5 Simple Steps To Optimize Images For SEO And Social Media

We all know standing out with visual content is critical but you may be overlooking the potential images can have on improving your inbound traffic through SEO.

Incorporating the simple steps outlined in this post as part of your visual marketing strategy, can help improve your web content visibility and ranking.

Although search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they can’t understand a photo like our human eyes can process the content. Instead, they use other data points or clues to understand the images being used on the web.

SEO helps search engine robots figure out what your page is about and understand how your content can be useful to users


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Adding proper structure to your content and visuals is essential to SEO. Incorporate these 5 simple steps to optimize images for SEO and social media:

5 Simple Steps To Optimize Images
For SEO And Social Media

STEP 1 – Image File Format

Images can have a huge impact on website page loading times, which play an important role in user experience and therefore impacts SEO. A one second delay in load time can increase bounce rate by 8%.

In order to optimize images for the web you need to consider both image file format and compression. The right combination can decrease your image size by 5x.

The image formats that work for most of your visual needs are JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), PNG (Portable Network Graphics format) and GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Simply put:

  • JPEG is a compressed file format which slightly reduces image quality in order to provide a smaller file size. It should be used for photos and images with lots of colour and complexity.
  • PNG file format is a higher quality image that is uncompressed and is ideal for transparent images and smaller files.
  • GIF supports animations, limiting every frame to 256 preselected colours and transparency.

STEP 2 – Reduce Image File Size

Keep your images as small as possible without compromising the quality to ensure faster load time. Consider this, first impressions form in 50 milliseconds and 60% of consumers interact with a company whose images appear on local search.

Don’t just shrink the size of your image in your code. Upload it to a photo editor like PicMonkey, or other tools such as JPEGMini or Fotosizer (allows you to re-size photos in batches) and actually lessen the pixel density of the photo.

STEP 3 – Include Descriptive Image Alt Text

Use alt tags whenever possible by adding alt=”description of the image” to your image tag in your content management system (i.e. WordPress).

That simple description improves the SEO value of your website by helping search engines understand what’s going on in your image, as well as, the topic in the surrounding text.

If for some reason a browser can’t load an image, the alt text helps users understand what the image would be. The alt text should also be keyword rich and specific.

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STEP 4 – Proper Image File Name

Before you upload an image to your site, be sure to give it a specific file name. Something that is descriptive and relevant.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Use hyphens to separate the words in the image file name
  • Keep the file name to 4 words
  • Include keywords (tip: think about what naming patterns/sequence someone would use when they search, especially if it is a product image)
  • In a post, include your primary keyword phrase as part of the header image file name (if relevant)

A well-formatted image file name for the below image could be “Bigfoot-cartoon-image-composition” which is far better than “7391.jpg”.

simple steps to optimize images for SEO and social media

Analyzing the file’s name is another way search engines determine the relevance and rank of images in the results.

STEP 5 – Native Social Media Formats

Social signals are having a greater impact on search results than ever before. For example, while searching a recent news story, you will likely see a tweet in your mobile search results. Given this, it is important to have a strong social media strategy which includes optimizing images for sharing across all your social platforms and taking SEO considerations into account.

Assuming you have determined the right social media for your target audience, it is important that your visual content be shared in formats that are native to each social platform. While some may overlap in terms of function, the audiences and their interests can be different.

In order to help ensure you are:

✔ sharing optimal image sizes by social media network and

✔ sharing visual content that will resonate with your target audience

While search engine algorithms and SEO best practices are constantly evolving, knowing the basics and how to structure your visual content can have a positive impact on your ranking.

In order to help ensure you are sharing optimal image sizes by social media network, consult this detailed cheat sheet including recommended dimensions, minimum and maximum dimensions, image scale and more.

If you follow these steps, users and search engines should have all the information they need to understand your images!

Jennifer Dalcin, Visual Content MarketerJennifer DalCin, Visual Content Marketing Manager, InnovaMap



InnovaMap – we use the science of content marketing to connect you with your target audience.

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