“A picture speaks a thousand words.” The phrase dates back to the age when the concept of a camera was launched. And it still holds the same authenticity like it used to have all those years back. A good picture always captures a viewer’s eyes. And the concept remains same everywhere. Online businesses, today put a lot of emphasis on how well the images on the e-commerce sites are produced and placed.
When you run an online store, optimizing images is almost an art that you would surely want to master. And believe it or not, product photos can actually convince a shopper to take the next step in the buying process. Offering beautifully shot and highly detailed photos of your products – can get your site much closer to getting a click of that “add to cart” button.
Take this picture for example:
East is an agency for creative artists, based in London and New York. The site is committed to carefully curating to include a broad spectrum of talent in photography, moving image, set design, and styling. Artists who truly embody their creative output, both commercially and in their personal projects.
There is nothing new about the product here, but the images are beautifully captured, highly detailed and beautifully placed. That is what matters. E-commerce product photography must convey the value and functionality of an item which will inspire shoppers to buy. So, whenever possible, product images should also be lean and fast loading. That helps the SEO ranking factor too. Because no one wants to wait around for images or sites to load.
And how exactly you can do that? Here’s a lowdown to 6 important steps of optimizing images:
Which Image File Types To Choose
There are three main file types to be focussed on, for saving images optimized for the web: GIF, JPG, and PNG.
JPGs (also known as JPEGs) are perfect for photographs, or complex images containing lots of colors, shadows, gradients, or complex patterns. JPGs can also be saved in high quality, low quality or anywhere in between. And are commonly used for product images, photographs, and homepage hero banners/images.
While the image size is smaller, this won’t be a good option for complex images and photographs. But, most importantly, PNGs can handle transparency. This works well for logos because logos require transparency.
GIFs are still an option for small image sizes where only a few colors are needed. Much like PNG-8, GIF files are restricted to only 256 colors. And which is why GIFs should never be used for product photos. Though they can be used for logos.
How To Save Images Properly
While saving the images, your first and foremost concern should be – using right dimensions. If you are working with Photoshop, view it at 100 percent to get a view how it will look on a computer monitor. You can do this by trying the “save for web” option. In Photoshop CC 2015 the option can be found under File > Export > Save for Web; in previous versions the option is located in File > Save for Web.
(Image Source: A Better Lemonade Stand )
From the menu, you can adjust the resulting image size, compression, and format. You’ll also be given an approximate loading time and file size. Alternatively, there are plenty of free online tools designed to compress your photos. The Kraken Image Optimizer and TinyPNG tools shrink your images to an accepted small size while preserving quality.
Here are some others you can try:
- JPEG Reducer
- JPEG Optimizer
- Online Image Optimizer
- Shrink Pictures
- Compress Now
- Image Optimizer
- Compress JPEG
Reducing Image File Size
The next important part is reducing the size of the image file. And it is absolutely possible without actually reducing the quality. A quality of 60 works best because it minimizes the file size down to under a megabyte with no noticeable difference in quality. Shoppers want their product photos – large, highly detailed, and able to be zoomed in on.
And there are various applications and websites around to offer web-ready compression for your photos while preserving their quality. Even the highest resolution photos will stand out and load quickly when saved in a web-ready format. The “Save for Web” function in Photoshop is a great way to reduce file size.
Compressing the images for use on the internet is also important. The smaller your image file sizes will be, the faster they will be loading for customers visiting your e-commerce site. Start by finding out what the maximum target pixel dimensions you’re trying to fill are. Finally, consider the internal contents of your image – follow the sensible cropping tips and make sure your product is nicely centered and appropriately filling the frame. Here is an example:
Though the product description doesn’t actually add any SEO value to your images, but they can be useful, still. These can be described as – how the picture was taken, when, and any other interesting elements. The Caption will show up underneath the image on the live article. However, bounce rates are taken into account. But how does that relate to this?
If someone searches for a term, clicks on your page and bounces back to the search page quickly, this is used as a factor for rankings. People would go back to search engines mainly because the content didn’t satisfy them. And that’s where image captions come in. Next to your headline, image captions are important because they are one of the most well-read pieces of content on your entire site. So, if you fail to use them, you’re losing out on one more chance to lower your bounce rate.
Setting Alt Texts
Alt tags are important because they add SEO value that will help you achieve better rankings in the search engines when used appropriately. These are technically a text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. Much like an example like this:
<img src=“jonsnow-tee-blue.jpg” alt=“jonsnow tee blue”> But don’t give your alt tags and images names which might trigger a spam alert, either. For example, ‘jonsnow-tee-blue-on-sale-buy-now.jpg” and giving it the same matching alt tag.
Naming your files is the first step in optimizing your images. By being specific, you’ll help Google understand what’s on your site which will help you rank better. Alt attributes, or tags – represent information about a picture displayed in the event that the image is not loaded successfully. And therefore, Google considers this as an important ranking factor. It is recommended you use at least 125 characters for the alt tag. It is not necessary to use keywords in the alt tag, although you can.
Adding thumbnails would be amazing but you have to be careful about one thing. They can ALSO silently kill your page loading times. They are generally added in critical steps during the whole shopping process. And if they are obstructing your category pages from loading – you might also lose another customer. So the sizes of thumbnail files should be as small as possible. Because , lastly, the cumulative effect of your thumbnails will have a huge effect on your page loading time.
Also, try keeping variations in your alt tag text to not duplicate text that you would use for the bigger versions. The last thing you want is the thumbnail being indexed instead of the large image. A case could be made to leave out the alt text entirely. Thumbnails are great to use in search results, both in Google and inside your own eCommerce store. Search result pages with thumbnail pictures usually, receive more clicks and traffic. And that is simply because they stand out from various other text-limited results.
Adding Image Sitemaps
Google has many guidelines for image publishing to help your website rank high on the search engine. Additionally, you can also use the extension for images on Google Sitemaps to give Google more information about the images on your website. This can help Google find more images than what would be conventionally found through their search engine. Although using Sitemaps doesn’t guarantee that your images will get indexed by Google, you can absolutely increase the optimization of your website, and especially the images by using Sitemaps.