Google guards its statistics like a Rottweiler protecting its favorite chew toy. But there is no doubt image searches account for a significant portion of overall search activity, which is why proper image optimization is essential.  Image optimization means doing the little things to get your images ranked high in Google image searches. It also means reducing the file size of an image without sacrificing image quality.

Image optimization does not require you to have a PhD in coding. In fact, you may be better equipped than a programmer to handle optimization because you are more attuned to the goal of acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones.

Choose well
Start by understanding the difference between image types—primarily .jpg, .gif, and .png. Each has its own characteristics. Knowing the difference helps you choose which type is best for your product display. For example, a .png image may be best if your product needs to appear on a transparent background.

Just because an image looks the size of a postage stamp on your computer, that does not necessarily translate to a small file size. The file could be as big as Mt. Rushmore, which means it will take too long to load. If your images take more than three seconds to load, you’re in trouble. There is no hard set of rules for how large is too large for an image. However, try to stay south of one megabyte for file size. Pixlr is a popular resizing tool, but here is a list of a few more options.

If you take a photo and then download it, the default file name will be something like dsc1001.jpg. Let’s say you sell pink floaties. Exactly no one will Google “disc1001” to find a pink floatie. and that image name will get you nowhere with search rankings. A photo of a pink floatie would be better named round-pink-foatie.jpg. Don’t forget to optimize thumbnails, too.

Use alt text
Take advantage of the alt text field when you place an image on your website. Seeing-impaired shoppers, who may make up a significant portion of your potential market, use screen readers. The alt text describes the image to them. More than that, the alt text field is another important tool in optimizing search results. Include a keyword to further strengthen the alt text phrase like “toddler enjoying life in a pink floatie.

Web images are not just pretty pictures. They attract, engage, and retain. It’s all about the rankings, Images are a powerful means for insuring you show up high in image search results—if you do them right.