Google recently released a video outlining some handy tips to help web developers and digital marketers make the most of their visual assets. Images can be an incredibly powerful tool for a website. In fact, when asked what visual elements they value on a company website, 40 percent of respondents stated images, topping both colour and video.
As much as images can add to a website, they can also detract from the user experience. Images that are not optimised correctly can seriously hinder website speed, increasing bounce rate and decreasing overall traffic. None of that is good news for your website!
Teams that provide SEO services in Melbourne will tell you that correctly optimising your images is crucial to your search engine optimisation performance. So, without further ado, here are a few tips and tricks directly from the search engine themselves for how to best utilise images and graphic elements on your website.
Images come in a variety of formats, all designed for different purposes. Choosing the correct file format for web development is the first step in ensuring your images add to the user experience rather than take away.
The three factors you should consider when choosing a file format are appearance, performance, and scalability. Appearance is self-explanatory — some file formats support images that are crisper and sharper than others. Performance refers to how the file format impacts the functionality of your site. Some formats take up greater bandwidth than others, which is something to keep in mind. Finally, the term scalability describes the degree to which images can be made larger or smaller without affecting the appearance.
When we’re talking about ‘images’ on a website, we’re primarily referring to photographs (as opposed to illustrations or graphics, neither of which tend to invoke problems from a user experience perspective.) Photographs are known as raster graphics — two dimensional images that are made up of square pixels. JPEG, PNG, and GIF are amongst the most widely used raster file formats.
Which file format you choose depends on a number of different factors. Ultimately, you are aiming to find the balance between providing high-quality images and a seamless user experience. Generally speaking, most web developers prefer to work with JPEG files. However, your website may have unique requirements from a visual and usability perspective. The best way to confirm this is by speaking with an SEO company in Australia.
Image compression refers to the practice of minimising the size of a file without overly affecting the image quality. Achieving this is another fine line that must be walked by web designers and developers. When done correctly, image compression can help improve website speed.
Compression can be divided into two categories: lossy and lossless. Lossy compression is that which favours size over quality; you may notice some image degradation but the file size will be a lot smaller. Lossless compression, on the other hand, will preserve the detail of the original image, choosing to strip other types of data to reduce file size.
It goes without saying that lossless compression should be utilised where possible, but this will depend on the type of file format you are working with and what tools you have at your disposal.
Caching allows a computer to perform tasks quicker. It refers to the process of storing copies of files in a temporary location so they can be accessed in a more efficient manner.
When you arrive at a new website, your browser downloads a significant amount of data to display content and assets, including images. This initial download can take some time — usually no longer than a few seconds but every moment counts when trying to convince visitors to stick around on your website.
By enabling browser caching, this download process only needs to take place the first time someone visits your website. From there on out (for as long as you dictate a cache should last), the browser can access the files temporarily stored in its system. Images, which traditionally take a prolonged period of time to load, will appear instantly the next time the user visits your site.
These three strategies are all practically mandatory from an SEO perspective. However, there are plenty of other lesser tactics you can use to help ensure images are crystal clear and don’t impede the overall user experience. Google wants website owners to succeed and are constantly providing tips and tricks to help improve search engine results. By partnering with a team that provides professional SEO services in Melbourne, you can have confidence that they’re making the most of Google’s resources to ensure increased visibility and an optimised user experience. Speak to an SEO company in Australia today to get the ball rolling.