Creating images for your blog and/or website can be fun if you are the creative type. It can also be daunting and overwhelming if you are not. But, creating your images is only part of the process.
Follow these steps for great, optimized (for the web) images
Before and after you create your images, there are steps you should take to ensure the image loads quickly and the search engines can find your image. By following the steps below for all your images, you will actually raise your search rankings. These steps are as important as knowing the correct keyword phrases for your content.
1. Use an image you have permission to use. Either one you created from scratch or one you have the rights to use. Too many bloggers inadvertently steal someone else’s image(s) off the web without having permission to do so. Usually it is because they don’t know better but this can be costly if the owner of the image finds out you are making money and using their images.
The way to get around this is to either use one of your own images or use a stock image from a reputable site. Stock images have come a long way and you can usually a find good quality image at low cost or free.
Even when using stock images, always make sure you have permission to use the image before you use it as your own. Read the copyright license or the terms and agreements. And be sure to give credit where credit is due. If someone gives you permission to use their image, be sure to add their name to the image or mention them in the post. (You don’t need to do this if you have purchased the license or if you have downloaded it from a free site that gives you permission to use the image as your own.)
2. No matter if you are using your own image or a stock photo, I always recommend saving a copy of the image before playing around with it. That way, if you screw it up (hey, it happens!), you can go back to the original and start over.
When saving the file, save it as either a .jpg or .png file unless it will have animation, then save it as a .gif file.
JPG files (.jpg) are best for photographs and images with a lot of colors and detail and that do not have a transparent background.
PNG files (.png) are awesome for detailed images but they keep a lot more information with them after compressing them therefore, they tend to be larger in size. Which is why .jpg will usually suffice for detailed images.
However, if you have areas of your image that are transparent, it needs to be saved as a .png because .jpg doesn’t support transparent backgrounds.
3. When saving the copy, name the image what it is and use your keyword(s) phrases.
4. Using photo editing software, scale the image resolution back to 72ppi. This is all that is needed to view the image in high quality on the internet. Most cameras now take pictures at a very high resolution which is needed for printing but not for viewing on the computer screen.
Note: if you are using compression software (see step 8) that also reduces the resolution, you can skip this step.
5. Resize the dimensions of the copied image to the maximum size it needs to be on the site or blog post in which it will be placed. Most cameras now give us the ability to print in poster size. Even cameras that are a few years old produce pictures that could easily be printed on 8×10 paper.
When using images on our websites, it is only in rare (very rare) cases that the image needs to be any larger than 3×5 which works out to approximately 216px by 340px.
6. Add any changes and/or text you wish to add to make.
7. Add your own logo and/or a watermark to the copied and newly named image if it is yours. You don’t want someone stealing your image and making money off of it.
If it isn’t yours, and if it is feasible, add text for to give the image appropriate credit. It doesn’t have to be big or take up the whole image. Something in the corner will often suffice. If there is no room on the image, you can add credit in the blog post or in the caption later.
8. When you’ve made all the changes you wish to make and have added your logo or given credit, compress the image for the web. Even after lowering the resolution, there is information inside the image that you cannot see called meta data. Compressing the image will toss out any meta data that is not needed and therefore reduce its size even more.
Note: with some compression tools, you can downsize the resolution and compress it in one step. If your compression software does this, you can skip step 4 above.
9. Save the image to your system and upload to your site.
Note: if your image is complex or takes a long time to create, you should be saving as you go.
10. Finally, after uploading the image, be sure to use the alt-tag and description to describe the image using well-worded text and keywords.
That’s it! Ten quick, easy steps to uploading images that are optimized and won’t bog your site down. Sign up to download the Image Preparation Cheatsheet and keep it handy when adding images to your site. And, stay tuned for an exciting three day challenge coming up SOON. (It’ll be FUN!!)