Writing is fundamental to web marketing, but it isn't the only tool you have at your disposal. In fact, words are often outranked by visuals in terms of what attracts attention. I'm not saying this to put words down--I think writing is incredible and should be used as much as possible. But one of the biggest ways to maximize your traffic and revenue is to make sure your site looks great on any device, even if all someone wants to do is look at pictures.
This starts with image optimization. Images help draw people in, so they need to be high quality without taking too long to load or use up unnecessary bandwith . If you're not careful about how you execute this balance, then visitors will leave before absorbing anything else. Luckily, there are just a few things you need to focus on in order to get the most from your images.
In this article, I’ll explain why image optimization is so important and detail a five-step process for getting it done quickly and efficiently. Let's dive in!
What is Image Optimization?
The very definition of optimization calls upon improving something, whether it's to increase speed or otherwise improve its performance. No matter what you’re optimizing (a business practice, an algorithm, etc), there are really only three steps involved: Identify what needs to be done Determine how much can be improved Evaluate the effects [of that improvement]
When we apply this logic to images , we find that there are three ways to make them perform better: Resize images so they don’t take up as much space or load as slowly Optimize the color and quality of the images, making them appear more professional Reduce image file size by reducing image resolution, lowering the number of color in an image, or using a new format
All of these steps will have a positive impact on how quickly someone's browser loads your page. In turn, this may help with search engine rankings because Google now considers site speed as a factor in its algorithm . But before we get started on all those things you need to do for optimization...
It’s important to clarify why optimization is even necessary. After all, most people don’t realize that images can be too big or have the wrong format, so why should it matter?
4 Signs You Need to Optimize Your Images
If any of this sounds familiar, then you’ll probably want to optimize your images:
Larger file sizes make pages load slowly. Even if your site isn't slow , visitors might leave because they don't want to wait for it to load. Visitors are using mobile phones and tablets with slower connections. These devices typically take longer than desktops to load web pages, so even small image enhancements will help users browsing on-the-go. Images don't look good enough for your audience . If your site is about luxury products, but it's full of pixelated, blurry pictures...you're going to have a problem.
Your images may not fall into any of those four categories, but there are other reasons why you might want to optimize your site's images:
You're trying to reduce hosting costs . If you’re paying for each image or if the images take up too much space on your server, it might be time to optimize. You know your audience can't stand slow-loading pages . If someone needs to wait 10 seconds every time they visit a page...well, let's just say that's going to end badly. You don't really know how many people will see your site . For example, if you're going after an international market and aren't very confident about which languages visitors tend to read in, then it would be a good idea to optimize for speed. You have an affiliate site with lots of images . If you're not the one who built the website, then you don't know what size they are or if they can even be resized.
5 Steps to Optimizing Your Site's Images
Now that we've discussed why image optimization is necessary, let's talk about how it's done! There are five steps to optimizing your site's images: Pick a method with which to optimize your images Make sure your software and hardware support those methods Find an image editing tool Make image optimizations Upload the optimized images
We'll discuss each of these before providing step-by-step instructions for optimizing every type of image on your site. Let's dive in!
For companies that have an entire team of web developers, or for creative agencies that do this type of work regularly, there are lots of tools to turn to. And many of the image optimization services provide great options for optimizing images -- but most websites don't fall into either category. So what are you supposed to do if you want your site's images optimized but don't have someone on hand?
The answer is simple: Don't try to be a hero and do it all on your own. Instead, use one (or more) of these four methods:
When we say “edit” here, we mean using a third-party tool like Photoshop and Paint.net to make changes to how your image looks.
The easiest and quickest way to optimize is with a service like Kraken.io or SmushIt . Each of these can handle bulk optimization (meaning, you can set it up where your website uploads images automatically without human involvement), and provide good results for most images.
The downside of these services is that they will re-save your images as JPGS -- which might be great if that's the format you originally uploaded, but not so great if not. Pick one of them and upload all of your original images; this won't take too long if you have fewer than 50 on each page (or fewer than 500 on your entire site).
Once those optimizations are done, check back to make sure the optimized image is the same quality as the original. If it's not, then you might have to keep looking for another service that will deliver better results.
This method is best if you only want to crop your images without changing their file type. Usually this option saves by removing extra information from the top, bottom, left and right of an image -- but doesn't reduce its size by much (if at all).
Like File Compression Methods 1 and 2, Scour can also do bulk optimization -- upload all of your original images through one interface instead of having to go through each page in your site editor.
It takes a little bit longer than software-based optimizations because each image has to be uploaded individually though the web browser, but
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