How to Optimize Images for SEO and Boost Your Website
Think about a website that captures your attention and resonates meaningfully — A site you love. One that has that something special, something you can’t quite put a finger on.
Got one in mind? Great!
Is it entirely text-based? Or does it include impactful images?
There are images. Right?
We, humans, are multi-sense beings. For those with sight, our eyes linger over the visual form. Pictures matter.
On websites, images are content just like words; they deepen understanding and enjoyment. But when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), images play a more significant role than you might expect.
Rather than thinking about images as an afterthought — a simple way to “pretty up” your pages — think about the images you choose strategically. This will enhance your branding, the aesthetic and feel of your site, positively influence how visitors perceive your practice, and help you connect with and educate your current and potential clients.
Nailing this step will also move the SEO needle in the right direction. Let’s see how.
Two birds, one stone: The importance of images for SEO and visitor experience
A site’s images are more than just aesthetically pleasing elements that break up the text. They play a vital role in both visitor experience and SEO.
From a visitor experience perspective, strategically chosen high-quality images enhance your website’s visual appeal, capture attention, and convey emotions. The right pictures foster a feeling of belonging and promote the perception that you are an expert in your field. Together, this enhances the visitor experience and increases engagement.
A happy, engaged visitor stays around longer, increasing website visit time. They’re more likely to view different pages on your site, reducing your bounce rates. They’re also more likely to share helpful pages, providing the natural backlinks the search engines love. In short, great images make your site a lovelier place to hang out and rave about!
From an SEO perspective, increased visit times and lower bounce rates tell search engines — like Google and Bing — that your site is reputable and valuable. That your digital home offers answers to searchers’ questions. This approval tick gives the engines the confidence to rank your site higher. Because they know sending traffic to your site will likely keep their customers — their searchers — contented.
As you can see, visitor experience and SEO go hand in hand. But there is more to this story. You can step up your use of images in precise ways to improve “searchability” and search engine attention.
Alt text: What is it, and how can you use it to improve your image-related SEO?
Alt text, or alternative text, is descriptive text associated with an image on your website; it describes a picture in words. Alt text is essential for a variety of reasons.
- The alt text is displayed when a picture cannot be shown. This ensures visitors can access image-related information, even when the image isn’t available.
- Alt text can be read aloud by screen readers to provide information for visually impaired visitors. As we said in our article, Top Website Design Trends for Private Practices in 2023, prioritizing accessibility for visitors with disabilities is the right thing to do and makes business sense.
- Bots index alternative text to help the search engine better understand the content of your page. Using alt text is good SEO practice.
- Sometimes, clickable images are included at the top of the results page. When high-quality, unique, and valuable, your pictures can themselves get listed!
To write helpful alt text:
- Describe your image as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see it
- Be succinct
- Include a relevant keyword (never keyword stuff!)
Need help creating impactful alternative text?
Check out HubSpot’s Alt Text guide.
SEO supercharge: Unlock the power of impactful image file names and descriptions
As with most things SEO, there are additional layers. Small extra steps that make a difference and ones that your competitors likely will not take. Image file names and descriptions fall into this category.
When you save your images, give each one a descriptive file name. Instead of the generic option designated by your computer or phone, like “image001.jpg.”
For example, if an image represents a CBT therapy session treating depression, the name “CBT therapy session for depression.jpg” would be more accurate and useful. This way, search engines can understand the image’s content based on its file name.
Similarly, when you upload your images, use the image description field. Write a concise yet informative image description, incorporating relevant keywords naturally. Yes, it might feel like double handling. But each small step builds a more detailed picture of what your site — including its images — is all about. This enhances your website’s rankings and visibility.
Remember: As your competitors will likely overlook image optimization, making the extra effort can give you an SEO advantage.
Picture perfect: The art of selecting high-quality images for your private practice website
You know when you come across an image faux pas. You can feel it in your bones…
The quality could be better. The image doesn’t add to the story. Or it smacks of (screams) stock image! Each of these mistakes detracts from the magnetism of your site. Visitors can smell inauthenticity a mile away. We all can.
So, when it comes to your private practice website, you should choose well; carefully pick images that represent you and your brand.
Here are our top 7 tips.
Select high-quality images
People judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a website by its images. And they decide fast. If you don’t capture their attention and confidence quickly, you’ll (likely) lose them for good. With this in mind, blurry, pixelated, or subpar images are a no-no as they produce a negative impression. Always opt for excellent image quality and crisp resolution.
Optimize your images for speedy load times
Large images slow down a site’s performance. But they don’t have to. You can optimize the file size of your images without compromising quality. This ensures faster load times and smooth browsing experiences, which is vital for SEO.
Once installed on your site, WordPress plugins like Smush and ShortPixel automatically resize and optimize the images you upload. Alternatively, manually run your images through a platform like TinyPNG before uploading them to your site.
Use images unique to your practice
Take quality, original images related to your practice. Share photos of your therapy rooms, team members, and local landscapes. This creates a personalized touch that reflects the uniqueness of your practice. This is wonderful for branding and fosters a sense of authenticity and trust among your visitors, especially if you run a physical practice.
Create concept-explaining visuals
The best option is to create unique images that add authority to a page and site. Yes, this takes time and effort. But this step will keep your visitors engaged, deepen rapport, distinguish yours from other websites, make your content more shareable, and may rank your images in search engine results.
Instead of throwing an image at the page solely to break up the text, think about explaining a concept, insight, or research visually. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth one thousand words.”
Identify the core concepts you want to communicate. Simplify each concept into one idea and decide how to represent it visually. Choose the correct format: infographic, table, image, or illustration. Interactive elements can raise the bar. Turn each concept into an informative, engaging image.
Big brands like Coca-Cola, Amazon, and McDonald’s don’t stray from their branding message. Neither should you. So, ensure you maintain visual consistency: uniform colors, font styles, sizing, and visual styles help to present a cohesive, professional appearance.
Remember to add alternative text. This will ensure accessibility and improve your SEO. Be concise and sufficiently descriptive.
While it might sound overwhelming, producing unique visuals is doable. A site like Canva lets you create professional images based on templates. They have free and affordable paid plans. You can also outsource image creation to freelancers on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. There are also royalty-free, free image sites. (I’ll share two useful options shortly, with a proviso)
Embrace diversity and inclusivity
When people feel represented, they feel seen and cared for. Hold this idea in your mind when choosing and creating images for your website.
Show people of various ages, abilities, backgrounds, and ethnicities. An inclusive approach helps visitors feel welcomed, enhancing the overall visitor experience and the likelihood they’ll return to your site.
An estimated 55% of traffic now comes from mobile devices. Choosing images that display well on both desktop and mobile screens is crucial. Test how your images appear on different devices to ensure they are appropriately sized and optimized for those visiting your site from a mobile device.
I’ve left this option until last because most people can sniff a stock image from a mile away. They can reek of inauthenticity and may turn people off. That said, if you choose images carefully and, in particular, use them to create original, branded visuals that improve the written content on your site, they can work well.
Ignite your website with captivating images
Spark your website into life with captivating images. Images that don’t just take up space but that say something: simplify a concept, educate, inspire, build rapport, get shared, and may trigger a viral explosion — potentially resulting in increased visibility, brand exposure, and backlinks to your website, which each improve SEO and reach.
You can light your site on fire when you include well-thought-out image alternative text, file names, and descriptions and use high-quality images.
The strong visual impact can leave a lasting impression on your visitors. When done well, images showcase your private practice and connect with clients on a deeper level. They boost your SEO in the process. That’s two birds with one powerful digital stone!
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