Images are an essential part of social media!
A reader will scan the image, subheadings, and bullet points to see if reading the post is a good use of the reader’s limited and valuable time. An image will draw the reader in, by giving the reader a "feel" for the post.
Use an image, which has the same message as the article. It should reflect the points discussed in the post, as well as illustrate the content.
If the outcome of the article is positive and upbeat, use a pleasant image. If you want the reader to feel the pain or challenge of the post topic, use an image showing the feelings that the reader would have if they had the same challenges or pain. Ie. You want to convey frustration at the beginning of the article, use an image illustrating frustration. Please keep in mind that positive images are more inviting. So you may want to use more positive images than negative.
Readers like to see real people in the images. A photo of you, your business or team goes much further than an iStock canned photo of a smiling business man giving a thumbs up. If the image is too staged, your reader might overlook it entirely.
Rename the image with your keyword and/or title of the post before you insert it into the post!
[Tweet ""Rename the image with your keyword and/or title of the post before you insert it into the post! You don't want the image name to be iStock4732854611." via @Mike_Gingerich"]
You don't want the image name to be iStock4732854611. Instead, you want it to be "7 Way to Optimize Your Images for Search". (The title of the post should have your keyword in it.) This will have your images, as well as your post, show up in the search engine results. Viola! 2 search engine entries instead of just one, twice the chance that someone will find your post.
If you're using WordPress, you also have an Alt-text area in the image editor. Google "sees" this alt-text and uses it for the search engine.
Titles and alt-text tags can be used in Twitter Cards and OpenGraph tags. This makes your content more searchable on social media and gives you an additional search engine entry for your post.
Captions on images are highly read. When a reader is scanning a post, the image will capture his eye, if there is a caption under the image the reader will read it and become more engaged in the image and the post.
Captions should include your keyword.
Google gives more weight to keywords in captions, titles, subheadings, bold, italics and underneath images.
Website load time is critical. If a reader waits too long for a site to load, there is a very good possibility that they will just leave the site entirely.
If your site uses lots of images, it can bog down your load time. There is a sweet spot between having images large enough that they render nicely on social media networks, your website page and don't take too long to load.
My suggestion for the largest image you should load on your site is 800px wide by 800px high, or a variation of that. Anything larger isn't needed. So don't just download your camera images directly into your website. For one, they won't be named correctly, and they usually come out 2000px x 2500px, way too big for a site. Have enough of these size images and your site will be slow to load.
You'll need to scale your image and compress it. A great tool for compressing images is Yahoo's Smush.it or PunyPNG (PunyPNG will compress png, gif, and jpeg.) Now you can add the optimized image to your article without slowing down your site.
But what if you already have a ton of images that you've never compressed? If you use WordPress, there is a Smush.it plugin you can add to your site. It will go through and compress all your existing images. It will take some time for the plugin to go through your whole site.
Optimizing image placement is especially important with mobile responsive websites. The traditional wrap text around the image has made way for large images, which look more like a header image, inserted on a single line. On a mobile device, images are resized to fit the screen they are being viewed on. If there is an image with a text wrap, the resized image may only allow a 5 character space beside it. This will make it difficult for a mobile viewer to read your post easily, so text and images on the same line are discouraged for mobile websites.
So, to summarize, the steps you need to take to optimize your images for SEO.
Have questions? Please use the comments below.