Image SEO: 6 Ways To Optimize Images for Faster Loading Speed

Optimize Images for Faster Loading Speed

Have you ever searched for a term on Google, found a promising result in the meta description, clicked on it, and then had to wait so long for the site to load? It can be frustrating, right?

Many site owners aren’t aware of this issue, but as an SEO specialist, you know the common issue: large, unoptimized images.

95.8% of people worldwide use mobile phones to access the internet, according to data from Statista. With more people browsing on their phones, fast-loading images are super important for keeping visitors happy and boosting your site’s search engine rankings.

Optimizing your site images for faster loading speeds can enhance your SEO efforts and user engagement. I have put together 6 effective image optimization techniques that can help you achieve this.

Common Issues Caused by Unoptimized Images

Here are some common issues caused by unoptimized images:

  • Longer loading times
  • Increased bandwidth usage
  • Poor mobile performance
  • Negative impact on SEO
  • Wasted storage space

Factors Affecting Image Load Speed

1. Image Formats

Image optimization involves reducing the file size of an image without compromising its quality. This ensures that images load faster and look great on both desktop and mobile devices.

It involves changing the image format, size, and resolution to match the device while keeping the quality high.

Different image file formats have different compression methods and characteristics which are:

  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – Suitable for photographs and images with many colours. Lossy compression.
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics) – Suitable for graphics, logos, and images with fewer colours. Lossless compression.
  • WebP (Web Picture) – The best image format for your website as recommended by Google, offers better compression than JPEG and PNG while maintaining quality. Supports both lossy and lossless compression. Also referred to as serving images in next-generation format.
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) – For vector graphics, logos, and icons. Maintains quality at any resolution.
  • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) – For simple graphics and animations. May not be the best format for animated videos, consider using WebM or MP4 videos.

Understanding the strengths of each image format helps you choose the one that best balances quality and file size.

If you are using a WordPress website specifically for blogging, use JPEG for photos, PNG for logos and icons, and WebP for superior compression and quality in both types of images.

2. Image Optimization Techniques

2 different compression techniques are;

  • Lossy Compression – Reduces file size by removing some image data, which may slightly reduce quality. It’s ideal for web use where slight quality loss is acceptable. Supported by lots of plugins and software.
  • Lossless Compression – No loss in quality, just that there’s a slight decrease in file size. It’s best for images where quality cannot be compromised.

Popular Image Optimization Tools and Plugins

  • WordPress: ShortPixel, Smush, EWWW Image Optimizer, Imagify
  • Shopify:, TinyIMG
  • Standalone Tools: TinyPNG, ImageOptim, Photoshop, WebP Converter, Cloudinary.

3. Image sizes

It takes a longer time for large images to load. Instead of uploading large images which may affect load speed. Otherwise, you can resize them by cropping out some unnecessary parts of the image.

Ways to Optimize Images for Faster Loading Speed

1. Compress Your Images

Making your image files smaller is a great way to speed up how quickly they load on websites. This process is called image compression.

Compression reduces the file size of your images without making them look blurry or pixelated. There are many free online tools that can compress images for you with just a few clicks.

Some popular options are TinyPNG, Squoosh, and

When compressing, it’s important to find the right balance. Too much compression can degrade the image quality and make it look overly blurry or blocky. But compressing moderately can simply reduce file sizes with little to no visible quality loss.

As a general rule, aim for compressed images that are around 70-80% of the size of the originals while still looking crisp and clear.

2. Use Descriptive Filenames

Giving your image files descriptive names is important for two main reasons: helping search engines understand the content, and providing a better user experience.

Search engines like Google use the filenames of images to figure out what the images contain. Using clear, descriptive names that accurately describe the image makes it easier for search engines to properly index and rank your images in relevant searches.

Take for instance, a filename like “nivea-men-dry-impact-deodorant.webp” is much better for SEO than something vague like “img937.jpg“.

Descriptive filenames also improve the user experience on your website or app. If an image fails to load for some reason, the user will at least see the descriptive filename, giving them some context about the missing content.

Clear names also help users better understand images before they load, especially for those using screen readers or low-bandwidth connections.

So take the time to rename your image files using short but descriptive names free of unnecessary numbers, dates, or codes. It will pay off in better search visibility and an improved experience for your users.

3. Optimize Alt Tags

Alt text provides a text-based description of an image’s content. It serves two main purposes:

  1. Accessibility for visually impaired users: People who are blind or have low vision rely on screen readers to verbalize web content. Proper alt text allows them to understand the content and purpose of images on a page.
  2. SEO and context when images can’t load: Search engines can’t actually “see” images, so they use the alt text to understand what the image portrays. Alt text also displays in web browsers if an image fails to load, providing some context.

