Shopify Image SEO: The 10-Step Picture-Perfect Guide To Optimizing Your Images & Increasing Your CVR
The highest e-commerce conversion rates (CVRs) occur on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds (Portent).
And, according to Google, 2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.
So, if your Shopify store is loading slower than this, your rankings will drop, your bounce rate will increase, and you will lose hundreds of sales.
One of the main reasons for higher page load times could be that your images aren't optimized.
Today, we'll discuss what image optimization is and why you need it. Then, we’ll give you 10 easy-to-follow best practices for optimizing your images. We'll also share some tools to help you get started.
So whether you're a beginner or an expert, read on for all you need to know about Shopify image optimization in 2023.
- What is image SEO and why is it important?
- How to optimize your images for better search engine visibility: The top 10 best practices to follow
- How to optimize your images with ReRank?
What is image SEO and why is it important?
Image SEO is the process of optimizing your images for Google and other search engines. It is also the process of making your images look great on all devices, regardless of their type or screen size.
It’s paramount that your images are SEO-friendly. Here are the top 7 reasons why:
- Image SEO is a key component of on-page SEO. As such, it has a direct impact on your ranking.
- It also affects your store’s page speed and page experience, which affect not only your ranking, but your customers’ buying decisions as well.
- By optimizing your images, you give Google context and help it understand your website better. This will drive more targeted traffic to your store.
- Image SEO makes your website more accessible, which will improve its usability.
- SEO-friendly images increase your customers dwell time, boost customer trust, and promote buyer confidence.
- SEO-friendly images can rank in image search results, which will help you maximize your brand exposure. This will help you reach a larger audience and tap into a new source of website traffic, which will result in more sales opportunities.
- SEO-friendly images drive higher engagement, leading to a higher CTR and an increase in sales.
How to optimize your images for better search engine visibility: The top 10 best practices to follow
Best practice 1: Optimize your image file names.
Your image file names should be concise and straightforward. The best practice is to write descriptive file names that include your target keywords.
For example, if you were uploading images for a product page of a grey cashmere throw, you would want to save your images with file names like “cashmere-throw,” or “grey-sofa-throw.”
Best practice 2: Write descriptive image alt text.
This will make your website more accessible, which will improve its usability. It will also provide Google with better image context, which will help it index your images properly.
The best practice is to use relevant keywords in your alt text and optimize your alt tags for the right search intent - this will drive highly targeted traffic to your store.
Also, use your alt tags to provide additional information about your images - instead of repeating the information the image file name provides, use this valuable SEO real estate to provide extra details and enrich the entire product (and shopping) experience.
For example, the alt text for the “cashmere-throw” image could be “A grey 100% cashmere throw, perfect for every sofa and living room space.”
Best practice 3: Be careful with decorative images.
Decorative images are all images on your store that are not related to your products. Some common examples include article covers and screenshots, banners, buttons, borders, background images, and more.
They are important and can make your website more aesthetically pleasing. However, you should be careful when it comes to their optimization.
Of course, their size should neither hurt your page speed, nor affect their quality - failing to meet these requirements could mean a substantial drop in ranking, or result in a poor user experience. It can also have a negative impact on your brand image.
So, the best practice is to check the file sizes of your decorative images - the smaller their size is, the better. But remember - it’s essential that your decorative images’ sizes don’t compromise their quality.
Here are some actionable tips to ensure that’s the case:
- Upload PNG-6 or GIFs for borders or images with simple patterns.
- If possible, consider using CSS styling instead of decorative images.
- Consider using flat colors or transparent background images.
And one more thing - don’t write alt text for your borders and buttons, as Google can see this as overoptimization.
Best practice 4: Choose the right image file format.
Always consider how the image format affects the image size - heavier images can slow down your website, which will negatively impact your ranking. Additionally, slower loading pages result in a higher bounce rate and a considerable decrease in sales.
Ultimately, the best practice is to choose an image file format, such as PNG, that ensures the quality of the images you upload is high, while not hurting your page speed in any way.
You can also consider using WebP - a format that provides superior compression for images on the web. According to Google, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs, and WebP lossy images are 25–34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index.
