Tips for Optimizing Photos and Graphics for Your Blog

by Sherryl Perry on March 16, 2011

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This post may seem very basic for those of you who are experienced at blogging and maintaining a website but I’ve been surfing a lot lately and I’ve come across several blogs and websites that could use a few tips on optimizing photos and graphics for the web. So for those of you who are ready to hit that back button, stick around and add your 2-cents. What are your best tips? Where do you get your photos for your blog?

Tip #1 – Optimize Your Images for the Web

Whether you’re dealing in pixels or inches, most photos and graphics are really big – way too big to be seen on a computer screen. Part of the reason is that usually they have been captured or designed to be high quality and large enough to print. Now, lots of software and programs will resize your images before displaying them but that’s not the most efficient thing to do. The best thing to do is to make a copy of your photo, resize it and then save it for the web (which compresses it) using an image editing software. (The small graphic in the upper left corner of this article started out 900 pixels X 587 pixels and was 217kb. The image you see now is 200 pixels X 130 pixels and is only 7kb.)

Tip #2 – Use Alt Tags on Your Pictures and Graphics

When you insert images and graphics into your blog articles or pages, you have the opportunity to help the search engines find your post. We all know that search engines don’t see images. That’s why it’s so important to use the name, title, Alt-tags (alternate text) and description fields to help optimize your site for the search engines (SEO). Enter carefully chosen keywords that describe your post (not necessarily the picture).

Wordpress Add Alt Tags to Photos

As you see in the image above, when I uploaded my graphic for this post, I used keywords where I could.

Where I Find My Images

There are lots of places to find photos and graphics for your blog/website. Some are free and some are licensed. There are others that you can use if you give credit. I’ve chosen to use a lot of graphics rather than photos in my blog. I think they’re colorful and show a lot of creativity (on someone else’s behalf not mine). The site that I’ve been using for years is Big Stock Photo (note – that link is to my affiliate program with them). I use the advanced search and change the media type to illustrations only. Although, I could probably find a free image, sometimes it’s worth it to me to quickly find an image here and just license it. Another site I use is Morgue File. What sites do you recommend for images and photos? Do you have more tips that you can add?

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Thanks Todd. I checked it out. It’s always good to hear about new sites for images.
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George
Twitter:
February 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

Optimizing the Images used in blogs is really required considering the bandwidth usage and it’s SEO effectiveness. Adorning images with proper alt texts and titles could make it really increase traffic to the site.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
February 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I agree George. It’s a wasted opportunity to upload photos and graphics without keyword rich file names, titles, alt-text and descriptions. Not everyone is aware of it though. We need to spread the word! 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for sharing another source for images. I just checked out their site and they have a nice collection that’s free to use with credit. I appreciate the link.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm

You’re welcome. I think not optimizing photos for the web is a very common mistake. Whenever I’m on a site and I’m waiting for photos to load, I try to contact the webmaster to share this tip. It’s such an easy and necessary fix.
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John Knights@Business Loans June 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I use VSO Image Resizer. There are images when re-sized it’s pixels get ruined. It always happens that’s why I was searching for a program that can change the size of the image at the same time keep its pixels intact.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm

John, You may want to check out IrfanView.com. It’s more than a viewer. You can use it to optimize photos. I use Photoshop but that’s an expensive program. When clients ask me for recommendations, I usually recommend IrfanView.
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Alex May 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for those great tips! Will surely implement them in my blog! Especially we never pay much attention to our images, but from now I will!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Alex, I don’t know how I missed replying to your comment! I apologize. I value comments and try to reply in a timely fashion. This one just got away from me. I’m glad that you found my post on optimizing your photos and graphics to be helpful. Using keyword rich alternate text and descriptions is an important part of optimizing your site for the search engines. Good luck with your blog!
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Terje Sannarnes May 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Great post and tips. I would like to say that well-optimized photos can generated a lot of traffic to a website. That’s why it is so important to pay special attention to this moment.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
May 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm

That’s a good tip Terje. Video is another great way to generate traffic too. That’s something that I admit I haven’t incorporated enough of.

tyeasley May 4, 2011 at 12:26 am

Thanks Sherry for this informative and helpful article. I’m in learning stage.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
May 10, 2011 at 2:56 pm

You’re welcome. Feel free to ask questions either through my contact form or in the comment section. Lots of my blog readers are very helpful and there’s always some great info left in the comments here.
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Atulperx April 6, 2011 at 8:49 am

