On-Site SEO for Lawyers: Optimized Images for Law Firms
Chris Dreyer | July 30, 2016
What is it?
Image SEO1 or image optimization refers to the tasks performed on images that enables them to help a web page in ranking for a particular keyword phrase. Image optimization is also related to the overall performance of a page in search in terms of its load time and overall weight.
Elements of Image Optimization
There are some tasks done to images that are visible and those that are more behind-the-scenes. Here are several areas where SEO and images work together.
- Alt attributes of images
- Titles of images
- Captions of Images
- Meta data of images
- File size of images
- Images as anchors
- Dimension definitions of images
- File names of images
- Image positioning (for usability)
Image optimization for SEO2 is a multifaceted process with a lot of moving parts. If you cannot get to every one of these best practices, it is not as if your site will suffer a loss in rankings but every little bit helps.
Optimize Alt Attributes Creatively
Google uses alt text to determine what images on a web page are about. Attorneys need to avoid stuffing keywords into their alt tags but creatively describing an image using a target keyword phrase for the page is totally legitimate. Make sure all of the images on your site have alt attributes, that they contain the target keyword phrase for the page and that they are also descriptive of the image they are on.
From a usability standpoint, alt text also helps users and can improve the experience they have on a web page3. For example if images are disabled in a person’s browser, they will still be able to see the alt text.
A quick way to find all of the images on your site that do not have an alt attribute is to run it through W3C schools markup validation service. Lawyers will get a ton of other information on what’s wrong with their markup but all the image errors will be in there too.
Include Titles in Images
Titles are a little different than alt text because it is meant to provide additional information as opposed to alternative information. Many people do not take the time to fill out titles on images and even though they may not be factored into the equation for rankings they can provide enhanced user experience. In Internet Explorer, the alt text is displayed to people after they hover over an image.
Captions on images are not always common place but if you have them, you might as well optimize them. If you have images in a blog post or page for looks or to break up text, it might not make sense to add captions. When there are captions though, include the keyword phrase for the page in the caption in some way. Just like with alt attributes and titles, be clever on how you include it.
Image Meta Data
Images get shared on social media sites ubiquitously. Making that task easy for people may mean that happens more and more. Sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all leverage data attributes to tailor content to their platforms. By providing those attributes on their images, lawyers may have better luck getting images shared.
Here are some of the cool things you can do with data attributes:
- Set the click through link from pins on Pinterest
- Set a default description for many different social media sites
- Provide alternate images suitable for sharing on social sites (this is great for images that are smaller on a lawyers site)
Open Graph meta tags are another way that lawyers can use meta data to optimize images. Open Graph meta tags are recognized by leading social media sites and can be used to accomplish many of the same things that data attributes do.
Since social media sites are major drivers of web traffic, it makes sense for lawyers to invest time in making sure content gets shared easily and richly on social sites.
File Size of Images
The size of images is crucial for SEO because they directly impact how fast pages load. Page speed has been a ranking factor since 2010. Images are usually the major culprits of sluggish page load times and they are also one of the easiest things to fix.
As a best practice lawyers should reduce the file size of their images as much as possible. Different image file formats offer various benefits for size savings while maintaining quality. There are three basic file types that most images fall into.
- JPG: An all-around good format that is able to be compressed. Most will look fine after being compressed however there may be a loss in quality. They can support many different colors making them ideal for photgraphs
- GIF: The GIF is perhaps most well-known for its animated qualities however it is also a good choice for low resolution files and they also support transparency. GIF files are also very easy to compress.
- PNG: Like the GIF, PNG files are also good for images that need transparency. Depending on the type of PNG, they tend to be larger file sizes making them less ideal for regular images on your site.
Image optimization for SEO can be multi-faceted but there are usually a lot of easy wins right off the bat. At the very least image file sizes can be reduced to increase load time. Images can also be used to optimize a page for a target keyword phrase.
For reducing file size, the best thing for attorneys to do is leverage a WordPress plugin for optimizing image size. Wp Smushit4; is a great plugin for quickly and easily optimizing images for pages and posts. After you install the plugin, simply go into your media library and check that images have been optimized. You can do it manually but newer versions of WP Smushit will optimize images automatically.