps to lessen the website downloading time, which will help your website rank higher in the SERPs.
However, compression is the only method to do so. Other methods like a descriptive image alt tag; responsive and mobile-friendly images, readable filenames with keywords, etc. are all good ways to optimize ecommerce images. The use of image caption helps to enhance the user experience on your webpage, and social sharing options help to promote the search results through social media and message applications.
Why is ecommerce image optimization important?
The first reason for the importance of image optimization is that the most popular search engines, including Google, give more importance to websites that loads fast and smoothly. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, the potential customers are more likely to move to another webpage. Image SEO helps with online image optimization so the search engines can easily read and discover your website. This ultimately leads your website to a higher ranking in the SERPs on Google.
As already mentioned, many users search for only images on Google, and the web traffic is very high on these pages. If you have an online business, you can attract users to your ecommerce site by optimizing the images of your products for search engines. Unlike humans, web page crawling spiders cannot view the images. Therefore, you must employ various tactics to improve the photos by reducing their size while keeping their superior quality to rank higher in the search engine result pages.
How do you optimize the ecommerce images?
There are several ways to optimize the images and boost your website search rankings on Google and other search engines. One way is by reducing the size, but that might reduce your image quality. Therefore, this article contains a lot of other tactics by which you can optimize your images to get the perfect results. They are:
The images' file sizes play a crucial role in enhancing the speed, and significant page load timing may harm your website's placement in search engine algorithms. You can miss potential revenue because of long website load times. According to Amazon, just a 1-second increase in loading times may lead to almost a $1.6 billion sales loss in a year. Image sizes 10 MP (megapixels) or 5.6MP (2896 x 1296) describe the size of the image you want to upload. The file size for a 5 MP image can be 1.5 megabytes (MB). The file size indicates how much space is required to keep your image on the server.
If you are uploading an image with such a large size and space, your webpage is bound to load more slowly, even though it has a high resolution and can reproduce nicely in print. You must make sure that the image loads quickly on the website and reduce the file size as much as possible for that. Don't worry too much about the quality, as scaling may not degrade it much.
As an alternative, you may provide your users with the choice to see the images in a larger pop-up window or on a different page as most shopping sites do, like Amazon, etc. this will help you keep the quality as that is essential to generate online purchases. You must avoid uploading a large file size to your website and use HTML codes to reduce its size to prevent a long loading time. Remember that a file size must not be more than 70 KB. There are two ways to compress your images:
Lossless: this compression tool somewhat reduces the file size while maintaining its quality.
Lossy: This tool reduces the file by a drastic size but also degrades the image quality. This tool comes with several levels of compression; some reduce the size and the quality, while some retain the quality while the file size is reduced.
Using text with your images
Though it is not a good idea, in general, to represent text with a picture in terms of SEO, the rationale is straightforward, and it is good for your site rankings. Google crawl robots cannot read images but can understand the text. Reading photos require more resources, and regardless of how sophisticated it becomes, you mustn't rely on Google to understand whatever it sees in the image.
The main justification for using text with images is that it can act as a differentiator that cannot be expressed visually. It will attract users to your website by delivering the information they want and is best for encouraging clicks from those whom you may end up as potential customers. You can put pricing details, assuming it could be updated by changing or dynamically producing the pictures.
You can use product details that cannot be communicated visually, like unique offers or discounts associated with the products. In the case of content pieces or blogs, the text will direct the user's attention to the topic. Do not think about the image in terms of your website's content. You must think of it in terms of picture searches it will appear in and how the picture can attract a user to your website rather than just allowing them to look at it and move on.
Image file name
File names heavily impact your website's search engine optimization and image ranking. You must use comprehensive, pertinent, and descriptive phrases that describe the image when naming the image files. This helps to provide positive SEO results. The search engine robots will be able to identify the subject of the image easily based on the file name and display it on the SERP immediately. You must choose a term you want to rank your image for a while choosing the file name.
You may use keywords at the start of the name, separated by hyphens. However, using only the keywords and giving them big file names may hurt your rating, as many other files can use the same keywords. As search engines cannot read underscores, it is better if you avoid using them. Underscores blend words instead of separating them, so use hyphens instead. You must use file names that both your users and search engines can understand. You should also avoid using articles like 'a', 'an', 'the', and other words that do not add value to the keyword.
For instance, you are selling shirts, so you must name the image 'Image001" or something like that. Instead, you can name it a 'Blue-cotton-shirt.' Or instead of just the keyword, let's say 'gowns,' and you can use 'yellow-gowns-for-wedding' and so on. While using keywords in your file name, you must keep a few things in mind. The keywords users use to find websites or textual information may not be the same as a visual one. You can search for specific keywords related to your images on Google Trends.
The image URL must follow the same rules as an image file. The URL must also have a keyword, but there shouldn't be too many of them, just one. Make sure you use a different one than the keyword you have used for the file name. You must make sure that your picture URLs have a proper structure. In case you want to expand the categorization and offer the search engines more to work with, then you must establish different sub-folders for each category of images.
For instance, a normal folder may be /images/ but a subfolder would be /images/yellow/gowns/wedding/. This way, the search engines can interpret your photos without confusion and more semantically because of the clear URLs, enabling your website to provide the users with more relevant search results.
