Author: AJ Saunders, Founder of Audacious Commerce
Images are just as important as the copy on your product pages. Sadly, few ecommerce founders truly understand how to get the most from their photographs. Image can help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX).
Thankfully, Carrington is letting me share some of my best ecommerce image optimization tips to ensure your photos not only drive more visitors but also convert them into paying customers.
None of my tips will be revolutionary. However, if you apply them all, you should see a nice bump in website visitor numbers and more importantly, a small revenue increase!
Why you need an image strategy and how to create one
Before we jump into tactics, it's best for us to take a look from above. Good strategy is about having a solid plan that helps you achieve your goals. In this case, we need to plan what/how/why we'll use images in our store.
Your image strategy doesn't need to be long, boring, or complex. It does need to be actionable, measurable, and easily updated. It is, after all, a working document that's never quite finished.
Let's start with the why. Now, you might be thinking, AJ, this is obvious. We need product photos to share on social media, emails, and on our store's pages.
But there's a deeper reason behind why. Our photos and graphics need to take our potential customers on a journey of desire. We need to capture the visitor's attention and make them keep thinking about the product. An excellent photo coupled with an inspiring copy is the way to do this.
Next up is the how. Again, seems simple but is more complex than you might first think. You want a range of photos, including products on a white background, being used, and up close images.
Finally, the what, which deals with the practical aspect. Do you need images to be a certain size, so you can resize them for different situations? Do they need to be in a particular format?
By considering all of these different aspects, you can start to build a plan that will help you form your basic image strategy.
Where To Start With Image Optimization For Your Ecommerce Store
Before you do anything, have a plan! Again, it doesn't need to be long or complex. A short bullet-point list will be enough.
Also, don't go gun-ho and delete all of your current images. Other websites might already link to them, resulting in an SEO boost for your shop. Don’t worry, I have a fix for that later!
Start with a simple audit. Ask yourself:
What images haven't been updated in the last 12 months?
Which products have a high return rate?
Do you have products that people ask for more photos?
Are any product photos in the wrong size or format?
Do you feel you're missing any important images?
If you're used to carrying out an SEO audit, use a tool such as Screaming Frog to find any images that aren't properly optimized. But start by asking yourself basic questions.
6 Ecommerce Image Optimization Tips
Now for the good stuff! Here are my top ecommerce image optimization tips.
#1 File Name
By far the most common mistake I see is file naming. As search engines can’t understand images, they use other pieces of information, such as the file name and alt text for context. So naming your image 0127fc.png isn’t very helpful.
It’s much better to use 3 to 5 words to describe the image as the file name. For example, “blue Nike shoe” or “dark chocolate covered peanuts”.
One of the biggest mistakes I see when auditing ecommerce websites for SEO is they've uploaded massive images. We're talking 2000px by 2000px, meaning the image is around 5 Mb. Ideally, you want images on your store that are around 600 px by 600 px and under 100 Kb.
Of course, it's worth having massive images saved on your hard drive, but you should edit them down for your store.
The good news is that most ecommerce CMS (like WooCommerce and Shopify) take your images and resize them into multiple sizes, so they can use the best one for the slot.
For example, it makes no sense for Shopify to display your 600 px image in a box that's 50 px squared. As the system automatically resizes them, you speed up the page's loading time and keep visitors happy.
That said, the old rule applies: Garbage in = Garbage out. So ensure you start with well-formatted photos and graphics.
You should save photos as .jpg or .webp, and it's best to avoid .png as they typically create a larger file size.
#4 Different Viewpoints
You can no longer slap a single photo up of your product and rake in the millions! You need to show the product from all different angles and up close.
Ideally, you’d have images for the front of the product, the back, and the packaging. It’s also worth including one or two interesting shots of the product being used as well as close ups to show interesting details.
If you have the budget, 360 images are exciting to use and can help the customer see exactly what they’re buying and imagine using the item.
Think about how you can engage your visitors with enticing photos that fully show off your product. You'll never be able to completely replicate the feeling of having the product in your hands. However, with the right images, you can inspire people to purchase.
#5 Alt Text
You need to add alt text to every image. Here is a short explanation, if you're unsure what I'm talking about. Google, Bing, etc. use the alt text to understand the image. Also, so do text-to-speech readers, ensuring pages are accessible to the disabled.
Taking a few seconds to add alt text to each image can help you rank higher in the search results and also make your store easier to use by the visually impaired.
Some themes will allow you to add a caption to the image, which is usually displayed under the image on the front end. As with alt text, captions give the visitor and search engine more context. So if you can, use both captions and alt text.
Bonus tip! An SEO best practice is to use 301 redirects after deleting an old page to direct the visitor to a new page and avoid them hitting a 404 error.
You might not know that you can do it with images as well. If you're using Shopify, install a redirect plugin that makes the process very simple. With WooCommerce, you should be able to edit your htaccess file.
Small changes = Big SEO Boost!
While these ecommerce image optimization tips might seem like a lot of grunt work that will take weeks to complete, you should see a growth in the number of search impressions as you update your images.
That's not the only piece of good news! Yes, more search impressions will lead to more visitors and hopefully more sales. But beyond that, you should see fewer returns as your customers can fully view a product before buying and won't be surprised when they open the package.
It's worth remembering that good SEO is the combination of 100 tiny elements working in harmony. So, by tweaking several of these, you can boost your search traffic and revenue.
Building An Image Optimization Plan That Keeps You Moving
You should now have a better plan to optimize your ecommerce store's images and know what tactics to try. It's best to start with a plan and execute well rather than randomly try to adjust different elements and end up in an even greater mess.
Hopefully, you'll have fun applying these ecommerce image optimization tips and see an increase in revenue!
About the author
In the last decade, AJ Saunders has launched an eBook publishing company, a global ecommerce shop, and now runs Audacious Commerce, a strategy-first eCommerce growth agency. Outside digital marketing, AJ likes dogs, walking, and exploring country houses!