Last week we showed you how to find images for your WordPress blog that can be used for free to enhance your content. In this tutorial, we are going to show you how to optimize these images so that pages continue to load quickly without increasing bandwidth.
Images increase the size of a page and loading times are affected as a result. This leads to a frustrating user experience and can harm your search ranking.
Using this tutorial, you will be able to make better use of images so that everyone benefits.
Optimizing Before Uploading
The WordPress thumbnail creation feature makes it possible to resize images to any size that you wish, or choose from three pre-defined image size options. Unfortunately, while images are automatically made smaller, they are not compressed; meaning the overall size of the file remains the same.
In order to make better use of images before using the thumbnail feature, you should optimize before uploading them to your site.
Numerous image-editing tools out there will let you save a photo specifically for web use. Photoshop and its ‘Save for Web & Devices’ option is the most popular one; however, there are several excellent free tools too such as GIMP and RIOT. If you are a Linux user, check out Trimage.
Optimizing After Uploading
WordPress understands the need for optimizing images and offers numerous plugins to help you make them more efficient.
Our favourites include:
All of these plugins can be found and installed by going to Plugins > Add New from your WordPress dashboard. Using one or more of these tools, you will be able to convert GIF files to PNG and vice-versa, remove unused images, remove Meta data from JPEGs and optimize compression.
Smush.It is particularly feature-heavy but, unlike the others, relies on an external server to process images. If you are concerned about the efficiency of your CPU, you should avoid using this plugin when traffic is high.
Optimize for SEO
Reducing the size of images helps to improve SEO by improving page load times, but there are several other tricks that can also boost your search performance.
Adding alt text (the text that search engines use to understand images), descriptive file names and captions are all recommended.
This can be done manually; however, WordPress offers a much simpler solution with the SEO Friendly Images plugin, which automatically adds alt and title attributes to every image that you upload to improve traffic.
The Page Analysis functionality of the hugely popular WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is also useful for helping to improve image SEO.