Alt text optimization
Sometimes, the alt text is offered as a substitute when the websites cannot produce an image for a particular reason. You must want your picture alt to appear as a substitute for your image. This helps the screen readers for the blind people to explain the content or the pictures to them.
The alt text describes for the search engines to comprehend the image. You must include one keyword in it, and no more, as that might overdo it and confuse the crawling robots. The terms must be related to the particular product shown in the image. The alt text is for describing your image and not a place to stuff unnecessary keywords. Many SEO experts interpret this alt text as a meta-keyword tag, but you must remember it's not. This is only to describe your product to make it understandable to the robots.
Most users will expect their sites to be mobile-friendly at present. Many of your potential buyers use mobile to search for the products they desire, and if your site's images do not show up on a mobile phone, you will lose many customers. Also, website ranking on Google relies on the site's mobile friendliness. The CSS will help you to resize the images, but they will never be increased over 100% of their original size. You can use 'width' rather than 'max-width' in the CSS, allowing the picture to expand. But you must keep a check on your image expansion, or else they will be significant, and the quality will become blurry.
The 'height: auto' option helps to resize the height of the image so that it may keep up the proportion when the window is shrunk. If you do not use this option, your image will be squished in case the window is shrunk. If the browser window is wider than the pixels, you must use an argument or command that would instruct the browser to use a different picture. This stops a large picture from loading in a small browser window and consequently on a little device. Moreover, mobile devices are often slower, so this feature of eliminating the larger picture will save a lot of time and improve the user experience resulting in the boosting of your website's search engine ranking.
Content Delivery Network
A picture's loading time is crucial to ensure user happiness and establish authority with search engine robots. The content delivery network, or CDN, is a technique that ensures a quick distribution of images across the SERP. The CDNs help to decrease image payload and transport images quickly from the network edge and precisely deliver to any user device that demands them. They also enable your website to provide an enhanced user experience with high-speed image loading, and it will boost the website's SEO ranking.
A CDN is a global network of computers that provides files like images and videos. Its structure essentially reduces the physical distance between the server delivering the images and the user who wants them. This differentiates it from a hosting provider. The images can be sent quicker if the number of network nodes between the user and server is deducted.
The CDN focuses on the delivery and optimization of images. It functions as an application programming interface (API) to gain access to altering website images. The image CDNs consist of URLs of an image that contains the identity of the image and its specifications like file name, file size, file quality, etc. this helps to simplify various picture versions.
As opposed to an image optimization script during the build time, a CDN generates a new picture version whenever a user requests it on the search engines. Thus, they are more helpful than the scripts as they help to create tailored images for specific users. Perhaps it is not essential for textual description, but CDN helps significantly impact images or videos, especially if you target a global audience.
There is no exact file format you can follow on Google, so you must compress and use the suitable format for your images. Remember, your goal is to have images that load fast and increase your SERP rank. In case of graphics or larger images, you may use JPEG format as it offers a high-quality color and is comprehensive. It also maintains a manageable file size so that it won't be too much space on your website. You can opt for PNG if you want your image's backdrop to be transparent.
JPEG is the most used file format for ecommerce sites as it allows good-quality images while maintaining a reduced file size. You can also use JPG for multiple image files. For simplistic images with few colors, you can use GIFs. In general, you can use PNG format for images that are to be printed or to enhance the image's beauty. PNG is best to use if your image background needs to be transparent. Otherwise, JPEG works best.
You must ensure that your Content Management system (CMS) is configured to update your image sitemap in case you use one automatically. You should check whether your ecommerce platform employs an image sitemap and has your images stored. You may utilize different programs to construct an image sitemap, and if you choose this strategy, you must regularly update the sitemap for your images, or else it won't work.
There are several programs to construct sitemaps, but this strategy will need you to keep a check on the sitemap and update it regularly, as it won't undergo an automatic update. Once the sitemaps are constructed, you must submit them and if you can, then provide a link to the image sitemap within the parent sitemap. You can also add the images to an existing sitemap or create a new one.
Give importance to unique or authentic images.
Authentic or unique photographs help rank your site higher in the SERPs, unlike using pictures from Google's stock, especially those already widely used on similar websites. Just like authentic texts help to boost the SEO of a site, original pictures do that too. You might have noticed that most business or medical websites use similar pictures, a businessman or a doctor standing in front of their respective institutions. Using the picture showing your workplace makes the image unique and original and differentiates your site from similar ones.
Even though you may optimize your stock photos well, they won't have the same impact as an original photo. It is better not to use company or business logos as an image. It is not always possible to take images of each one of your products to make the image content unique, but you must try to use as many as possible so your website can stand out from the rest.
Use Lazy loading
Lazy loading is another technique for optimizing ecommerce images for your SEO. It helps you discover components that are non-blocking and only load them when necessary. It holds the images from loading until your site's user scrolls to the text. Various programs are available to help enable lazy loading, and if you are not comfortable doing it manually, you can switch to those programs.
Optimizing your ecommerce images is, no doubt, a great way to boost your website's search rankings. Unfortunately, many online businesses do not pay much attention to image optimization. They forget that many essential features depend on the website images, like the site's popularity, loading time, and rankings. Therefore, image optimization is necessary if you want your website to attract users who may be your potential customers.