A website without images is well, drab. You know, boring. A website with non-optimized images is a complete drag, and it will eat up your precious bandwidth, slow down just about everything and ruin the user experience (UX).
Every website owner should strive to provide the best user experience to their visitors at all times. Using heavy images that take ages to load isn’t how you deliver a streamlined user experience. And if you have heavy images on your site, you probably haven’t optimized the same for search engines. You’re losing UX and SEO points left, right and center and your online business is bearing the brunt of it all.
Today’s post will show you how to optimize your images for best site performance and SEO purposes. I mean, what’s the point of having a super-fast website that has crappy image SEO? In addition, you will discover helpful image optimization plugins that will improve the performance of your beloved WordPress site. Enjoy the post and share your thoughts (or anything else really) in the comments. We always look forward to that 🙂
How to Optimize Images for WordPress (Prior to Uploading)
Before looking at WordPress image optimization plugins, let’s get a few things out of the way. Optimizing WordPress images for best performance and SEO goes beyond just plugins. For instance, you have to ensure:
- Your images are named appropriately (Great for SEO)
- Images are the right size (Why upload a huge file when a smaller one can do the trick?)
- You smush your images (Reduces the size of your image files)
- You add alt and title attributes to your images (Great for SEO)
Naming Images Appropriately
You need to name your images like a marketer – or with SEO in mind. The reasoning here is quite simple: Properly named images will come up in Google Images search results, which gives you a huge boost in traffic. Moreover, properly named images are easier to track and find. For SEO: If you’re working with keywords, it would be great to include a keyword in the title of your image.
Don’t upload your images looking like PHOTO101.jpg or something similar, name all your images appropriately. Technically speaking, naming your images properly has no effect whatsoever on site performance, but it’s good for SEO.
Using Images with Proper Sizes
If you upload crazy-big images and later re-size them using HTML, I believe you’re wasting time and slowing down your WordPress site all at the same damn time. If you want to display a 300 x 300 image for instance, make sure the image measures 300 x 300 prior to uploading.
If you can make the image smaller and re-size it to 300 x 300 using HTML without compromising the quality, the better. Just don’t make your images bigger than you really need.
Smushing will reduce the size of your images considerably. The process involves stripping your images of complimentary data such as gps coordinates, type of camera used and creation date among others.
Sprites, a fairly-known CSS technique, allows you to use a single image to achieve different designs across your website. As opposed to loading several images (which takes time), Sprites will load a single image, saving you a lot of seconds in page load time.
Always Add the ALT attribute to Your Images
Adding the alt attribute to your images does not make your WordPress website faster, but it’s definitely good for your SEO campaign. Search engines spiders do not see your images the same way human readers do. They rely on information attached to your image (e.g. title of image and the contents of the alt attribute) to classify and ultimately rank the image.
While the alt attribute should be used to hold alternate text for an image (should the image fail to load for one reason or another, the alternate text is shown in its place), you can use this attribute for SEO purposes. You can throw in a keyword or key-phrase into the alternate text and watch as your SEO soar.
Top Ten (10) Image Optimization Plugins for WordPress
With that first part out of the way, perhaps I should stop revealing the secrets of the SEO trade and move on to the juicier part of this post; WordPress image optimization plugins!
EWWW Image Optimizer WordPress Plugin
With over three hundred thousand (300k) downloads and a superb rating of 4.8/5.0 stars, EWWW Image Optimizer is the image optimization plugin that will save your WordPress website. Programmed to run automatically, you can use EWWW Image Optimizer to optimize images when uploading them to your site, as well as previously uploaded images
Other than that, you can easily convert images to file formats that are smaller in size. The plugin uses the gifsicle, jpegtran, pngquant, pngout and optipng image tools to optimize your images without losing quality. Advantages of using the EWWW Image Optimizer include:
- Faster backups
- Web pages load faster
- Less bandwidth usage
- The plugin is super-fast and easy to install and use (Tried it myself)
- Better PNG optimization
CW Image Optimizer WordPress Plugin
Are you looking for an efficient and secure image optimization plugin? CW Image Optimizer is your answer. CW Image Optimizer uses Linux littleutils image tool to reduce the size of your image files in turn improving the performance of your WordPress site.
WP Smush.it WordPress Plugin
Managed and maintained by WPMU DEV, WP Smush.it allows you to optimize images by compressing them individually in the Media Library or in bulk from the Media menu in WordPress Admin (Dashboard). WP Smush.it integrates WordPress with Smush.it API, which is the platform that enables this image optimization plugin to:
- Strip additional data from JPEGs
- Optimize JPEG compression
- Convert GIFs to PNGs
- Strip un-used colors from indexed images
WP Smush.it optimizes your images automatically behind the scenes. The plugin can optimize images as you add them to your blog, and you can optimize existing images with just a few clicks. WP Smush.it has been downloaded over 800k times, has a rating of 4.1/5.0 and you can expect great support and more features from WPMU DEV’s professional team.
