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01 septembre 2021 • Resources

Optimizing ecommerce images: best practices for online stores in 2021

Optimizing ecommerce images: best practices for online stores in 2021

The product photography on your ecommerce website must showcase your merchandise in the best light. You can spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to capture the perfect photos so that your products are visually appealing to your target audience. 

However, presentation isn’t the only factor to consider adding images to your website. Optimization is essential to delivering a great user experience, for SEO, and for several other essential factors.

In fact, it can make or break vital aspects of your ecommerce business that ultimately impact your revenue. For this reason, it’s essential that you understand how to optimize ecommerce images to deliver the best overall results.

What does image optimization mean?

When an image’s file size is too large, it negatively affects the page load time. As a result, the shopper’s experience is diminished. Some of your site visitors may navigate away from your store if it’s really slow and may eventually find their way to your competitors’ websites. 

On the other hand, if the image is too small, it may be poor quality. Online shoppers generally won’t purchase a product if they aren’t confident in its ability to meet their needs. 

Photo quality plays a direct role in a customer’s ability to make these determinations with a virtual shopping experience.

Image optimization describes establishing the balance between protecting the integrity of a photo’s quality while reducing the size of the file. In addition, optimized images are easier for search engines to notice and rank. 

This means that your products may be viewed by potential customers when they search for your product by name or by type.

Why is it important to have great product images?

Your ecommerce store’s customers can’t physically interact with your products, so they look at everything from colors and materials to other traits in product images. In many cases, customers expect to see multiple photos that show the product from different vantage points.

If shoppers can’t determine that they would be satisfied with a specific product by looking at the photos and the product description, they’ll likely decide not to buy from your business. 

In this way, photo quality directly feeds into your sales numbers and bottom line and is something that you’ll need to prioritize for your ecommerce checklist.

How to optimize photos of your products

Optimizing your photos for quality, size, and search engine ranking requires careful planning and the implementation of a thoughtful strategy. The development of an effective strategy often requires the trial and analysis of various ideas. 

This list of the best practices for optimizing product photos and other images will help ensure that you’re on the right track. 

1. Understand the different types of files

The type of file selected for a product’s photo and for other website graphics has a significant effect on both image quality and file size. The three primary types of image files are JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Each is preferred for different purposes for a typical ecommerce store.

The JPEG file type can retain a relatively high-quality image with a smaller file size than other types. Because of this, JPEG files are often used for larger product photos. 

In fact, this is the most common type used for most images on ecommerce websites. However, the quality of an image saved as a JPEG can deteriorate as the file is re-saved numerous times.

GIF images, in contrast, are lower in quality than those created in the JPEG format. They’re commonly used for basic or smaller images, thumbnails, and icons. While they’re less common on ecommerce websites, animated graphics are usually GIF files.

The PNG format is often used as an alternative to both GIFs and JPEGs in a variety of situations. This format would be preferred over GIFs in some circumstances because of its superior quality. 

In addition, the quality of PNG images won’t deteriorate in the same way that those in the JPEG format do. The size of PNG files can unfortunately be problematic, but you can overcome this problem by choosing the PNG-8 format over PNG-24.

It’s clear that each file type has its benefits. For this reason, there isn’t one specific format that you should use exclusively throughout your site.

2. Name your files using descriptive, simple language

Your image’s file name is relevant to SEO. Images are often initially created with an obscure name that means nothing to search engines. 

Search engines crawl over websites’ photos as well as their text. By giving your files descriptive yet simply names, both site and image optimization are improved.

When your site’s images can be found through searches, you may benefit from increased traffic. In addition, other websites may link to your photos. Because of this, image optimization can play a role in SEO through backlinks.

3. Use the correct file size

Seconds matter when it comes to page loading times. Customer frustration will mount quickly, and search engine rankings will plummet if your pages take longer than a few seconds to show up. 

If you use Adobe Photoshop for image creation, you can take advantage of the “Save for Web” feature. This unique feature optimizes file size and quality for faster loading times and a superior online experience.

There are also several other programs that you can use image editing and optimizing. For example, Canva, PicMonkey, and PIXLR are a few of the options that you can take advantage of for this purpose.

How large should your ecommerce store’s product photos be? Generally, you should aim to keep file size at 70 kilobytes or smaller. Keep in mind that how fast a page loads is affected by the size of individual files and the number of images on the page.

4. Add appropriate alt attributes

Giving your website’s image files suitable alt attributes is among the leading steps that you can take to improve their visibility. An alt attribute is simply the text that describes an image. 

An image with a suitable alt attribute is more likely to be returned in Google searches for both images and websites.

When choosing the right descriptors to use for photos of your products, always start with a product ID or model number if it’s available. Then, stick with a simple description that sums up the image in a few words. For the best results, don’t stuff the alt attribute with an excessive number of keywords.

5. Choose the right angles for product photos

Best practice for product photography online usually involves capturing multiple shots of the product from different angles. Rather than giving each image a similar file name and alt text for each angle, opt to be more descriptive. 

Defining what’s in the photo and which angle or feature is shown can improve on-site and off-site SEO.

