When it comes to publishing content on your blog, you know that a photo is crucial. Images help to break up the content and give the piece that extra push it needs to grab a reader’s attention. The general rule of thumb is one image per 500 words, so for many bloggers this means adding a few images to help improve the article.

However, what many Webmasters forget is that there are ways to use images to improve your SEO. While they certainly help you with appeal, there are optimization tips and different rules you have to follow to make sure they are helping your content more than they are hurting it. It’s not difficult to optimize by any means, but ignoring optimization can be detrimental to your content’s success (no matter how optimized the actual text may be). Moral of the story: Images deserve attention for SEO.

How to Optimize an Image for Your Blog’s SEO

Below are a few different things you should keep in mind when optimizing images for your website and content:

Save the image file with a keyword name.

When naming the image to save to your computer and then upload to your blog, make sure that you are using keywords in the file name. You don’t want to try to trick search engines by labeling it something that it’s not, but be as descriptive as possible.

Use hyphens to separate words.

When saving an image, you should save it as “SEO-WordPress-Plugins” as opposed to “SEO WordPress Plugins.” This is what search engine bots generally prefer.

Enter in an alt text.

When you upload a photo to WordPress, you will see a space for “Alt text.” Add in a description of the image here in 5 words or less.

Keep your file sizes small.

This will improve load time, which in turn will improve your SEO. Use a tool like Image Optimizer to size your images appropriately.

Use captions.

It’s tough to say if this actually affects your SEO, but it’s worth mentioning. A descriptive caption is usually shown to readers (unlike the alt text), so it can help improve your bounce rate and keep readers engaged.

Tips and Places to Find Legal Images

Of course, a big part to optimizing your images for SEO is not stealing images from Google. This is a trap many Webmasters fall into, and it can get you penalized by Google if you go too far. Consider some of the sites below where you can find free images along with a few plugins to help you optimize those images:

Free Image Sites

Flickr. This is probably your most popular option. All you need to do is search for an image you like and then click the link under “license.” This will show you your options when it comes to using the image. If it says you are free to republish, you’re good to go.

Creative Commons. This is a site full of only images you are free to publish on your blog, so it’s quite popular. You can also find photos here that can be used for commercial use. I find it has a large variety, so it’s one of my favorites.

Every Stock Photo. This site is a directory of images that pulls them from several different places (including Flickr and Creative Commons). This site also has terms of use for all of their photos just under each photo, but you don’t actually have to click on the photo to see this information. It’s right there on the homepage, so it makes searching very easy.

WordPress Plugins

CW Image Optimizer. This plugin uses Linux image optimization tools and is very easy to use. It’s easy to install, so it’s probably the best option for beginners.

EWWW Image Optimizer. This plugin will help you optimize images you have already uploaded if you want to go back and make changes. It can also convert your images to the file form needed to make the smaller, so it’s one of the best out there.

PB Responsive Images. This plugin is a little bit more advanced, but great for blogs who use a lot of images. Each is reformatted based on standard CSS queries, so it’s said to give you more flexibility. You can also customize the queries used per image, so this is a great option if your blog relies heavily on photos.

Do you have any more great resources or tips? Let us know in the comment section below.