Your product is exceptional, your content is useful and your brand mission is clear. So, why is it that your web traffic has stalled and your social media engagement is so low? There’s a good chance a lack of optimization is to blame.
Like gas to a car, optimization is the fuel that propels your content into the digital race and allows you to perform like a worthy competitor. The more optimised you are, the faster you go, but the opposite also rings true. This is why some of the most beautiful websites and social media platforms fall flat. It’s hard to gain followers when no one knows who you are.
While it can be intimidating and time-consuming, SEO is essential to online success. It’s the only way Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines will invite you to the party and introduce you to relevant readers who are looking for what you have to offer. You may think “I have used the right keywords in my blog posts, so I am good,” but you would be wrong.
Taking this approach is like driving to the supermarket and not walking into the store all the while wondering why you’re hungry. The truth is that image optimisation is a major player in a website’s success, holding a key role in everything from website loading time to Google Image search results which have daily page views of more than 1 billion.
Yet, more than two-thirds of business owners polled for this piece had no idea what an ALT tag was (note: if you are one of them, you will by the end of this column). The bottom line is this: not taking the time to choose, tag, crop and size interesting photos (that you have a legal right to share) can make your website obsolete and has lasting negative effects on your brand.
If you’re ready to refresh your website, gain more traffic and increase engagement, read on. Today, I am sharing five common SEO image mistakes and how to fix them so that you can re-enter the digital market with a stronger online presence.
1 | Mistake: You’re not choosing the correct Featured Image (or worse, you’re not setting one at all)
A featured image is the thumbnail or image used to represent your posts. Think of the photo that auto-populates when you share a piece on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and you’ll understand. In addition to the promotional role it plays on social media, it is also the first visual seen when someone comes to a specific page on your website. If this image is not optimised it can wreak havoc on your loading time (which will inevitably increase your bounce rate) and negatively impact your organic and referral traffic numbers as well as engagement.
How to fix it: When choosing your image, it should be enticing, clear and visually represent the context of the post or page. It should also be sized and cropped in a way that will ensure important elements are not cut off when posted on social media (you can find up-to-date image sizes here). Paying attention to how your posts look on social media platforms is essential as Tweets with enticing images get up to 150% more retweets and LinkedIn posts with images get 98% more engagement than those without. Facebook posts with images receive 37% more engagement.
2 | Mistake: Your images are the wrong sizes
While it is never a good idea to have a blurry image online or off, the idea that you need to have “high res” images for your website is a common misconception. In reality, high-resolution images are needed for print whereas they can seriously impact loading time online – something that will harm you in the long run when you consider that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave a webpage if it does not load within three seconds.
How to fix it: Using JPEGs instead of PNGs for web images are a good rule as JPEG resolutions are perfectly acceptable quality for digital and take up less file space. Not exceeding an image size of more than 70Kb for your blog images is another good rule of thumb. If using Photoshop, simply click the ‘save for web’ option to automatically optimise your images for web.
3 | Mistake: You’re not using ALT Tags
ALT tags (or ALT text) are image descriptions that were initially created to help the visually impaired. They are widely used to communicate the contents of a photo to search engines. If done correctly, they can help you pop up in image searches (most importantly Google’s) and you’ll gain more traffic to your website.
How to fix it: Most of the major CMS systems have an easily identifiable area for ALT Tags (on WordPress, for example, you simply click edit on an image and add Alternative Text details). It is important that your ALT tag text is clearly linked to the other content on the page (title, text, URL and other media). The key is not to stuff the area with random keywords but to write a clear, descriptive sentence about the image. Instead of: “Tomato, Vine, Tomato Sauce, Heinz Ketchup” you would put in “A red, ripe tomato on the vine similar to ones used for Heinz Ketchup used in a blog about Image SEO on BusinessLeader.com.” Finally, ALT tags should be in full sentences consisting of 125 characters or less.
4 | Mistake: Your filenames are a mess
Take a look at your media library and go over the names your image files are saved under. If you’re looking at a bunch of titles that say “Screenshot 123” or other, non-descriptive words/unrelated phrases, you’re not only going to have a frustrating time locating your images, but those searching for content on your site will too!
How to fix it: When adding images to a post or webpage, ensure your images are saved under relevant titles. Think about what I said about ALT tags and something similar (yet shorter) for your filenames. For example, images in this article should be saved under titles such as “ImprovingSEO.JPEG” or “How to improve SEO for Business Leader”. Additionally, remember what I said about content having a clear link? This applies here as well.
5 | Mistake: You don’t use hashtags on your social media images
If you’re posting fantastic content with beautifully optimised images and still not getting a boost in referral traffic or engagement, it’s time to take a look at how you’re advertising your content on your social platforms.
How to fix it: Look up relevant hashtags for the content you’re putting out there and choose between 10-15 to add to your post. Hashtags work like search bars on social platforms and many users follow specific hashtags such as #InstaFoodie and #SuccessMindset in order to gain immediate access to content that interests them.
Make sure your hashtags are relevant to your posts and work hard on your behalf. Instead of hashtagging random words, add a few of the most popular general hashtags (Example: #SuccessMindset, #Leadership) and then place some that are more specific to your content (Example: #ContentOptimization #ImageSEO). You can find trending hashtags on RiteTag, narrow them by location on Trendsmap or hire a service to help such as Later.com.
Looking for more SEO and content tips? Follow Brenda on Instagram at @BDCDigitalMedia
*Originally written for BDC’s Business Leader Column.