For example, instead of using file names like black_shirt1.jpg, black_shirt2.jpg, and black_shirt3.jpg, add more description. Optimized file names might include black-shirt_front.jpg, black_shirt_back.jpg and black_shirt_on_model.jpg. 

These same descriptors can be applied to each image’s alt attributes.

6. Be careful with image dimensions

You might be tempted to add lots of larger photos of your products to increase the chances of customers purchasing these items. 

However, note that you should avoid just putting the biggest image on the page and making its dimensions smaller through the source code. The larger file size will still be connected to the image, increasing page loading times.

You can instead create an image with smaller dimensions and allow customers to view it as a larger version in a new screen. It’s imperative that you include these kinds of photos to clearly show your customers the product detail that they need to see. 

This is particularly beneficial when you add a zoom feature to the larger images. Shoppers can then see the finer details that interest them.

7. Optimize your product thumbnails

Thumbnails play an important role in ecommerce website design because they give shoppers a broad look at the products they might be searching for. Thumbnails usually combine a relatively small, low-quality image with a short description of the item. 

The problem arises when you have so many thumbnails on a page that loading speed is affected.

Thumbnail images should generally be as small as possible without interfering with a customer’s shopping experience. It’s usually okay if the image is lower in quality as well. 

At the same time, thumbnails should give the shopper a realistic and clear look at what the product is. You may need to limit the number of thumbnails on each page to optimize page load times.

8. Utilize image sitemaps

While Google’s algorithms are increasingly sophisticated, its crawlers still rely on webpage source code to analyze sites. Your ecommerce store’s images will remain undetected if the crawlers can’t identify them. 

One of the more effective ways to ensure that Google’s crawlers see your photos and understand what the image files contain is to use an image sitemap. Google Search Central provides guidance on formatting image sitemaps.

An image sitemap essentially tells the crawlers where the images are located on your website. In your robots.txt file, you can indicate the path to your image sitemap by inserting http://yourwebsite.com/sitemap_location.xml. 

An alternative is to access the Google Search Console. Submitting your sitemap to Google in this way is free and direct.

You can create a complete sitemap or list each image with its own sitemap. For enhanced optimization, ensure that all images are marked up using alt attributes and feature a suitable file name.

9. Be strategic with your use of decorative images

Website design directly affects page load times and the customer experience. Creating an online store with beautiful aesthetics is essential for delivering a positive experience for all visitors. However, too many design elements can slow down the site’s loading speed. 

Consider that decorative images can be used for everything from borders and buttons to background images and more in a typical website’s design. Even when all of your product images are optimized, the size of these decorative images can weigh down your site.

To increase your ecommerce site’s speed, you’ll therefore want to be careful with the kinds of images that you add.

With the right template, you can create a site that has stunning aesthetics with minimal decorative images. For borders, background patterns, and other simple images, choose either the GIF or PNG-8 format. 

Some wallpaper-type backgrounds can have large image files, so these files should receive special attention as you optimize your website. An alternative to using background images is to add areas with solid colors through your CSS code.

10. Be mindful if using content delivery networks

One of the more common methods used to improve page loading speeds for a graphics-heavy site is to host the images on a content delivery network. 

Content delivery networks have their own domain, and they can host images, videos, and all other types of media files. The result is a dramatic improvement to page load times, but there is a drawback.

One of the many sources of backlinks is other websites linking to images on your website. Remember that backlinks directly affect how relevant your site appears to be to search engines. 

Because content delivery networks host the images on their own domain, backlinks are actually created for that domain rather than your own.

There’s unfortunately not a happy midway point in this area. You’ll need to decide if backlinks or fast loading speeds are more relevant to your website. 

Note that fast speeds are more important to a very busy site that may have bandwidth issues. Furthermore, as stated earlier, image linking is just one of multiple ways to obtain backlinks for your website!

11. Test your product images

How can you determine which strategies for optimizing images are working for your website? The primary purpose of image optimization is to bolster your bottom line. 

This means that the images must be appealing to customers and beneficial to their decision-making process. At the same time, the images must not unnecessarily weigh down the site and create slow page load times.

The most effective way to determine which strategies work best for your business is to test them. You can easily adjust image sizes and file types. 

Another testing strategy is to adjust the number of images on a page. You could also obtain direct feedback from your store’s visitors through a survey. Remember that each testing strategy should be used independently so that you can clearly see the difference that various techniques make.

Conclusion

Product images will continue to play an essential role in the experience of online shoppers, but their impact can be both positive and negative. Your store’s visitors need to see your products clearly, in detail, and from various angles to feel confident about buying from you. 

The overall impact of decorative images can enhance aesthetics, which are an important component of a great online experience. However, when the image files are too large, slow loading times create frustration for online shoppers. 

With this knowledge, you should always aim to publish impressive images with manageable file sizes and load speeds. Keep in mind that properly optimizing images often requires trial and error because of how many complex factors must be considered. 

Fortunately, when you create your online store with WiziShop, we take care of optimizing your images for you! 

You won’t have to worry about a thing. You’ll be able to sign up on the English version of our platform soon, so get ready to start building your ecommerce empire.

Be sure to visit our homepage and provide your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!

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