chapter 8

Optimizing Your Images for SEO and Conversion

If you make your store respond even just 1% faster, you will make your customers happier and boost your conversion rate. And for a high volume store, especially, improving loading times by just a hair can mean thousands of dollars of otherwise lost revenue. While you can optimize the performance of just about every aspect of your site, one of your heaviest hitters are your images. Optimizing your images is not only a good idea, compared to other elements on your site, it gives you the most bang for your buck.

One of the reasons Shopify favors JPG files is because their compression allows for just the right balance between quality and size. And that balance allows you to speed up your site, boost conversion, and increase consumer loyalty. According to this test from Google, every 2 second delay can drop your engagement and affect your revenue by over 4%.

Images are on just about every page of your store, and if you don’t cut the extra pixels out, they can slow down navigation and make people leave your site. So if you want to offer your customers a great experience and boost consumer lifetime value, put the extra work in optimizing your images. Let’s take look at a few simple techniques that can speed up your store.

Minifying

Minifying means to use a compression algorithm or an app like Minifier to reduce the size of an image by sacrificing a minimum of the quality. Usually, the change is hardly visible with the naked eye, and the benefits from a speeder site are many, including better conversion rates, engagement, and improved consumer trust. Lucky for you, Shopify does this automatically for its merchants, so you only have to worry about it if your store is hosted on another platform.

Naming Your Images Correctly

Your images can be a great source of organic traffic to your store if you invest the time to name them descriptively. Describe what is in the photo in the most informative and clear way you can. Think keywords. The auto generated letter-and-number names from your camera do not serve any SEO purpose. Instead, use the image name to tell Google what’s in it and what your page is about so you can boost your ranking. Also, use hyphens to separate words in the file name instead of spaces to improve its readability by algorithms.

Edit the Image Alt Text in the Shopify Dashboard

The alt text of your image is there primarily for accessibility purposes. Screen readers read this text aloud to your users who have trouble navigating the web in a conventional way, such as those with visual impairments. Moreover, if for whatever reason your image cannot be loaded, the alt text will be displayed instead.

But the alt text also has a huge role in your page’s SEO. Google uses it to understand what the image contains. Knowing this, offer information in your alt text that will attract people searching for key terms related to your product. Providing more context to your image in the form of product descriptions further helps search engines understand what is on the page and rank it accordingly. Unlike in the product title, there is no need to use hyphens in alt text.

As an example, let’s say you run a company like Dinosaurs Designs and are selling the plates in the image below, which you have called the “Foliage Homewares” plates:

Source: Dinosaur Designs

The default image title is “calum-lewis-387612”. While this is useful in identifying the photographer, it will not help you with SEO. Another title idea could be “dinosaur-designs-foliage-homeware-leaf-sculptures-and-dishes”. The alt text for the image might read, “Blue and white Foliage Homeware plates with brown and brick colored Leaf Sculptures and Dishes”.

Notice how we tried to incorporate the main keyword “Foliage Homeware” in both the title and alt text and included extra keywords (like the name of our company) and descriptive text (like leaf sculptures and dishes) wherever possible.

A/B Test Your Images

Your images can always be better, nudging your customers ever so slightly more persuasively to make a purchase. Unilever have inspired the whole of eCcommerce with their mobile-ready hero images that have improved how they convey product information, like variant and size, by pulling them from the label on a standalone vertical bar. Essentially, they improved image composition and clarity, which in turn improved the user experience, especially on mobile.

Source: Unilever

What you can learn from their extensive testing is that you can do the same. You don’t have to make radical changes across your store but rather take baby steps to optimizing each little step. Like increase the space your product takes up in the frame, tweak the shot angle, or have your discounted items with a pink background. The best way is to tweak, observe, and then tweak some more. You can use tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely to evaluate your data after each change and make better performance decisions from there.

Next chapter

9. Social Media Photography

6 min

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