How To Optimize Images on WordPress for SEO

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Ah, the power of a well-crafted image. The right picture can break up blocks of text, help explain a complex topic, and even entice readers to stay on the page longer. But simply uploading and publishing an image won’t cut it. For best SEO results, you need to optimize images.

Optimizing an image is an essential step to take when posting on your website. Images are just as important for SEO as text and need to be considered in strategy.

Read on to find out why you should optimize images and explore the best WordPress optimization plugins.

What Does It Mean To Optimize an Image?

Let’s start with the basics.

To optimize an image means reducing the size of the image while maintaining the highest quality. This also involves ensuring that it is in the right file format, with the right dimensions and resolution.

There’s a bit more involved in image optimization. Below, we’ll dive into the why and how of this important step.

Why Should You Optimize Images for WordPress?

So, why is it important to optimize your site’s images for WordPress? Optimization of your site is key to ranking higher on Google, and images are a big part of most websites. In fact, SWEOR found 75% of consumers admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on its web design and image quality.

Optimized images can increase your page’s loading speed significantly. This means Google is able to crawl your site faster which impacts SEO.

Page speed is now a direct ranking factor for Google and affects user experience. According to Google’s study, 53% of users leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Avoid long loading times by optimizing all the images on your site.

Another reason to optimize images is to give context to Googlebot when it indexes your site. Googlebot reads ALT text and file names to understand an image’s relevance to a page.

Lastly, it’s all about the user! Having high-quality images that load quickly provides a better user experience and increases conversions. Optimized images are less likely to be mistaken as ads because many ads are not optimized.

To recap, optimizing an image provides:

  • Faster page load times (since big images can hurt page load times)
  • Enhanced signals to Google (through ALT text) that can help your page rank higher
  • Better user experience

How To Optimize Images for SEO

We’ve covered the importance of image optimization. Now, it’s time to put it into practice. If you’re wondering how to optimize images for SEO, this section is for you.

Here are six strategies to implement for pristine, optimized images.

1. Resize Images

Resizing images is a necessary step to take when optimizing images for WordPress or another CMS. Remember, image size and file size are two different things.

Image size refers to the dimensions of an image (ex: 500 x 500 pixels). The file size refers to how much space it takes up on the server (ex: 50 kb).

Deciding on image size is subjective. How big do you want your image to appear on your screen? Fortunately, WordPress offers a range of image sizes to choose from once you upload your image. But keep in mind that the original file size plays a role in page speed.

Ensure the image remains high-quality if you decide to resize it.

For more on image sizes and how to decrease large files, stay tuned. Now, onto another crucial tip.

2. Pick the Best File Format

The most commonly used file formats on the web are GIF, JPEG, and PNG. They each have their benefits depending on the type of image.

For photographs, JPEG is usually the way to go. It has the smallest file size with the same quality as GIF and PNG files. Look at this comparison below to see the image quality.

file format

(source: Ahrefs)

For illustrations, screenshots, comics, logos, and images with text, PNG is a better choice for clarity.

Confused about converting images? Here’s a link to an online image converter you can use to easily switch file formats.

3. Compress Images

Compressing image files is a must when it comes to optimizing images! There are nifty WordPress plugins we will introduce soon but if you want to manually compress them, here’s how.

Compression is when you reduce a file’s data size to be more efficient. You have to be careful when compressing images because sometimes quality is sacrificed.

You can use this free online compressor to effectively compress your images for the web before uploading them to WordPress.

4. Optimize File Names

Let’s talk about optimizing file names for SEO. To rank in image search results, you need to use good file names for your images.

It’s best to use relevant and descriptive keywords as file names. Don’t keyword stuff though!

Use relevant keywords and hyphens to separate words. Don’t use underscores because Google doesn’t recognize them as separate words.

5. Use ALT Text

One often-overlooked element of image optimization is the ALT text or the alternative text. When Google crawls a page, it reads the ALT text of an image to understand the context.

If there is a problem loading your site’s images, the ALT text is what shows in place of the images.

For best results, describe the image accurately and briefly for the ALT text.

alt text

As an example, a good ALT text for this image would be “woman sitting at desk with laptop and coffee.”

ALT text also helps the visually impaired have the context of what images are being shown on the page.

6. Add Structured Data

Structured data refers to helpful information you can provide about your site and images to help Google better understand the context and purpose.

Adding structured data for SEO is always a valuable step. For images, adding structured data allows Google to display them as rich results.

To learn about how to add structured data, visit Google’s Structured Data General Guidelines.

Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins

As you can see, a lot goes into optimizing images. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to make this process run smoothly. Here are some of the best WordPress image optimization plugins to use for your website.

1. Optimole


Optimole is a cloud-based plugin that optimizes images and speeds up your site. After you download the plugin, it will automatically size and compress images along with giving them a cloud-based URL.

The basic plan (free) offers unlimited image optimizations for up to 5k visitors to your website each month.

2. Smush


Smush optimizes images without sacrificing quality! Smush has been tested as the number one WordPress image optimizer for speed and quality. One cool feature the plugin offers is “bulk smush” where you can compress 50 images at once.

With the free plan, you can optimize as many images as you want up to 5MB.

3. Imagify


Imagify is another great option for a WordPress plugin! After it’s downloaded, it will automatically optimize all images uploaded to WordPress (including thumbnails). You can also convert WebP images with Imagify.

With the free version of Imagify, you can optimize 20 MB of images each month.

4. Speedguard


Speedguard is not an image optimization tool but is a speed test you can use to see your website’s loading speed after optimizing your website’s images. It’s basically Google PageSpeed Insights on your WordPress Dashboard.

Speedguard is free and includes unlimited speed tests.

You’ve Optimized Your Images. Now Do This for SEO Success

From increasing engagement to enhancing user experience, images are an essential part of a well-performing site. Using the steps above, you can ensure your images are sending the right signals to readers and search engines.

Don’t let optimizing stop there. Read our guide to getting your website on the first page of Google for seven ways to boost your site. Happy optimizing!

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