Image Optimization Tips for E-Commerce
When your storefront is virtual you make your first impression with the customer in the initial few seconds that your page loads on the screen. Quick web page load times are crucial. To prevent an unprofessional appearance and to keep traffic on your site, your site should load in only a few seconds, even on the slowest connection. Images, because they are data-heavy files, are often to blame for slow loading. Consider these image optimization tips to speed up page loading and improve your search ranking while you’re at it.
1) Choose the Right Name for Your Image
Search engine web crawlers look at all the text visible on your site, but also at invisible text such as image names and labels. Make sure you choose names that are descriptive and specific so they’ll reach the right audience in an image search. Accurate names also boost your search engine ranking overall, so this easy tweak is worth the time investment.
2) Use ALT Tags Wisely
ALT tags are the descriptors that show up when a browser fails to load an image. They also appear when you hover your mouse over an image. These tags should be present for all content-based images, such as product photos, but aren’t necessary for decorative images, like background elements. Make sure you use plain language (not just a string of keywords) to describe images and include model numbers in product photo ALT tags.
3) From Every Angle
Consumers like to see multiple shots of products before purchase to get a better sense of the product dimensions. Make sure that your ALT tags for each of these images are specific to the image, for example giving descriptors like “rear view” or “interior lining”. If you have extra large images (usually used for zoom features), set them up to open in a separate window or pop-up so they won’t slow down the load time on your main page.
4) Keep it Small, Sweetie
Image optimization for the web involves finding the right balance between quality and file size (and therefore load time). Plenty of graphic software programs include algorithms to optimize images for the web. If you can’t afford professional photo software, free applications perform the same function.
5) File Format Fun
Image files come in many formats, but some are better for e-commerce applications than others. Here’s a rundown.
Jpeg – Considered the best e-commerce format because it offers the best quality at the smallest size.
PNG – This is the second best choice for product page images. The quality isn’t as good as Jpeg, but this won’t be noticeable with small images.
GIF – This format generally produces files that are too large to load quickly and efficiently. It’s not recommended for e-commerce.
Keep thumbnail images to a minimum, if possible. They slow down page loading like any other image, and too many can clutter the page design. When you do use them, smart image optimization SEO requires you to use different ALT tags for each thumbnail and its equivalent larger version.
7) Use Google Sitemap
Google Sitemap optimizes images and helps search engines categorize your images. Google Sitemap also has extensions that further optimize your images for better search rankings.
8) Keep Decorative Images in Check
Any non-product related image is considered decorative. These include buttons, borders and background images. While they add design appeal, they can also slow down your page. Use these image optimization tips for all decorative images:
- Optimize them for the web to reduce their file size, just as you would for product images
- Take advantage of CSS styling for your design elements to reduce your reliance on decorative images
- Avoid large background images