Optimizing images can make a big difference for the SEO of your vacation rental website. Search engines scan text in order to know what will be helpful to searchers, and that means they also scan the text that is associated with your images.
While your guests might not care about the text associated with an image, it will get them to your website. And once they are on your site, they will certainly notice the load time of your images if they slow down your whole page.
Some search engines like Google will analyze the load time of your pages to assist in determining the ranking for your website. Keeping your photo files at a decent size becomes very important in this situation.
So what do you have to do to make sure your images are fully optimized? Prepare yourself for a deep dive into five “must-know” image optimization tips:
1. Name your images
When you upload a photograph to your website, you might think that the image is all that matters. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Search engines and SEO function using text and file names. Google won’t rank the images you post, but they will rank the file names that those images are labeled under. Make sure that you are labeling every single image you upload onto your website, rather than simply using the default file name.
For example: if the default file is named ‘DSC0001’, the photo means nothing to search engines. It will be completely lost in the millions of photos on the internet, and won’t do anything to enhance the SEO of your website.
If you name that same file ‘vacation-rental-villa-santa-barbara’, it suddenly becomes searchable under any one of those keywords. Someone searching “Vacation Rental Villa in Santa Barbara” will potentially find your website thanks to the way you have optimized your image file name.
2. Alt tags
When a browser can’t properly display an image, it will show the alternative text, otherwise known as an ‘alt tag’. In most browsers, you can see the alt tag of an image by hovering over that image with your mouse.
The coding will read something like this:
Alt tags are even more important than the file names of your images when it comes to SEO optimization. Search engines will scan every page for text, and the alt tag is the text that they will find in the place of an image on your page. Use brief keywords that relevantly describe the image pictured, so that your website can be featured in the correct spaces.
Never use keywords that aren’t relevant to your specific images, or the search engine will eventually find out you’ve been trying to cheat the system to gain better SEO.
3. Image dimensions
Never post photos on your website in their largest dimension.
Large photos cause lengthy loading times, and some customers will be too impatient to wait around for an image to load before checking out the next option they found.
The average person perusing the internet will wait on their browser to load for a grand total of three seconds. That’s right, three. This same user might wait as long as five seconds on a mobile device, but the point is that a quick load time is vital to engage guests on your website. Google analyzes the load time on websites as part of their ranking algorithm, so this is also important for your SEO.
It’s certainly nice to allow a closer view of the properties your customers are looking to rent, but you want to make sure they get to see the image immediately first, and then give them the option of zooming in once they are interested enough to stay. This will keep the whole page from freezing up and frustrating your future guests, while still allowing them the ability to see in more detail if they choose to.
Research the optimal dimensions for your website provider and make sure you size all photos to that uniform scale.
4. File sizes
Even if the dimensions of your images are small, if you have not downsized the actual file size of the image, it might still be very slow loading the page. You want to decrease the actual file size of every image before you upload it to your website. Aim to keep your file size below 100kb whenever that is feasible.
There are many tools available to do this, whether that’s a program like Photoshop or a free, downloadable software such as GIMP.
5. File types
For optimized images, you’re also going to want to make sure you’re using the best file type for the job.
We recommend using either JPEG or PNG image files. JPEG images are the most standard and basic of image files. They make it easy to provide a quality image in a small file size, and so have become very popular. You will probably use JPEGs when showcasing photos of your vacation rental properties and rooms.
If you are showing off a company logo or even a graphic displaying a local map, a PNG file is probably the better option. PNG images provide lossless compression, meaning that they retain beautiful high quality, but large file sizes as well.
GIFs should only ever be used to use animated images, and it is unlikely that you’ll use them much on your rental website.
Properly naming your files, sticking with uniform images dimensions, and keeping your photos at a decent file size are all essential when it comes to your vacation rental website’s SEO. It’s an easy way to guarantee better ranking for your website, and all it takes is a slight change in your image uploading habits.
What are your best tips and tricks for optimizing your images to advance your website’s SEO? Do you have a favorite editing tool or file naming trick? Share in the comments!