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Optimizing images before uploading them is something that most people seldom think of doing.  If they upload with no problem, you’re in the clear.  Right?  Not quite.

Getting your images optimized for speed and SEO is something that will become incredibly simple to you once you do it a couple times.  The payoff is also well worth it – a quick-loading website with images that bring in more viewers than you would have otherwise had.  Let’s take a look at what’s involved in getting your images nice and prepped for the web.

Optimizing for Speed

In San Antonio, TX, an internet connection with download speeds of 300 mbps can be had for as low as $64.95 per month.  Although that’s not as fast as Google’s Fiber (1000 mbps), it’s still faster than anything we’ve seen here before.

To give you an idea of how fast that connection is, let’s say you have a photo that is 10MB, and you want to load it on a page of your website.  At 300 mbps, those 10MB would load in .2667 seconds.  (There are 8 bits in a byte.)  That doesn’t sound so bad, right?  But what if that page has 10 photos that are all 10MB in size?  Now it will take 2.6667 seconds to load the just the images on that page.  And that’s on the fastest internet connection available in only 9 cities in the entire US.

Using the same photo example, what if a person with a more average internet connection is trying to load the page?  Let’s say they have only 15mbps download speed.  The 10MB image would take 5.3 seconds to load.  If the page has 10 of those images, the images alone would take 50.3 seconds to load.

No one is going to wait a full minute for your website to load. No one.

SEO Optimized Image Size - Friday Next WordPress DevelopmentIf you look at the details of the featured image for this very blog post, you’ll notice that I have exported the image at a very reasonable resolution (1600 x 1068), yet its size is only 412kB.  The original image file is 3776 x 2520, at 4.4MB.

So why and how did I compress it to its current level?  You can use whatever tool is easiest with your operating system, but I’ve long used iPhoto on Mac OSX to export my images (now “Photos” on Yosemite).  I always export photos at a width just a bit wider than what I think I’ll need, and I set the JPEG compression to 90% (sometimes only 80%).

At these settings, I end up with images that look great even on retina displays, but they don’t take up a lot of server space, and they load quickly even for viewers with slow internet connections.  It’s important to prep your images for the slowest possible connection, because if it’ll work for them, it’ll work for everyone else.

Optimizing for SEO

Optimizing your images for SEO is even easier than optimizing them for speed.  You’ll notice in my featured image details above that I set the filename to “SEO Optimized Images – Friday Next WordPress Development.jpg”.  When I uploaded the image to this website, WordPress added the hyphens between words.

To determine how to title your images, just decide what content you want your images focused on.  In my case, this article is about how to optimize your images for SEO, so I titled it accordingly.  After uploading the image with that title, I copied that title into the ‘Title’ and ‘Alt Text’ fields within the WordPress media uploader.

It’s important to have your Title and Alt Text filled out for every image on your website.  This is not only great for screen readers, it also adds to your SEO rankings.  The more keyword-focused your images are, the better your content is going to rank with Google.

It’s almost too simple, right?  As long as you name your image before uploading, then use that same title for Title and Alt text after uploading, you’re on the road to SEO domination.

Why Bother?

Why bother on such a small, insignificant task?  Every bit of optimization you add to your website adds to the overall value you offer your viewers.  Maybe optimizing your images doesn’t seem like a hugely important task to you, but when you combine that with properly optimized navigation, articles, and site structure – it all adds up to a site that ranks very well on search engines.

Little things like image optimization are just what your site needs to be considered a guru in your niche.  Happy optimizing!

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