Your full-size images are killing your site SEO

While my camera was sitting at the repair shop last December and January, I wrote a long blog post about Editing Images, with links to maybe a half-dozen or more free or low-cost image editing software. Most of you weren’t listening. 🙂

The best reason of all for you to edit your images is that it saves you and your visitors money and keeps visitors on your site longer! Yes, that’s right. Optimizing your images before uploading them to your site means your site loads faster. That’s good for your images, good for you and your site visitors’ pocket, and good for search engine optimization. I hope you’re listening now. 😀

Ready for a quick example?

Let’s start with JPEGMINI. This site doesn’t resize your image dimensions, but optimizes it to minimize the image weight. Here’s an example of my original 4000×3000 pixel photo on JPEGMINI. <-Open that  link in a new tab to see it. The left side is the original image weighing in at 8.1MB. On the right is the same image at 3MB after being run through JPEGMINI.  Can you see much difference?

Next up is the same image edited in Aviary, where I resized the image dimensions to the maximum content width suggested for my theme, Altofocus, which is 770 pixels wide. (Aviary has a max resize dimension of 1024 pixels high, so my Aviary image is actually 768 pixels wide when keeping the image proportional.) The resulting image came in at 2.5MB and Aviary saves images as PNG. The download button didn’t give any option to save my image in a different format.

Each and every theme showcase page on WordPress.com provides image dimension data in the Quick Specs section at the very bottom. You can check your own theme’s image information via the Theme Showcase or in your site’s dashboard>Themes>Info in the top right corner of that screen.

Unfortunately, neither of these apps managed to get my original image below 2.5MB, which is still quite  heavy as far as website images go and a killer for visitors on mobiles. Images or Slideshows with high resolution images will never be seen because of the amount of time required to load them in the browser. ProTip: Displaying lots of images in a Gallery slideshow slows things down even more.

When you edit your images, you should aim for a trade-off between image compression and image quality. The higher the compression, the smaller the file size, but high image compression also affects the quality of the image and not in a good way. Besides resizing, most image editing programs can cleanly reduce the weight of your image. The two programs I use most are Adobe’s PhotoShop Elements and Corel’s Paintshop Pro. Both are relatively low cost, but there is free, open-source software that you can download as well.

Here’s my final example image, edited in PSE11 at 770×1027 pixels and weighing in at 464KB.

IMG_2059 copy2

Each of the 11+ sites I currently own or manage on WordPress.com still have oodles of free storage space available because I resize and optimize every single image I upload. For search engine rankings, that’s a huge plus. But at the end of the day, it’s not about me; it’s about you, my site visitor, being able to see my site images without needing to endlessly wait for them to load. It’s a “win-win” situation for us both. 🙂

•Trivia Question: How much free storage space did WordPress.com offer when it first started? Answer in a forthcoming post. If you know the answer, as a bonus question, how much of your current Media Library would fit that storage?