SEO Tips & Resources

Image Optimization: Perfecting Your eCommerce SEO Strategy

A picture paints a thousand words. It goes without saying that images are essential to the success of an eCommerce website. They are the only way that your customers get to experience the products that you sell.

Creating the perfect product photos is only part of the process when presenting perfect images. Yes, it’s important but image optimization is equally critical for the success of your online store. Data-heavy image files can slow your page speed, causing many users to abandon your page before they have even begun, increasing your bounce rate.

In this complete guide on how to optimize images for search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll learn how to take full advantage of using images to maximize your sales potential. It’s one of the key factors if you want to increase traffic for Shopify or any other type of eCommerce store. 

Why Do You Need To Optimize Images in Your Online Store?

We’ve all experienced it. You click on a link to a webpage and watch with frustration as the images slowly creep into view. For many internet users, especially those with a slow connection, this is simply too much. They leave the page immediately. 

Most of the data used to display a webpage is usually reserved for images. When a user clicks on that page, every byte of data takes time to load. By reducing the file size of an image, it will load faster, thereby improving the user experience. Your SEO Page Score is also influenced by its loading speed. Pages that load faster are more likely to rank higher on Google. 

There are other image optimization techniques that can improve your SEO. The image URL, name and ALT attributes all play a role in making the most of your images to improve SEO for your eCommerce store

How To Optimize Images for a Shopify Store

Image optimization for Shopify is quite a bit easier than with many other eCommerce platforms. Shopify does a lot of the work for you. However, the tips I’ll be providing will help anyone with an online store, regardless of which platform you use. 

1.  Create an Search Engine-Optimized URL

The filename for your image ultimately becomes the URL by which it is stored on your server. When a search engine bot scans your site, image URLs contribute to your SEO ranking. 

 Instead of using the default image name created by your camera, which is a meaningless string of letters and numbers, give your image a definitive name. Using keywords to name your product image improves your SEO Page Score. 

Do some keyword research to find the most appropriate name for a particular image. Check what keywords your customers are using to search for that product. Google Analytics can give you a good idea of top keywords. 

2.  Alt Text Keywords

When you hover over an image, you should see text that tells you a little more about the image. This text is also displayed when an image fails to display on the page. This information is stored as Alt Text in your image file.

Your Alt Text for an image is probably the most important part of image optimization for SEO. Just like your Image URL, use the best keywords for your Alt text attributes. Make it descriptive but also short and simple. 

3.  Compress Image Files

We’ve already established that image files impede page loading speed. So, how do you prevent image file size from making your page lazy?

The answer is quite simple, reduce the number of kilobytes for all your image files. Shopify utilizes WebP. This means that your thumbnails are automatically optimized. However, you should try to keep all your image files to around 100 KB or less. 

You can achieve this by creating smaller images. Though, regardless of the size of your images, File compression is the best way to minimize the amount of data used for an image. Good graphics compression tools will reduce the file size whilst maintaining the image quality. 

4.  Use the Best Image Format

You want to use a file type, or image format, that will provide the best quality for the least amount of data. There are many file types that can be used to store image files. The most popular web format for image files has always been JPEG., though PNG. and GIF files are also popular for some applications.

  • JPEG images are preferred because they offer the best image quality with the most colors. Generally, JPEG files offer the highest quality when compressed. The downside is that data is lost when resaving, causing the image to deteriorate.
  • GIF files don’t use a lot of kilobytes which is good for reducing their overall size. However, picture rendering is inferior and GIF images don’t support many colors. This is a good format for simple images, like CAD-generated graphics with only a few colors.
  • PNG offers more colors than GIF but not quite the same quality as JPEG. Some image quality may be lost when compressing PNG files, but they use less data. In this regard, PNG 24 is better than PNG 8.

5.  Create Image Sitemaps

Using cool features like image pop-ups and JavaScript galleries are great ways to create a more dynamic page experience. However, this means that your images won’t get noticed by search engine bots when ranking them for SEO. 

If your images are not called out by the webpage source code, you need to create an image sitemap in order for them to be recognized by site crawlers. Creating a sitemap_location.xml URL in your robots.txt file will direct search engine crawlers to your images and get them noticed. 

6.  Test Your Images

When it comes down to it, your images are there to enhance the customer experience and improve sales. The only sure way of knowing how successful your images are performing is to test them. You can achieve this by analyzing conversion rates and gathering information from your customers about their preferences. 

  • How many product images should you have? Reducing the number of images on your page will improve page loading speed. This will improve your SEO score. Though, you may find that more images improve your sales. You want to aim for that sweet spot, balancing page speed with what your users prefer. By observing how your sales perform in relation to the number of images you display, you can determine how many images will result in the most conversions.
  • Which angles work best for product images? By obtaining feedback from your customers, you can ascertain which angle shots they prefer to see.
  • How many product listings should you have on category pages? By testing the various options for product listings for each category page, you will know what works best for your customers. Try 10 for a while, then 20, fifty, or 100. Check the results and settle on the amount that converts into the most sales.

The Best Tools for Shopify Image Optimization

You can optimize your images manually if have the skills to do so. However, most small business owners don’t want to waste time on these pesky details. You really don’t need to bother spending hours optimizing your images for Shopify (or any eCommerce store) when there are wonderful apps that will do it for you.

The best image optimization apps will compress your images, optimize them for SEO and create sitemaps. They can also perform additional useful SEO tasks, like creating Meta tags and scanning for errors. 

There are plenty of options for tools that will optimize your images for search engines. You may find it difficult to decide which is the best. Here are my suggestions for great Shopify image optimization apps. 

TinyIMG SEO & Image Optimizer seems to be the most highly rated, with a 5-star average customer review. If you don’t need to optimize many images, or only want to see if it works for you, they have a pay-as-you-go option (3c per image). They also offer monthly or 24-month subscriptions that will be cheaper if you intend to optimize thousands of images. 

Another great subscription image optimization tool is Image Optimizer, which also received a 5-star customer review. They offer a free (50 image) free trial which is great if you’re uncertain if it is the right image optimization tool for you. 

If you’re looking for a free image optimization app for Shopify, AVADA SEO Image Optimizer will allow you to optimize 50 images per month without paying any fees. You can upgrade to the Pro Version ($29 per month) and receive unlimited image optimizations, along with several additional benefits.

Conclusion

There are a few key factors that we can draw from this discussion. An important consideration if you want to maximize your SEO for Shopify is to limit the file size of your images. You can achieve this by compressing them. 

Search engines will increase your Page Score if your images have good keywords in the file name and Alt Text. Creating an image sitemap is important if your images are not called by the webpage source code. 

Using image optimization software will simplify things and save you a lot of time. Finally, test your images to see if they are maximizing sales conversions. 

 

Eva Man

Eva has a great passion for SEO, online business, digital marketing and ecommerce. As a market director in a growing toy company, she helps to set up the marketing strategies and starts seeing tangible ROI.

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