When writing alt text, be descriptive but concise. Accurately convey the key content, objects, and purpose of the image in around 5-15 words. Using relevant keywords can help with SEO, but avoid keyword stuffing as that provides a poor user experience.

While alt text is important for accessibility and some SEO value, it shouldn’t be abused or contain excessive keywords just for ranking purposes. The main goal is to provide clear context about images for users who can’t see them.

For instance: Refer to the “Nivea Deodorant” Image shown above.

4. Reduce Image Size

Making image files smaller is good for improving your website’s speed and performance. Large, unoptimized images can really slow down load times, creating an unpleasant experience for your visitors.

No one likes waiting for slow-loading images, and it’s one of the main reasons a website might feel sluggish.

The good news is that there are plenty of user-friendly tools available to help shrink image file sizes with little to no loss in visual quality as mentioned above. This process, called image compression or optimization, is made easy with tools like TinyPNG, Squoosh, and Optimizilla.

These image compression tools work by reducing the amount of data in the image file through advanced algorithms. They can remove unnecessary metadata, optimize colour profiles, and apply other size-reducing techniques.

The best part is that you can visually inspect the compressed image to make sure it still looks sharp and clear.

As a general guideline, WordPress image sizes should not exceed 150KB, except for large photos. Regularly optimizing your images is a simple yet highly effective way to make your website load faster, giving your users a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

5. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a network of servers distributed around the globe. Its main purpose is to cache and serve static files (like images, CSS, JS) from the server geographically closest to the user.

Without a CDN, when someone visits your website their browser has to download all files from your origin server, which could be very far away. The further the files travel, the longer they take to load.

With a CDN, your image files get replicated across the CDN’s servers around the world. When a user visits, the CDN automatically serves the files from whichever node/server is nearest to them. This drastically reduces file travel distance and load times.

Let’s assume your server is in New York and a user is browsing from Canberra, the images would have to travel halfway around the world, leading to slow loading. But with a CDN, the images are cached on a server in or near Canberra for speedy delivery.

Using a CDN is especially beneficial for sites with an international audience or those with lots of media files like images and videos. Top CDN providers include Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, Google Cloud CDN, and others.

While not free, CDNs are very affordable for the major performance boost they provide. Implementing one is a simple yet powerful way to optimize global image delivery speeds.

6. Use Responsive Images

Responsive images automatically resize and adjust their file size based on the screen size of the device viewing them. This ensures that smaller images are loaded on mobile phones and tablets instead of downloading the full, heavy desktop versions.

Without responsive images, the same large image file is delivered to every device—desktop, tablet, and phone—resulting in slow load times for mobile users who have to download unnecessarily large image files not optimized for their smaller screens.

Responsive techniques serve different optimized versions of each image. For example, a large 2MB image for desktops, a 500KB version for tablets, and an even smaller 200KB file for smartphones. The right-sized variant is automatically loaded.

This smart image handling makes webpages much faster on mobile by reducing the amount of image data that needs transferring over cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Users get a faster experience without wasting their data plans on oversized images.

Setting up responsive images requires HTML code, but it’s well worth the effort. As mobile web traffic continues to grow, delivering an optimized mobile experience with fast-loading responsive images is crucial.

Rather than struggling with bloated pages bogged down by desktop-sized imagery, responsive images ensure a lean, performant mobile website that renders quickly on any device. It’s a win for you and your mobile visitors!

Measuring and Monitoring Image Performance

There are common tools for analyzing image performance. These tools include;

  • Google PageSpeed Insights: Provides insights on image performance and suggestions for improvement.
  • Lighthouse: A replica of Google Page Speed Insight but a Chrome extension that provides insights on image performance and offers suggestions for improvement.
  • GTmetrix: Analyzes load times and provides detailed reports on image optimization.
  • Other on-page SEO tools; Ubersuggests, AHrefs, and SEMrush can also help.

Analyzing image performance on your website has a strong impact on Core Web Vitals; LCP, FCP, and Total Page Size.

The below image is a case study of an analyzed website image using Lightspeed with recommendations.

Nivea product description tag


Optimized images equate to faster load times, better mobile experiences, swifter conversion, and improved search engine rankings. You really do not want to lose out on this, do you? Start optimizing your images now, and see your website become faster, more responsive, and more user-friendly.

Your visitors will enjoy a seamless browsing experience, and you will benefit from increased engagement and performance.


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