How to improve image SEO for Shopify stores

Image optimization involves compressing your images to make them smaller in size. It’s good practice to do this for each image within your Shopify store, as the more lightweight your images are, the faster your webpages will load, making the browsing experience better for your visitors. 

Site speed can drastically affect your conversion rate - even a one-second delay can result in a 7% decrease in conversions. Speeding up your site will not only increase customer satisfaction but will boost your chances of extra sales too. 

Image optimization isn’t only about image compression, however. It’s also about image SEO - getting your images seen by search engines to help increase organic traffic to your store. In this article, you’ll learn all about image SEO, how search engines look at your images, and what action you’ll need to take to make sure your images are helping to facilitate business growth.

You’ll also find out about an intelligent image optimization tool called TinyIMG which has been designed especially for Shopify stores. It’s an app that can automatically compress your images and generate an SEO structure for them, saving you heaps of time while helping to boost your SEO efforts.

First though, let’s look at how search engines deal with images...

Images rank in search engine results too

See the Google screenshot below. The search term used to return these results was “peel and stick wallpaper”. You can see that Google displays images relating to this search term along with other text-based results.

Search engine bots crawl the images on your Shopify site, looking for certain attributes (namely alt tags and image filenames) to help them decode the subject of your images. By assigning each of your images with relevant alt tags and filenames, you can increase your chances of them being found by search engines.

Image alt tags and filenames

An alt tag, also known as alt text, is the alternative text attribute of an image tag. Primarily, the purpose of alt tags is to help visually impaired web users understand what an image is about. Such users may employ a screen reader to “read” the alt text of an image where it’s then relayed as speech output or as Braille. Alt tags are also displayed if a web browser fails to render an image for some reason.

Image filenames are simply the name that you assign to your image when saving it. Another image attribute you may come across is a “title tag”. Title tags appear as a label upon hovering over an image - they provide a way to display additional information. While title tags don’t have much of an impact when it comes to image SEO, both alt tags and filenames do.

Generating image alt tags and filenames for Shopify

There are a few points to consider when writing alt tags for your images. Firstly, they should be reasonably short; no longer than 125 characters (as some screen readers cut off alt text longer than this). Secondly, they should sum up the content of your image as accurately as possible. Finally, they should include a keyword or two that you want to rank for in search results.

As for image filenames, rather than leaving your images with the name your camera uses as a default, e.g. IMG_25815_5151.jpg, these should be nice and short and explain the content of your image.

*Image by pratikshawave from Pixabay 

Taking the above image as an example, a good image filename and alt tag might look like this:

<img src=“brand X red high heeled shoe.jpg” alt=“brand X red high heel shoes for ladies size 6”>

What it’s not a good idea to do is stuff your alt tags with several keywords. Search engines frown on this practice and you may end up being penalized in terms of rankings if your images look “spammy” to search engine bots.

Automated image optimization

This article explains exactly how to add alt text to your product images in Shopify and here’s how to add alt text to your theme images.

As you can imagine, going through all of your images manually to add alt text and rename them if necessary is going to be a time-consuming process. If you don’t have the time or patience to carry out image SEO manually, it’s worth knowing that you can automate this process with a Shopify app.

TinyIMG not only generates alt tags and image filenames automatically, the app also reduces the size of your images too - by as much as 85-90% if you convert your images to WebP format afterward with the app’s built-in WebP converter. 

TinyIMG searches for product and collection images within your Shopify store, then downloads them from Shopify to optimize them. You simply select whether you want standard or advanced image reduction and leave TinyIMG to work through your image files, optimizing each one. After completing this process, TinyIMG uploads the optimized images back to your store. You can optimize any other Shopify images (e.g. banner and blog images) manually with TinyIMG. 

Top takeaway

While certain image attributes, such as alt tags, are designed for accessibility purposes, they can also positively contribute to SEO. To ensure search engines know what your store’s images are about, it’s good practice to give all of your images an appropriate alt tag and filename. Done correctly, image SEO can help drive more organic traffic to your Shopify store.

Both image SEO and image compression are important for image optimization on Shopify. To make sure your images are performing at their best, check out this helpful Shopify article for more must-know tips.

Other TinyIMG features include best image file format analysis and a 30-day backup in case you want to restore your images to their original state. No technical expertise is needed and you can get going in just in a few clicks.