Lazy Load WordPress Plugin
Quite a name for a plugin that delivers great image optimization for better site performance. The best part is Lazy Load works out-of-the-box meaning you don’t need to configure time-consuming options. The plugin, which boasts of over eighty thousand (80k) downloads and a rating of 4.5/5.0, works automatically and uses jQuery.sonar to load images only when they’re visible to the user. Your images will appear one after the other as the user scrolls down the page.
Lazy Load is the awesome result of the combined efforts of Jake Goldman of 10up LLC, Automattic and TechCrunch. Lazy Load is a great reflection of the power of jQuery.sonar and a great image optimization plugin for WordPress.
SEO Friendly Images WordPress Plugin
If you’re lagging behind with your image SEO, you are about to discover why SEO Friendly Images is the WordPress image optimization plugin you require. Also categorized as a WordPress SEO plugin, SEO Friendly Images automatically adds the alt and title attributes to your images. Just set your alt and title options easily and your work is done!
As we saw earlier, the alt attribute is super-important to search engine optimization. The title attribute contains the text (tooltip) that appears when you mouse over an image. SEO Friendly Images was developed by Vladimir Prelovac (renowned WordPress plugin author of other popular plugins such as Smart YouTube Pro and Theme Test Drive) has a rating of 4.0/5.0 and over one million (1m) downloads.
Hammy WordPress Plugin
Looking to provide an optimized image experience across multiple devices especially mobile phones? If you said yes, Hammy will interest you. Instead of reducing the size of your images, Hammy grabs images from your posts and pages and generates a couple of smaller images. When a reader get to your website, Hammy automatically serves the most appropriate image. This gives your mobile users a better experience.
The plugin relies on jQuery, but if the latter is unavailable, Hammy will fall back to the original image. This can present a problem, and perhaps it’s the sole reason why the plugin has a rating of 3.8/5.0 and about seventeen thousand (16.9k) downloads only. Hammy grabs metadata as well as alt and title attributes from the original image, which is a great plus. Unfortunately, the plugin does not support custom post types and takes quite some configuring to work.
Imsanity WordPress Plugin
Are you tired of contributors (or users) uploading imsanely huge photos? Well, you don’t have to scale down the images manually anymore because now you have Imsanity. You can easily configure max with, height and image quality that help Imsanity to keep all uploaded images in check. The plugin scales down large images to your pre-configured size and then replace the originals. The plugin comes with a bulk-resize option that takes care of previously uploaded images. Imsanity ships with other features not mentioned above and has a rating of 4.9/5.0.
Prizm Image WordPress Plugin
According to Accusoft, the author, this WordPress image optimization plugin allows you to “…reduce the file size of your images by up to 70%…” without losing resolution and visual quality. With just four thousand (4k) downloads and a rating of 3.5/5.0, we can argue that Prizm Image optimization plugin is getting there step by step, or rather image by image.
Prizm Image helps you to optimize JPEG compression, optimize PNGs and GIFs, remove metadata from JPEG files and so much more. You need to register for a free Prizm Image account to use the plugin. If you ask me, this image optimization plugin looks great, but the few downloads and the less-than-four star rating is giving it a bad vibe.
PB Responsive Images WordPress Plugin
I would have loved to say responsive web design is the future but it is right here with us, in the present. If you don’t know it already, responsive design allows you to build websites that look great on all devices irrespective of screen width.
To achieve the best outcome, your textual content as well as images must be responsive. This is where PB Responsive Images come in. The plugin reformats your images according to standard CSS media queries, offering you a great deal of flexibility. You can customize your media queries per image, per post or per layout. PB Responsive Images was developed by Jacob Dunn and Phenomblue and has a rating of 4.5/5.0.
Media File Renamer WordPress Plugin
You’ve probably noted an incorrectly labeled image file on your WordPress website at least once in the past. Renaming the file manually means you have to edit all the references to that image as well. If you ask me, that sounds cumbersome especially if you run a big website.
What if you could get a WordPress image optimization plugin that takes care of the heavy lifting for you? Well, guess what, Media File Renamer is just that plugin. This plugin helps you to rename your images without breaking a sweat. On top of that, Media File Renamer updates all references (links in posts and pages, src etc) automatically, which makes your work easy. You can even bulk-rename all your files at once. Just think of what this would mean for your image SEO efforts.
ShortPixel is an image compression plugin that just works: install it and then forget about it. With over 20,000 active installs according to WordPress it is a popular choice for those that are aware of the importance of having optimized images on their site.
It is an important factor for SEO to have a site that loads fast and the images are generally the largest resource on any given site. ShortPixel’s powerful algorithms make sure the images (JPEGs, PNGs and GIFs) and PDFs are resized and optimized properly. This leads to faster websites that Google loves! Not to mention its a better user experience for the visitors.
ShortPixel can not only resize and compress your site’s older images/PDFs but it also automatically does the same for each new image you add on your site. Thus you just need to install the plugin, configure it and then forget about it. It will just do its magic in the background while you work on your other things on your site.
Over to you…
You now have plenty of choices as far as WordPress image optimization plugins go. Choose one that suits your needs perfectly. If you’re willing to experiment, you can try two plugins at a time but there is no use – one image optimization plugin should be enough.
Which image optimization plugin do you use to improve performance on your WordPress website? Please share with us in the comment section below. Adios amigo!