You have shared right information but many webmaster never concentrate on image seo . I always save images in Paint and you can notice that in paint file size is decreased almost 50 to 70% .
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Optimizing images by compressing them is so important. It’s important to Google that pages load quickly and optimization definitely is necessary now. Thanks for commenting!
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Mark March 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Sherryl, alt img tags are frequently missed opportunity for people new to on-page SEO and accessibility issues so thank you for that much needed reminder. As for places to get images, one place I love is Flickr. Many photographers allow people to use their photos under a Creative Commons license, which does require attribution, but there are so many talented photographers on Flickr, I’m happy to support them with a link from my blog.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hi Mark,
Thanks for letting us know that you use Flickr. It’s great to have different options whenever you’re looking for an image. I always seem to be in a rush when I’m trying to find an image. 🙂
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nazimwarriach March 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

Hi Sherryl,
I only resize the images so they can load faster and secondly I renamed the image file with the name which best describe it.
Thanks

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Sounds like you’re doing what you should be. It’s really critical to make your images load quickly and optimize them for SEO too. Thanks for dropping by!

Melinda March 22, 2011 at 7:47 am

I use bigstockphoto a lot but recently have been using Microsoft office clipart. They actually have a huge collection of good photos you can use.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Thanks for the tip Melinda! I’ll definitely check that out.
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Kare March 21, 2011 at 3:50 am

For wordpress user can use smush.it to reduce file size.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Thanks for letting me know about smush.it Kare. I’ll check it out. I’m lucky enough to have Photoshop but I often get asked for recommendations from clients who are looking for a low cost solution. I’ll check it out.

Katherine March 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

It is interesting that when you first start uncovering information about SEO the amount of new stuff you learn! I would not even consider giving my images an appropriate title, thank you!

Katherine

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

You’re welcome Katherine. Apparently, titles and alt-tags are becoming even more important than ever now that Google has changed their algorithms. This looks promising for all us “little-guys” (and gals).

Dennis Salvatier
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

This is great advice for people who are just getting started. Especially the pixel dimensions. nice job, Sherryl.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thanks Dennis. Knowing you’re such a great designer, it’s nice to hear you think I did a good job!

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, Sherryl, for the valuable tips. I wasn’t aware of Big Stock Photo and Morgue File and just checked them out and I’m sure I’ll be using them. I used iStock Photo and also Google Images. You need to be careful with the latter because of copyrights but there are some free in public domain. The alt tag, as you mention is critical.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

You’re welcome Jeanette. It’s the whole being “careful” about copyrights that makes me sometimes just go ahead and license a photo from Big Stock. They have such a selection, I just have to watch myself that I don’t take too long browsing and selecting though. After all, I usually go there first when I’m trying to save time.

Thanks for your suggestions too.

Tim March 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

This is something I really need to work on. I always resize my photos but I had a habit of saving at quality 12 (in Photoshop) which is totally unnecessary. Although I’ve started using a lower setting, saving for web would be better. More effort but worth it for the saving in page speed.

Alt tag is a must too. Matt Cutts had a video explaining why.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I just checked out your photography on your site Tim and it’s gorgeous. Thanks for the link to Matt’s video. That’s both cute and helpful.

Catherine Lockey
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Nice reminder Sherryl. Since Google’s algorithm change simple SEO strategies like the one you shared here matter more than ever. 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Thanks Catherine. I appreciate hearing your support!

Michael Pedzotti March 18, 2011 at 5:56 am

Hi Sherryl,

I am glad there are others who like helping out with some of the technical aspects of keeping page loading speed minimized and subsequently improving the experience for readers of your blog. I posted some time back a related article that complements this post. I called it “Is your blog bogged?” I just updated my post to point to yours at the appropriate place.

Regards, Michael

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Thanks so much for that backlink Michael. I really appreciate it. I tweeted your article. It’s really good.

Wes Towers
Twitter:
March 18, 2011 at 1:38 am

Great one, Sherryl. There are still a lot of website owners and bloggers who are not into optimising their photos. So, what you have here is a gem for these people. See, you have helped Patricia into putting Alt-tags into her own photos already. 😉 Keep your good work coming! 😉

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Thanks Wes. I’m glad that so many people are benefiting from this. I think what happens is that most of us get our blogs up and running and it’s easy to miss some of the finer points.

stevenpapas March 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Yeah, photos and graphics are very important in an article. Tip #1, about concentrating and resizing our images, is very helpful because otherwise the loading time of a webpage increases, which is bad. Google now takes into account the loading speed, too, for the ranking. I have lately started embedding videos into my reviews; I don’t know how to make them lighter.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I have not started embedding videos yet. Maybe someone reading this has experience compressing them Steven.

Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
March 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Learnt something new from your post Sherryl. Honestly had no idea how to use the alt tag and descriptions. Always left them blank.

Often use Wylio.com where you find photos from Flickr that you can use free of charge.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Wylio.com is another popular site. Thanks for mentioning it Catarina. I’m glad I could help with the alt tags.

Diana March 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I also use istockphoto.com but am also looking for free sources so I will definitely check out Morgue File. Thanks for the tip on using alt tags, I am guilty of skipping that but with this in mind, I will make sure I use the right keywords. I know there is a image editing software on Wordpress but I also like using Picnik.

Thanks again for the insights 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Alt-tags will help Diana and it’s definitely best to optimize your images before uploading them.

Keyuri Joshi
Twitter:
March 17, 2011 at 8:12 am

I’ve had my blog for a little while now but had no idea of how to optimize the photo keywords. Thanks for teaching me something new. As for pictures, you turned me on to MorgueFile where I get an occasional free picture. I’ve been using istockphoto.com but will check out the prices on bigstock. Great post!! Sometimes it helps to google a coupon code for these places. I’ve saved a few dollars here and there.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I’m glad it helped Keyuri. I love coupon codes too! I haven’t had much luck with coupons for Big Stock but I can almost always find them when I’m renewing domain names on GoDaddy. It doesn’t hurt to look.

Mike March 17, 2011 at 5:58 am

It’s worth pointing out that, in terms of speeding up page load wait time, you should probably be using the .jpg format.

You would only need to use .png if you were displaying something which needed to be represented in a lossless format.

.bmp would just be madness.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

“.bmp would just be madness” 🙂 – That’s true but it made me giggle. That is a good point Mike. Hmmmm…. should we talk about .gif? No – let’s not. As you say, let’s stick to .jpg as a rule of thumb.

Michael Pedzotti March 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

While I do not want to get too technical, GIF format is best used for charts, clipart and images use a limited range of colors. It is fine for use on web pages. JPG format is best for photos and any image that uses heaps of colors.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

Gifs are the only way I know of to create a transparent background. When your background is white, it’s not an issue but for a graphic on a website with a colored background, it comes in handy. I really do like using graphics as an alternative to photos. 🙂

Patricia March 17, 2011 at 2:17 am

Hi Sherryl

What a truly helpful post. Never too basic for me 😉 And now I know how to put in the alt tag for my photo…yay 🙂 Thanks Sherryl

So many sites I visit get all techie on me. Yikes, I leave more confused than when I landed there lol Will leave here with a smile on my face and something I’ve learnt.

Patricia Perth Australia

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for the positive feedback Patricia! I really try to not confuse anyone. After all, I want to be known as a friendly computer geek. 🙂

Julie Weishaar
Twitter:
March 17, 2011 at 1:54 am

Hi Sherryl,

It seems we are on the same thought train this week. I just posted something similar. Love your way of explaining though – so clear and concise. Must be the teacher in you :). @Susan – I have heard and seen the same thing when you put a URL in an image unless of course you are hyper-linking it.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hi Julie, I like being on the same thought train as you. 🙂 I really need to look into that deleting the URL issue on my site. I just built a website for a client using WP and I was able to delete all the links to his pictures. It’s something weird on my site.

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
March 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Good explanations especially the alt tag Sherryl. One tip and I can’t remember where I heard it from is not to put in your URL. One reason is if the image shows up in a Google image search and a person clicks on it they will be taken to a page just with the picture and not the post.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

That’s a good point Susan about deleting the URL but for some reason when I try to delete it, I’m prompted that I’m deleting the image. It could be the way I use WP media to upload images or maybe it’s my theme. I’m not sure. I’ll look into it more when I have time. (As usual, I was writing this post on the fly and trying to post it quickly yesterday. 🙂 )

Roberta Budvietas
Twitter:
March 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I use iclipart.com. Find for the price and the number of pictures we use what with our ebooks etc, that it was a good investment. Thanks for the tips

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
March 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

That looks like a good site too Roberta. Thanks. I like having more options.

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