Best practice 5: Resize large images.
If you have large images that are slowing down your website, you can resize them without compromising their quality with an image editor like Photoshop or GIMP.
When resizing images, be sure to keep the aspect ratio the same so that the image doesn’t become distorted.
Best practice 6: Compress your images.
In addition to resizing large images, you can also compress images to reduce their file size (again, without compromising their quality).
Shopify automatically compresses your images. However, you can also use Shopify’s free online image resizer (Settings > Files > Images), the “Save for Web” command in Photoshop, or Canva to initially reduce the size of your images.
Best practice 7: Implement lazy loading.
Lazy loading is a technique that delays the loading of non-critical resources until they are needed. This means that your images and video content won’t load at page load time, but only when the user needs them.
Google explains that “when we lazy load images and video, we reduce initial page load time, initial page weight, and system resource usage, all of which have positive impacts on performance.”
Best practice 8: Be careful with CDNs.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers that deliver content to users based on their geographic location.
Using a CDN can improve the loading speed of your website by delivering images from a server that’s closer to the user’s location. As an added benefit, using a CDN can also solve bandwidth issues.
But using a CDN comes with some caveats and, in general, merchants should be cautious. However, since Shopify is a hosted solution, you don’t really have to worry about this.
Still, Shopify points out that the main drawback of using a CDN is when it comes to backlinks. The more backlinks you have and the higher their quality is, the better your ranking is. By hosting your images on a CDN, you may lose some backlinks, because when someone links to your image, they will be linking to the CDN domain.
Best practice 9: Ensure your images are responsive.
With the increasing number of people using mobile devices to access the internet, it’s important to make sure your images are responsive.
Responsive images are those that adjust automatically to the size of the screen (and device) they are being viewed on.
Best practice 10: Optimize your thumbnails.
Since they’re displayed on strategic places across your store (e.g., your category pages), thumbnails are critical to your customers’ shopping experience.
Heavier thumbnails can slow down your website, which will negatively impact both your customers’ shopping experience, and your ranking.
So, the best practice is to make your thumbnail file sizes as small as you can and ensure they have unique alt text. Luckily, Shopify takes care of thumbnail optimization, so you don’t need to worry about this.
Now that you know the top 10 best practices for optimizing your images, let’s move on to the next section of the article - what’s the best (and quickest) way to optimize your images in Shopify?
How to optimize your images with ReRank?
You can use a robust Shopify SEO assistant like ReRank to automatically generate alt text for all your images.
There are two ways to do this:
1. Open the app's dashboard > Images SEO Optimizer.
You can create a custom pattern for your images alt text and optimize your image alt tags in bulk (which can save you a lot of time).
All you need to do is enter your pattern in the “Enter your Image Alt pattern” field - you can use text, the available terms (shop_name, product_title, product_vendor, and product_type), or a combination of both. Note that the terms will be replaced by their actual values.
Once you’re ready, just click “Execute.”
To make things even easier on your end, we have created a powerful Autopilot feature that automatically optimizes your image alt text.
Which brings us to the second way to optimize your images with ReRank.
2. Open the app's dashboard > Autopilot > Ensure the "Image SEO Optimizer" is On.
Again, you have two options:
- “Let the app decide.” This is a default setting. By choosing this option, you give ReRank more control over the optimization process, which minimizes the risk of SEO issues.
- Create your own template. In this case, you’ll need to enter your own image alt pattern. Again, you can use text, the available terms, or a combination of both.
Once you’ve specified your preferences, click “Save.”
And that’s it - ReRank will take care of the entire image alt text optimization process for you.
Note that it will take up to 24 hours after enabling the Autopilot feature for you to see some positive results in the Reports tab and on your app’s Dashboard.
Image SEO is vital for if you want to maximize your brand exposure on the SERPs, drive highly targeted traffic to your Shopify store, and, ultimately, boost your MRR.
By following the best practices outlined in this post, you can easily optimize your images for better searchability and increased traffic and conversions. And if you want a little extra help, our powerful Shopify SEO assistant ReRank can quickly and easily optimize all of your product images with just a few clicks!
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