Why Size Matters For Your Images
Having images on your website makes a great user experience but search engines do not favour big images.
To rank well with Google (who provide the lion's share of search traffic on the internet) your number one priority must be put User eXperience (UX). If your audience are happy with what they get served on your webpage then the search engine has done its job.
However, to help serve the best websites for users to experience Google judges your website speed as a key feature of how good the content is that provides that great UX.
In 2010 Google announced that website speed was a ranking factor when serving search results. In 2018 the announcement came that mobile page speed is the ranking factor.
What does this mean?
Google has decided that internet users like websites with a great UX. They want to deliver the very best pages at the top of their search results page. The search model Google have developed is users put their questions into their search engine and the search engine delivers the websites in order that will give the best UX. It is assumed that the best UX answers the question and satisfies the user.
For webpage owners it is important to understand that Google makes a judgment on the UX of your website with a huge range of factors. One of the most important is how long it takes to load.
We all know how frustrating it can be to wait for slow pages to load. Our attention span and expectation is that pages should arrive almost instantly. If they take too long we go somewhere else.
When you click on a website and then click straight off again without doing anything you are 'bouncing'. Google determines that pages that have a high bounce rate have do not provide a good UX and so they push that page down the search rankings for the future users.
Why am I focussed on Google and not Bing and Yahoo? In 2019 research shows that 92.96% of searches are made via Google, Bing 2.34% and Yahoo 1.64%.
How to increase your UX
Adding images to your website is an excellent way of improving the UX. Illustrating your text with pictures reinforces your message, and images break up text making it easier to read.
As a side note, Backlinko analysed 1 million search engine results pages and determined "Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images." and in the same study "Fast-loading websites are significantly more likely to rank in Google."
Large companies know that speed matters. Pfizer, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, annually sets aside a large budget just to reduce the load times of their websites on mobiles.
You can check out the speed of your own website by clicking here.
So you need an image, but the trouble with images is that they slow your page down. It seems like an impossible mission. If only you could have images that are small in size and so only slow down your page a little bit.
Modern cameras create massive images. Even mobile phones create very big images that are usually plenty large enough for anything on the internet. You want your images to be given to you in a format that is ideal for online as well as perfect for print (which prefers big images).
So what is image size?
When we look at a photo online we might be looking at it on our mobile phone, tablet, desktop or even wide screen TV. Your webpage needs to serve the best image size for the device it is being viewed on.
Your web developer will be able to sort all of this out for you - but the image you get from your camera is way bigger than your widescreen TV ever needs. Not only that, your eyes cannot even discern the differences between really big and quite big, and even medium sized images when they are viewed online.
In digital terms the size of image means either the height and width of the picture (its dimensions), or most importantly, how compressed the picture is.
Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Google give you the ideal dimensions for your images. This is a great step towards reducing the load time of your webpage. Further compressing your images for online viewing makes another huge difference to image size and reduces load time even more.
A Professional Photographer Compresses
A professional personal branding photographer will deliver your images in both compressed large and compressed small versions. These are ideal for online as well as for print.
"The biggest cause of slow pages and low scores is large images. When I fixed this on my own site, I found a huge impact on speed. One of the top optimization techniques for fixing image size is compression. You can save an average of 50% or more on image size by using simple compression tools." Neil Patel, UN top 100 entrepreneur, web influencer
For use online jpg, png and gif images are quick and easy. Avoid bmp and tiff files like the plague...they are the black hole of image speed!
|Compressed Large jpg||Compressed Small jpg|
|Webpages - desktop and mobile |
Print (leaflets, brochures, magazines)
|Social media |
Profile and header images
Compressing the image means that it does not lose discernible quality but is much much smaller (up to 80% smaller).
If you have commissioned product or technical photography then you will be given the uncompressed files. These are massive but retain every bit of detail.
Interestingly, billboards and hoardings do not need that high a resolution image. The larger the print the greater the viewing distance will be. Hence, it sort of balances out.
For my personal brand clients all images are processed at uncompressed maximum resolution and then compressed using professional software to squeeze every bit of speed out of your images for you.