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Picture perfect: why your website deserves optimized photos

FILM CANNISTER unsplash

You’ve got a website,

You’ve had it for a few years. It works just fine.

You last updated it, er, about a year ago, maybe more?

Photos are a bit old but…

Stop right there!

Your website is often the first encounter potential clients have with your business and your brand.

• What do the photos on your website tell them about your business?

• Are they on trend or showing their age?

• Are they optimized for speed?

It’s time to show your images some love with our five top tips for image optimization.

 


Big images = slow website

One of the biggest causes of a slow website is the size of the images. Images on websites need to be as small as possible without losing resolution. File size is important because Google doesn’t like showing slow sites to people browsing on mobile devices.

If your images were uploaded by us here at Akira, you’ll be just fine. We optimise them for the best quality and download speeds.

However, if you have uploaded them yourself, check how big they are. (We’re talking file size here, not physical dimensions.) Even images taken on a cell phone can be upwards of 1.5Mb (more if HD). Upload a photo that size and it could take an age to load, especially for a prospective customer on a mobile in a poor reception area.

Use online image optimising software such as https://kraken.io/ to reduce the size down, and make them more web-friendly. Or, if you’ve got lots of lovely new photos and want them integrated in your current website, talk to us here at Akira.

Remember, if your website is hosted by us and you’ve signed up to our maintenance plan, there’s a certain amount of updating work already included for free each month!

 

#1 Add new images

New images are essential to make your business look fresh, current and active. Ideally, it’s good to give your website design a refresh every two or three years, and using the opportunity to take fresh images that tie in with the overall design.

If a redesign of your website is beyond the budget, you can still change the look with new photos. If you can, do book a professional photoshoot to present your business in all its glory. If not, find some stunning royalty free stock photos. We love the free selections at:
www.pixabay.com 
www.unsplash.com 
Or look at the paid for libraries at Shutterstock and other commercial photo libraries.

Then call us here at Akira. Whether you provide your own photos, or want us to acquire stock images for your site, we can resize them, gently tweak them to make them really pop if required, and place them into your existing website.

 

#2 Retire old images from galleries

Galleries are great to show off the diversity of your products or services, but they can quickly become a graveyard of old images that are no longer relevant. Trim your galleries down to just the latest projects you’re most proud of, and only use clear, self-explanatory images.

If you can add a short description under the image, so much the better. Whilst it can identify certain features, Google can’t interpret images as humans do. So, if you show a picture of a brand new deck your landscaping company has constructed, Google is as likely to focus on the house behind as your excellent carpentry skills. If you can add “Non-slip new decking for lake house in Bayfield ON”, that’s good for both search engines and prospective customers alike. 

 

#3 New slides in your Homepage slideshow

Have you got a rolling slideshow at the top of your page? Great! Slideshows are like a shop window display, so you do need to change them on a regular basis to keep the website looking fresh.

For maximum benefit, make sure each slide links to a page on your website about your service, product or latest special offer. Again, as with all photos, slides in a slideshow need to to be optimised for smaller file size, and in the correct proportions to look really good. (Guess who can help you with that!)

 

#4 Image Alt text

Every image you put on a website can have alt text (aka "alt attributes", “alt descriptions", or "alt tags”). This is a short bit of text that describes the image. And this is where the problems start. In the past, people would stuff the alt tags with keywords relating to the website, not the image. However, accessibility regulations say that the alt tag needed to describe the image in detail for any visually impaired users, as their screen readers would read this to them.

Search engine experts Moz suggest a happy medium:

“The best format for alt text is sufficiently descriptive but doesn't contain any spammy attempts at keyword stuffing. If you can close your eyes, have someone read the alt text to you, and imagine a reasonably accurate version of the image, you're on the right track…. Keep it (relatively) short. The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters.”

If your image is used as ‘decoration’ or is purely illustrative, you don’t have to provide alt text. However, there’s a sneaky SEO trick if you do, which is to slip in a keyword at the end. For example:

“Two hands with wedding rings, tightly clasped together. Represents our marriage counselling service in London ON.”

For more info on alt text, and why the longdesc="" tag is good for more detailed explanation of images, see https://moz.com/learn/seo/alt-text 

 

#5 Videos (moving pictures!)

Customers love videos, and a short video is a great way to show customers how to use your products and services. Your videos can ‘live’ on your website or be hosted elsewhere such as YouTube. There’s a lot of advantages to this for SEO, as YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.

What’s more, if you use links to videos at YouTube that then play via your website, this avoids your customers having to load the whole video each time to watch it. Just make each video short and sweet: 2 mins is a good time to aim for, as this also makes your videos good for social media.

 

Help with image resolutions, dpi, 4:3 or 16:9 ratios, etc

If the title of this para has lost you already, call us. This is image-based jargon and we know what it means!

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