Have you ever visited a website only to quickly exit because the website is taking longer than 5 seconds to load? Talk about #firstworldproblems. It’s no surprise that in this day and age we expect our websites to be able to display correctly across all of our devices and fast. And for website owners, businesses, and entrepreneurs they understand that their website needs to offer a compelling user experience, be visually appealing and keep users engaged . It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is or how out of this world the product or services you’re offering are, if users aren’t staying on your website long enough to see it, you may as well not have a website.
One way that digital marketers are able to achieve a website that loads wicked quick, is by ensuring that all images throughout the website are optimized. Optimized images are an often overlooked aspect of digital marketing, but are proving to be one of the most critical parts of a successful digital marketing strategy. Read on to find out what a web optimized image is and why they are so vital to digital marketing, along with why progressive images are the preferred method and tools that you can use to optimize your own images.
What Is An Optimized Image?
At its core, an optimized image is essentially when you take the file size of an image and resize it and/or compress it so that it is a “smaller” size. In other words, when you’re optimizing a photo you are reducing the file size as much as you can without corrupting the quality of the photo. From an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, an optimized image may also include alternative text and title attributes that describes the image which will help it rank higher on Google Search. JPEG images are the most commonly used file types since their file size can be decreased to a much smaller size than a PNG file.
What Are Progressive Optimized Images?
While an optimized image will allow your website load speed to coast at an optimal level, the preferred method for making an image lucrative to your website is saving your image as “progressive”. This method is preferred since it allows for the image to be visible at a low quality before it is completely downloaded. In this way, users will be able to get a “preview” of the image faster than they would for an image that is not saved as progressive.
Why Are Optimized Images So Important For Digital Marketing?
Obviously, one of the main reasons that optimized images are so important to digital marketing is that they ensure your website’s load speed stays down. Furthermore, image search represents 27% of all queries across the top-ten web search properties in the United States, according to Moz and according to HTTP Archive images make up 21% of a website’s total weight. With over a fourth of searches being for images alone and almost a fourth of a website’s value weighting on images, digital marketers must find ways to make sure their images are found first. How do we do this? You guessed it, by optimizing our images. An optimized image that is progressive, high-quality and includes SEO optimization such as title and alt attributes is more likely to get your page or image found than one that is not optimized. Furthermore an SEO optimized image will increase your SEO ranking, thus increasing user engagement and aiding in website conversions. So in a nutshell, optimized images are critical to digital marketing because they:
- Enhance Web Site Load Speed
- Increase SEO Rank
- Boost User Engagement
- Improve Conversions
Tools You Can Use To Optimize Your Images for Digital Marketing
As you can see, when it comes to images for digital marketing there is more than meets the eye. And while the process of optimizing images may look complex or tedious at first, there are more than a handful of “tools” that you can access that will make optimizing your images a breeze. Whether you’re a digital marketer, business owner, or entrepreneur looking to optimize your images you’ll need to use a tool that is user friendly and within your budget. The tools listed below include some of the best free and paid software, tools and plugins for image optimization:
- Adobe Photoshop – Photoshop may be one of the more expensive optimization tools for images, but for good reason. As described by Adobe, Photoshop allows for editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more. This image editing software may take some time to learn if you have no experience with photo editing, but once you have the hang of it, you can do almost anything with your images.
- JPEG Optimizer – If you only need to compress your images, JPEG Optimizer is a free tool that can be utilized to compress images between 0-99. The default setting is 65, which is an optimal file size for larger images.
- Kraken – Kraken gives users the choice of two compression modes, Lossless and Lossy (photographers and professionals should choose lossless). Kraken will optimize JPEG, PNG, and GIF files that are 1MB and smaller for free. To optimize larger files, you will need to purchase their Pro package which starts at $5 a month.
- reSmush.it – Is considered to be the best WordPress plugin for image compression. It uses the reSmush API to optimize images that you upload and even offers an option to optimize older images in bulk. There is currently only one size of compression, which could be considered a drawback for some larger images.
Many optimization tools work in much the same way, with some providing more “bells and whistles” than their competitors. Play around with any of the above tools and plugins for web image optimization (even paid tools offer free trials) and see which will work best for what you need.