This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Shopify SEO.
Also in this series:
- How to setup Google Search Console for Shopify
- How to update robots.txt in Shopify
- How to Add a Meta Title and Description in Shopify
- Quick guide: How to create redirects in Shopify
- 5 Ways to Improve Shopify Image Optimisation for SEO
- The Best SEO Practices for your Shopify Collection Pages
- 7 Great Shopify Product Page Tips
Image optimisation is an incredibly overlooked component in improving a page, or website, SEO. In the modern, digital shopping experience, it is absolutely crucial for businesses to ensure that the customer experience doesn’t grind to a halt. As such, most of the leading eCommerce websites will prioritise initiatives to improve page speed, allowing for a better user experience and a site that be crawled easier by search engines.
In this blog, we’ll be going through our 5 top tips to improve your Shopify image optimisation. With this, you’ll be able to improve your images in a way that’s impactful for SEO and for your user experience.
Let’s jump in!
1. Optimise your image alt attributes
For those who don’t know, image alt attributes are a big deal for web accessibility. These are the text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. You’ll notice that if you hover over an image, you will see the alt attribute text (depending on your browser settings)
They also are used to help describe an image to those who rely on accessibility tools to navigate the web, such as text-to-speech or screen readers.
Not only do they benefit your audience, but they help search engine crawlers better understand your content and thus more effectively serve it to relevant audiences. Here are some basic rules to follow to ensure you have well-optimised alt attributes:
- Describe the images in plain language
- Refrain from stuffing your alt attributes with keywords
- If you have images for products that have model numbers and/or serial numbers, include these in your alt attributes
2. Select the right image formats
There are three common file types that are used to post images. These are JPEG, GIF and PNG.
It’s important to select the right image format for a number of user-based and technical SEO reasons. The main reason is that different image formats hold the quality better at compressed sizes. The file size is incredibly important to consider when optimising a page for load speed which, as mentioned earlier, is paramount.
- For the longest time, a JPEG (or .jpg) has been the standard go-to image file type for the web. JPEG images can be compressed substantially resulting in quality images with a small file size.
- GIF (.gif) images are lower quality than JPEG and are typically used for simplistic images such as decorative images, or animation.
- PNG images continue to become a popular alternative to GIFs. PNGs support a better colour range compared to GIFs and don’t degrade over time with re-saves as JPEGs do. However, PNG file sizes tend to be larger than JPEG files.
Therefore, it is a good idea to use JPEGs for your Shopify e-Commerce pages. It’s a bad idea to use GIFs for large product images as the file sizes will be very large with no great way to reduce them.
3. Keep your image names short and relevant
We get it. It’s easy to use the generic name that gets assigned to an image from your camera, but this is an SEO sin. Consider how your customers search for products on your website – how could you incorporate this into the names of the images?
It’s best practice to name your images based on the best keywords that are relevant to your page. Better yet, consider naming them based on the search queries that are bringing the most traffic to your pages. You can use free tools, such as Google Search Console, for this!
4. Be cautious of your decorative images
Decorative images are essential to the presentation and navigation of your website but can cause issues if they are handled incorrectly. A common issue is that in an un-optimised state, they can result in large combined file sizes and slower loading times.
Here are some of our tips for reducing the size of your decorative images:
- Consider your wallpaper-style background — this could be a huge file. Shrink these as much as possible without harming the image quality.
- If feasible, use CSS to create coloured areas instead of images for your pages. CSS styling is a great way to replace decorative images.
- If you have images that make up borders or patterns, consider converting them to PNG-8 or GIFs. This will allow you to have images that look great while only being a few hundred bytes in size.
5. Use image sitemaps
This is where image sitemaps can help.
If images aren’t called out specifically in a webpage source code, search engines can’t crawl these. So by creating an image sitemap, you can list their location in here and allow crawlers to crawl and understand the purpose of these images regardless of the restrictions.
Shopify gives users the freedom to generate and customise sitemaps. Once done, it’s a great idea to include this in your robots.txt file. We have a handy blog on how you can update your robots.txt file in Shopify, here!
And there we have it! Those are our 5 top tips for Shopify image optimisation. In summary, it is critical to consider the size of your images and how your images can be discovered by both users and search engines. Image optimisation and other technical eCommerce SEO aspects can be quite tricky to wrap your head around. If you need advice or if you don’t have the capacity to work on it yourself, it’s always a good idea to consult an expert SEO Agency, or in this case more specifically a Shopify SEO agency or an eCommerce SEO Agency.