The SEO for Freelancers Guide: Part Five
You may think your images don’t matter for SEO if you’re not a photographer with galleries full of photographs, but images are one of the most underutilized opportunities for boosting your SEO.
Most people skip optimizing their images because they think it’s hard and a lot of work, but it’s not. It’s really simple and takes just a few minutes for each page or blog post. And since you’ll be one of the few freelancers doing it correctly, you’ll have the advantage over all your competition, SEO-wise.
Pick a page on your website and follow along with this process.
Use the Right Image
While Google can’t see images, your website visitors most definitely can. Using relevant images will help your human visitors engage with your content. Find images that make the most sense and use them throughout your website in a way that naturally breaks up the blocks of text and draws your reader in.
Whenever possible, use original photos. This is a lot easier if you’re a photographer than if you’re a writer or a virtual assistant.
If you need to use stock images, that’s okay too, but be sure to spend a little time finding the most relevant images. It might feel like a waste of time right now but when someone loves your content because you have absolutely the right image to make your point, it’s worth the investment of a few minutes of your time.
Using stock images doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or any money at all. There are several great free stock image websites but our favorites are:
As a side note, make sure any image you use on your professional website is licensed for use, even commercially. The last thing you want is the copyright owner coming after you for image misuse.
Optimize for the Web
As we’re sure you remember from The SEO for Freelancers Guide: Part Two, having a website that loads too slowly will cost you website visitors and the bounce rate will impact your SEO. One of the most common reasons a website loads too slowly is that your images are too big.
This is an easy fix, as all you need to do is compress your images. You can do them one by one using a website like TinyJPG or you can install a WordPress plugin like Smush. It doesn’t matter which system for compressing your images you use as long as you do it consistently.
You can and should use a tool like Pingdom to check your page load speed before and after you compress all your images. If your website is image-heavy, the speed boost will be really satisfying.
Use Descriptive File Names
You know how your computer and most stock image sites automatically name images “IMG748569” or “arnel-hasanovic-MNd-Rka1o0Q-unsplash.jpg”? Yea, that’s terrible for SEO.
Rename every image you put on your website with a descriptive image name. Ideally, you’d do this before uploading them to your website but if you forgot, you can always do it in the WordPress backend.
Go to your Dashboard and select Media and then Library. Click on the image you’d like to rename.
This is a good time to consult your SEO keyword list and see if you can integrate one of your keywords into your image title in a natural way.
For example, this image could be “professional freelancer writer desk”, which is obviously a lie because my desk looks nothing like that. However, it would be a good descriptive name using the keyword “professional freelance writer.”
Optimize Your Alt Text and Descriptions
Now that you’ve optimized your image title using one (or two!) of your keywords, it’s time to do the same for your Alt Text and Descriptions.
Do not keyword stuff!!
Use a keyword or two to write a natural Alt Text and Description. Remember that your Alt Text will show up on screens when your image cannot be displayed, so feel free to be descriptive, but not too extra.
Your Description will be read by a screen reader to anyone who is visually impaired, so write it for that audience as well.
Try to use different keywords for your Alt Text and Description whenever possible.
In this example, the Alt Text could be “the freelance writing process involves a productive workspace, and generally a computer or several notebooks.” **
The description could be “freelance writer essentials include a productive workspace, where you can focus.” **
(** These are not amazing Alt Text and Description options, which really reinforces the importance of choosing the right image for your post, not just one that’s pretty. I’m keeping this example as is to reinforce this point instead of fixing it and making it all pretty and perfect and easy-looking.)
Leverage Social Media
Whether you like it or not, social media is now part of SEO and how your website visitors will find you. One of the easiest things you can do to encourage visibility is to add social media sharing buttons to your website.
You can also encourage your website visitors to share your images to Pinterest by adding a simple “Pin it” button to each image. If you’re a professional photographer or designer, you may not want to do this or may want to heavily watermark your images before doing it.
A simple way to encourage your images to be shared across social media platforms is by using a tool like SumoMe’s ImageSharer, which has both free and paid versions.
And that’s it! Now it’s time to do all the rest of the pages on your website and all your blog posts. It may sound overwhelming but if you put aside just a 15-30 minutes a day to do a page or two at a time, you’ll get through your entire site before you know it. And your SEO will thank you for it!