Images on your WordPress website are essential. Whether you’re using stock photography, photos of your work, professional headshots, or simple blog graphics, your images are a vital part of the overall design.
Images help tie your design together, but they can be super effective in boosting your SEO.
This article is going to walk you through the best practices for choosing, using, and uploading images to your WordPress website while keeping page speed and search engine optimization in mind.
How to choose the right images for your website?
As a website designer, I typically choose the best images for my clients. In the beginning of working together, they’ll share a folder that has their professional headshots, lifestyle branding photos, images of their work, etc., and then I’ll choose which ones work best.
But after we launch their website, they might be adding blog posts on their own, creating social media posts, and choosing their own photos.
When choosing images for your brand and website you’ll want to keep them consistent, cohesive and polished.
When featuring your work, try to stick to the same professional photographer to keep the images consistent. While your work is the main focus, each photographer tends to have their own style and edits so you want your images to feel consistent throughout.
When using professional headshots, make sure your style is the same and consistent in all of the photos used throughout.
Choosing website images for your blog
Unless you have a large library of personal brand / styled shots, you’ll likely be using stock photography for your blog.
When using stock photography, use a vendor that has a similar look and feel to their stock photos. For instance, Haute Stock or Moyo Studio offers hundreds of photos but they all have the same modern and stylish feel.
I tend to avoid sites like 123RF, Deposit Photos, and even iStock as their images feel very cookie-cutter. Plus, it’s harder to curate a seamless look when digging through millions of photos.
Lastly, remember, when choosing stock photos, keep your brand vibe, brand strategy, and ideal client in mind.
How to optimize your images BEFORE uploading them
One of the most overlooked steps of optimizing your images for SEO takes place before you even add them to your website. After choosing which photos to use, you’ll need to rename, resize, crop, possibly convert and then optimize each file.
My favorite tool to use to knock out all of these steps quickly and efficiently is Canva. While you can certainly use Photoshop or a similar editor, this article will walk you through these steps using Canva.
Here are my recommended best practices for optimizing your photos prior to uploading them to your media library:
- Resize and/or Crop
- Check File Format
Resize and/or crop every image to the exact size you’ll use it for on your website.
Most of the images on your website will be the same dimensions. My website uses a variety of vertical and horizontal images but they’re all the same dimensions depending on where I use them. Keep things consistent and stick to these sizes.
Canva Tip: Create a design in Canva that matches the dimensions of your website images. Then you can upload your images to Canva and easily resize them within the appropriate dimensions.
I recommend images that will be used full-width (across the full website page) to be no more than 1920px wide. And images that are going to be used free-standing or half the width (or less) of your web page to be no more than 920px wide.
Use the right image file format for your website.
Your website will likely be using images in one of the two most common formats, JPEGs and PNGs. Stick to JPEGs for all of your images unless you need a transparent background.
Canva Tip: When downloading your image, choose JPEG for your file type, keep the size the appropriate dimension mentioned above, and bump the quality to 100.
I recommend using JPEGs wherever possible. Only use PNG if you need a transparent background.
Rename every image to include a search term or keyword that’s relevant to the page or post where you’ll be uploading.
For blog posts, you might rename the image to match the title of the post or the chosen keyword phrase. For pages, you might rename the image to include your name, business name, and service. For your portfolio, you might rename the image to include the project name, service provided, and geographic location.
Canva Tip: Before downloading, rename your Canva design and page title(s) using the recommendations above. When downloaded, the files will keep the same naming structure.
Compress your image to ensure the fastest load time.
The last step to take before uploading your image is to compress the image size. Essentially it decreases the size (in bytes, not dimension) without affecting the quality of the image.
You can use a website program like TinyPNG or a desktop program like ImageOptim to compress your images prior to uploading them. With ImageOptim you simply right-click the image file and click ImageOptimize and it automatically compresses the image.
I recommend compressing your images to around 200KB or less.
Once complete you’re finally ready to upload!
How to optimize your uploaded images for search engines
At this point, you’ve already done a lot to optimize your images for search engines but there are a few more steps to take. After you upload your images, you want to complete the following image attributes:
- Alternative Text
- Caption + Description (optional)
Search engines use the alternative text, or alt tag, of an image to understand the purpose of the image.
The alternative text is also used if your image cannot be displayed for whatever reason. Screen readers also rely on alternative text. When choosing your alt text, be sure to include keywords for your page/post but also image descriptors.
The image title will pull from your file name.
At this step simply double-check this is relevant to your page/post, image, and keyword.
Add a brief caption or description for your image.
In my book, these fields aren’t as important and I typically don’t complete them.
In some designs, the caption will be displayed under the image to allow for easy scanning. However, I typically don’t display image captions. The description is also optional and only used on the image’s attachment page if you choose to link the images to an attachment page… which I don’t.
Keep in mind that Google defines search engine optimization as *the process* of making your site better for search engines. It’s a process.
It’s a process and it takes time. Following the steps above to optimize your images properly for your website is just one step of that process. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
Ready for a brand + website with all the foundations in place? Reach out here and we’ll set up a time to chat.