In light of Google’s recent, and currently ongoing, rollout of its Core Algorithm update you might be forgiven to thinking that it may be a good time to revisit your site’s SEO, Until the rollout of the core algorithm is complete, there are some good reasons to hold that thought for a bit longer. Until the rollout of the new Core Algorithm is complete, the SEO for your site may be unpredictable as Google will be in the process of reindexing and re-crawling the internet according to new algorithm rules. So, you may not want to tinker with your site’s SEO until this process has completed which will probably take a few weeks.
However… there are some things that you can do to improve your site’s in the meantime! One of the most important issues for Google when crawling your site is the speed in which your pages load. If your page loading speeds are slow, it’s more likely that visitors to that page will click away before interacting with it. This, therefore, will increase your page’s Bounce Rate which is something you don’t want, as Google will mark you down in SEO terms for this. Your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings may be adversely affected as a result. So how can you improve your page load speeds? One area to look at is the images that you use on your pages. Optimizing these for best loading performance may help your SEO rankings and your pages’ bounce rates!
- Checking Your Images in EverWeb: The usual suspect when it comes to slow page loading speeds will be the page’s images. It’s easy to find great images for your site, especially with EverWeb’s Free Stock Photo feature in the Media button of the Toolbar. Images from this, or any other source, should be checked before you publish your site to see if they’ve been optimized for use on the Web. This is something that you can easily discover in EverWeb. Start by selecting an image on the page then clicking on the Assets tab in the Inspector Window. You’ll see the selected image’s name highlighted in the list. If you only see the image name displayed, click on the Settings Button/Cog at the top of the Assets List. The icon will either as a gear cog or as ellipsis (three dots) inside a circle. When you click on the icon, choose the ‘Show File Info” option from the menu. You will now see more detailed information about all of the media listed in the Assets tab, including file size, image dimensions and resolution in dots per inch (dpi).
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what the image file size, resolution or image dimensions should be. Generally the rule to go by is that lower image file size with an acceptable image quality will result in a faster page load speed which will, in turn, help your SEO. in essence you may need to strike a balance between image quality and page loading speed. For example, most photography sites will load slowly as the photographer will want their images displayed in the best quality possible and for those viewing the site, the wait is probably acceptable. In most other cases, though, this probably won’t be the case, so let’s see what you can do…
- Living with the Problem: In out example above with the slow loading photography site, it may be acceptable to do nothing about page load speeds, or to find other ways to optimize your pages e.g. you could use a ‘fake loader‘ such as the free one on EverWeb PowerUp‘s site to mask the fact that the page is loading slowly behind the scenes.
If, however, you do want to improve your page load speeds, read on…
- Image Dimensions: An image’s dimensions (height and width) and the actual size of the image file itself, are the keys to faster page loading. When thinking about an image’s dimensions, think about how you are going to apply the image on your page e.g. when using the Image Slider widget, you will probably want to retain image width, as slideshows use this feature to their best effect. Slideshows also often use the full screen width to achieve so you may find a width of around 2560 pixels for your images could be what you need. For other uses of your image, you may be able to reduce the width (and height too) depending on how you will be using the image on the page:. When using image galleries, such as EverWeb’s Image Gallery and Responsive Image Gallery widgets, you can probably use an image width of between 800-1500 pixels. Again a lot depends on how much of the image you want to display within the context of the page. Portrait images, for example, will require a longer height and shorter width. Adjusting your image dimensions to suit what they are needed for will help your page load speed.
- Image File Size: The actual file size itself can be the main cause of slow page load speeds. Often thought this can be easily remedied. If you are using photo editing software for your images, check before exporting your images that the image dimensions are appropriate. Next export your images out using the photo editor’s ‘Export for Web’ option. Typically exporting as a JPEG file will be more space efficient than exporting to PNG or other formats. Typically, when exporting a JPEG file, you can set the image ‘Quality’. Most images won’t need to be exported out at 100% quality, often 70-85% is enough. This again will save you file space. If you set quality below 60-70% you will probably start to see artefacts on your images.
- Using Image Compression Software: Your image files come with a lot of information built in to their structure. Often, though, such information is not going to be needed when you are using the images on your website, so why not save space by removing this image before adding your image file to your EverWeb site? There are many free image compression software apps out there so check out your App Store to find what’s best for you.
- Images and SEO In General: The last thing to remember is that optimizing your images for a better page load speed is only one part of your SEO strategy. When working with images, remember that the image file name should also be appropriate to the image (and therefore more SEO friendly) and that you should always use ALT Text where available in EverWeb for your images!
Using images is a usually a must for your website and optimizing them to improve your page load times will benefit both your site’s visitors and your SEO too!