The world wide web would be a dull and less interesting place without the support of visuals. As technology advances over time so to does the ability to incorporate pictures and images into website design. Now that multimedia is flooding the internet and every smartphone and tablet comes with a camera a greater need has arisen for web pages and website designers to assure images are optimized for proper user performance and experience. In order for websites to maintain on-site optimization structure and integrity all images must follow certain guidelines and meet certain requirements to maintain maximum load times, page speeds and search engine optimization (SEO) exposure. When it comes to online communication and interactivity images play a key role in the overall power and impact of platforms.

With so many different picture formats, sizes and file types online there is a huge need for conformity and unity when it comes to on-site optimization. Without recommended configurations and compositions there would be complete chaos on how visual imagery is displayed on the internet. Everything from choosing the right image, to picking the right file name, to selecting the right format, to scaling for SEO, to responsiveness, to file size reduction, to captions, to alt text and title text, to alignment, to XML image sitemaps and so much more there is a lot that goes into on-site optimization for pictures. Images make content more appealing so they should included whenever appropriate and given the right opportunity. Let’s take a moment to review some of the most important factors and features when it comes to on-site optimization for images.

Image Insight #1: Online Compression and Conversion

When preparing an image for on-site optimization and use you will first want to make sure the file name accurately represents what the image is of. Using search engine friendly keywords and phrases while describing what the picture highlights is the first step in converting for web use. Next you will want to convert to the right format which varies widely depending on objective. JPEG’s are for larger photos or illustrations, PNG’s are for preserving background transparency, WebP’s are for high-quality results with smaller file sizes, and SVG’s are for logos and icons (CSS or JavaScript manipulation). Next you will want to compress images to the correct file and display sizes with it being important to make them browser and device responsive through utilization of the “srcset” attribute. One way to reduce file picture sizes without impacting 100% quality ratios is by removing the exchangeable image file format (EXIF data. For further image identification you will want to add captions when situation appropriate as well alt text and title text for those cases when the image fails to display but still needs to provide a description. Also of note is that including images into your XML sitemaps helps Google index, track and store your images for future search suggestions. Finally you will want to make sure image attributes are included when relevant and that Google structured data guidelines are followed so that your images can be crawlable and indexable.

Image Insight #2: Formatting and Testing Tools

When it comes to making sure your images are on-site optimized and website ready there is a wide variety of tools you want to utilize while preparing them for the internet. For browser and device compatibility checking you can use a resource like CanIuse.com. For scaling, formatting and editing you can us a tool like PixLR.com. For sizing and display mapping you can use technologies like ImageOptim or websites like JPEGmini, jpeg.io, Kraken.io and imagecompressor.com. After you have fully on-site optimized your images you can test your site with assets like Google PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, WebPageTest.org or Pingdom. There are a plethora of other tools and rule explanations out there so whatever you choose to reference just make sure it is in compliance with best search engine optimization (SEO) and on-site optimization practices.

Image Insight #3: WebP

WebP is a contemporary image structure that facilitates exceptional lossless and lossy compression for pictures on the internet. Using WebP, webmasters and web developers can produce smaller, clear, and richer images that make the online experience much quicker. WebP lossless pictures are 26% tinier in size as related to similar PNGs. WebP lossy pictures are 25-34% tinier than equivalent JPEG images at identical SSIM quality index ratios. Lossy WebP compression technology deploys predictive coding to tag and adjust an image. Predictive coding utilizes the settings in closely located combinations of pixels to predict the values in a block, and then translate only the difference. Lossless WebP compression triggers already viewed and recorded image fragments to precisely reconstruct new pixels. WebP works in Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, the Opera browser, and many additional tools and softwares. WebP comes with the efficient and effective encoding and decoding library “libwebp” and the command line integrations “cwebp” and “dwebp” for translating pictures to and from the WebP format, as well as options for viewing, mixing and animating WebP pictures. In conclusion, always remember to check server support for WebP by downloading the precompiled cwebp conversion tool for Linux, Windows or Mac OS X.

While on-site optimization for images may seem a bit daunting and time consuming the benefits of increased search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), page speed, browser caching, interactivity, content augmentation and so much more far outweigh the negatives. If you do feel overwhelmed by all that goes into on-site image preparation and optimization it is always worthwhile working with an SEO company or website design agency to help manage and implement the correct image methodologies and strategies. Images are what make the internet more exciting and attractive so there inclusion should always be considered when creating a website or content on the web. Well taken unique and exclusive pictures will always be a sure way to not only set yourself apart from the competition but to also make a strong connection with fans, followers, customers and clients.