What Impact Do Images Have on Shopify Site Speed and SEO?

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As a Shopify merchant, you may already know that there’s much more to Shopify Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than using the Google Keyword Planner tool to find keywords and then incorporating them into your product descriptions.

Generating organic traffic from search engines isn’t just about keyword optimization and subsequent placement within your content; it’s also about optimizing other elements within your Shopify store. 

By optimizing your Shopify store’s images, for example, you could benefit from more organic traffic. Image optimization is one of the best things you can do to help search engine bots rank your products appropriately.

If you’re not sure where to start with image optimization, fear not. This post will explain everything you need to know, including how optimizing your images can make all the difference when it comes to making or breaking a sale. And, there’s no need to worry about how time-consuming image optimization is likely to be - we’ll explain how you can optimize your Shopify store images automatically and quickly using the TinyIMG app.

An overview of Shopify SEO

SEO is by far the best way to get your Shopify store in front of your target audience, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s completely free. You don’t have to spend any money on improving your store’s SEO structure. Secondly, it really works - as long as you know how to do it properly!

According to moz.com, search engines are the driving force behind online traffic, compared to social media and paid advertising platforms. In fact, SEO provides 20 times more traffic opportunity than pay-per-click advertising on both desktop and mobile. 

So what does this mean for you? Put simply, the success of your Shopify store largely hinges on how well your products are ranking in search engines. As well as making sure you’re including the right keywords within your content, page titles, and descriptions, you should also be focusing on image optimization too. 

What will happen if you don’t optimize your images?

Your page loading times will slow down

Heavyweight images that are large in size will result in a slow-loading website. The probability of someone navigating any from a website (bounce rate) increases by 32% as page load time goes from just 1 second to 3 seconds. 

A 1-second delay leads to a 7% reduction in conversions, according to these stats from MachMetrics. Slow page loading times also have a direct impact on revenue too - 1 in 5 shoppers will abandon their cart if the transaction process is too slow.

You’ll miss out on SEO opportunities

Search engine bots are constantly crawling and indexing websites looking for information to help them decide where to place webpages when returning search results. Images are one of the elements that search engines look at when determining what your products are about.

If your images don’t have an SEO structure - that’s the process of giving your images a relevant filename and alt tag (we’ll come onto these shortly!) - they’ll be of no consequence to search engine bots and therefore won’t serve to improve your Shopify SEO efforts.

You’ll be limiting website accessibility

Image optimization is primarily about accessibility and making sure that your visual content is available to all web visitors. People who are visually impaired rely on proper image optimization to help them learn what an image is about. 

The same goes for web visitors who are struggling to load your images - it’s helpful for them to see a description of your images if they can’t see the actual images themselves.

Here’s how to optimize your images for Shopify

Now that you know the reasons why image optimization is important for your Shopify store, there are two things you can do to start making your images work in your favor.

1. Assign relevant information to your images to boost SEO

When you upload an image to your Shopify store, you’ll get the chance to include some textual information to go with it, in the form of image filenames and alt tags. These both play an important role in image SEO, as follows:

Image filenames

If you take a picture with your camera, you’ll probably find that your image has automatically been given a numerical filename, like IMG5687.jpg. Rather than keeping this generic name, it’s best to rename your image to something more relevant. 

For example, for this image below, you could name the file to something like “kamila-aubre-ella-lil-perfume.jpg”. Naming your images appropriately can help search engine bots to determine the subject of your image.

JAHCZPDE66vdEgtJYCz3BezkWqIGurWAHEIs8MNEJGuPBJvOPoqEYRZAy-hzMrzWvJlP_-zzWUreWAjX619Me2ikqFR92xyqtGMiTkYJb6Sert2wlHJGYBKMUZTlF38Xd6riCXlr

Source: Photo by Kamila Aubre on Unsplash

Image alt tags

An alt tag (also called alt text) is something that’s shown in place of the image if for some reason it can’t be viewed. Good alt text should be as descriptive as possible, not too long (as some screen readers used by visually impaired visitors cut off alt text at 125 characters) and should also include one of your keywords to help with SEO.

Let’s say you’re selling a range of personalized fountain pens with blue ink and your target keyword is “personalized fountain pen”. Your product photo could have an alt tag like “Pink personalized fountain pen with 3 blue refillable ink cartridges”. It’s descriptive, not too long and contains the keyword.

Here’s how this alt tag would actually look within HTML code:

<img src="personalized-fountain-pen" alt="Pink personalized fountain pen with 3 blue refillable ink cartridges">

You may also want to include your product ID within the alt tag too. But don’t overstuff your alt tag with keywords - this practice is frowned upon by search engines and could look “spammy”, resulting in lower rankings for your store.

Title tags

Title tags are another image attribute. These don’t do much in the way of SEO, but they are useful for explaining what an image is about and can help with accessibility if you’re experiencing an image display problem. The title tag appears when you hover over an image with your mouse cursor.

2. Reduce the size of your image files

To make sure your product, homepage or blog article images aren’t clogging up your Shopify website, it’s important to reduce the size of them as much as possible. The great thing about web images is that they don’t need to be as high quality as those required for a printed publication. You can reduce your images by around 70% without virtually any quality loss!

Automatic image optimization for Shopify stores

Manually optimizing your images is perfectly possible, although a very time-consuming task. As a busy merchant, it’s worth considering a Shopify app that automatically optimizes all of your images for you. 

With TinyIMG, you can reduce your image sizes by as much as three-quarters and any changes in quality will hardly be detectable to the human eye. TinyIMG does this automatically for your existing images and any new ones that you upload.

TinyIMG also generates filenames and alt tags for all your images so you don’t even have to think about them. What’s more, this app will be compatible with WebP, as soon as Shopify introduces this new feature to the platform. 

WebP is an image format developed by Google and is around 30% smaller than comparable jpg files. Both Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants will be able to use WebP when it becomes available on Shopify. The developers of TinyIMG are giving all users the opportunity to convert any images that have already been optimized with the app to WebP free of charge.

Image optimization: a crucial part of your Shopify SEO strategy

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on image SEO and the detrimental impact that large, unoptimized images can have on your Shopify website. The good news is that you can start improving your website speed and SEO efforts today - and get the job done in no time, if you decide to use an intelligent image optimization tool like TinyIMG.


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