Is Image Optimization Really That Important to You?

designer considering image optimization for website

You bet!

If you already understand the importance of search engine optimization for your written content, why would you think your images deserve any less love? Especially on mobile devices, image optimization can make or break your SEO ranking. Here’s how to make sure you do all you can to improve your college’s website rank with optimized images:

Choose the Right Images

As obvious as that may sound, most websites rely on stock images that do not fully represent their constituents. As a college or university, you’re lucky! You probably have thousands of images that include cool classroom, campus and activity shots with lots of smiling students—actual students. That’s important if you want students just like them (or close enough to them) to check out your programs, enroll, succeed and represent your institution well as alumni.

Quality also counts. Real pictures of real students is the best start. But not if the images are blurry or out-of-context. Imagine your institution is a rolling product placement and make certain every image is something your best fan or most discerning critic would approve of.

Image Optimization Through Data

For effective image optimization, make sure your titles, labels, tags and descriptors explain the images well and include appropriate keywords. Don’t forget to contextualize the information surrounding the image. The images you use and what you call them need to make sense from the user’s (and Google’s) perspective. Make sure your page messaging and content—including the images—align with one another and with the overall messaging of the site. Don’t forget to optimize your thumbnail image if you have one. And don’t use the same alt text for the thumbnail as you do for the larger image.

Size Images Appropriately

Resize images for display and make sure you serve the image in the smallest file size possible. You need to use responsive design so images look and act appropriately regardless of the device or browser. Images that are too large and load too slowly can have a negative impact on SEO. If you use Word Press for content management, the app will likely do the work for you. But for coding, you’ll want to make sure your images have the srcset attribute which allows browsers to figure out how to serve the image correctly, regardless of the device.

Choose Placement Well

Most content management systems pull a single image through that appears as your feature image. But if your content has several images, it’s important that each image fits with its corresponding copy. Where you place it needs to make sense. A paragraph describing the lush greenery of your campus should not show students in a lab.

Check the Analytics

Even on images? If you want to rank above competitor institutions and be the answer to potential students’ queries, you want to leverage every digital advantage you can. That means checking out how your images perform in Google Analytics and noting for what keywords they rank. Images may not seem like a numbers game, but if you understand optimization, numbers derived from images can help you rank well so students find you instead of a competitor institution.

Images alone are not going to shoot a poorly performing page or a lackluster website to number one in a Google search. On the other hand, images that load too slowly or appear irrelevant to a Google search can harm your site. In the ever-evolving world of SEO and its hundreds of ranking factors, you want your institution to have every advantage possible. Don’t you?

To find out how to optimize images, video, pages and entire websites, contact the digital marketing experts at ESM Digital. We know marketing and we specialize in higher education. Can your current agency say the same?

~Linda Emma