First, a HUGE thank you to all the artists who participated in the 1-on-1 art career coaching sessions – we sold out within three days of launching our newest opportunity for artists! It was a whirlwind of a week, but I enjoyed talking with the artists who signed up immensely – you’re off to bigger and better things and I can’t wait to see how you flourish within this next year!
In my free digital portfolio reviews, I did as part of my consultations, the main thing I noticed was artists were not utilizing the best SEO practices on their website, which is a MAJOR lost opportunity to generate free and organic traffic to your website to attract and connect with new customers.
So, I thought it would be best to put together a blog on six easy tips to optimize your images for SEO.
First, let’s start with what SEO means. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s the process of getting traffic from organic search results on search engines like Google. Essentially, search engines work by pulling text content related to your search term from all over the web such as websites, Google Images, social media profiles, Wikipedia and so on.
But how do artists tap into this if their websites are predominately images? I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s called image optimization.
What is SEO for artists all about anyway? It’s about creating relevant content within your images so Google can appropriately identify them, so you populate Google with images of you and your artwork when someone searches your name or keywords about your artwork.
6 Tips to Optimize Your Images for SEO
1. Use the BEST image you have and edit edit EDIT
Make sure the images you’re using are of good quality and are representative of your work. This statement might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many artists just snap an image of their work, crop, upload and call it a day. The benefit of having a high-quality image is twofold.
The first, images that are a true representation of your artwork are critical to an art buyer’s decision-making process, especially to interior designers who are usually selecting for color. The second, the more high-quality images you have, the better the experience for users on your website and the better your odds are of ranking on relevant searches.
How to correctly photograph your artwork
"One of the best ways to determine whether the camera captured the picture perfectly is holding the artwork up next to the computer. Do the colors match? Are the whites the same color white on the screen as they are in the artwork? Are colors as saturated on screen as they are in real life? Is the picture too dark or overexposed? All of this can be adjusted in a photo editing software program." – How to Photograph Your Artwork So It Stands Out, ADC Blog
2. Choose the right file format for your image and website
After you’ve selected and edited the image of your artwork, you need to decide which file format is best for your needs. With so many file formats available, it can be hard to decipher which is best for photo optimization on your website. There are two common raster image formats (think pixel-based) you need to be aware of: JPEG and PNG.
- JPEG you are probably already familiar with as it’s the most commonly used image format today and is usually set to the default saving preference on image editing software. But what is it really? A JPEG uses lossy compression; which means that the data in the image is compressed and the image quality can suffer depending on your settings. There is also no support for transparent backgrounds like there is with a PNG format. The advantages of saving your images in a JPEG format is it keeps file sizes small and it is supported almost on every website and social platform.
- PNG is a modern alternative to JPEG file format. Unlike the JPEG file, a PNG file supports transparency and has a better color range. PNG files are often used for logos as the image appears small, yet the resolution is still high quality. Bonus: as you continue to resave your images, PNG files won’t degrade.
3. Optimize size for website images
When optimizing your images for your website, you want to use an optimal file size (reduce the file size as much as possible) without losing the image’s quality (think color quality and clarity). You don’t want to use large file sizes because this is the main cause of slow loading times on websites. We live in an instant gratification type of world. If your website is slow to load or show images, chances are the viewer and your potential client have already moved on to another artist’s website.
The overall size of your image should not be much larger than you need it to be. Example - Is your blog 800 pixels wide? Resize your image to 800 pixels wide.
Within Photoshop, you can resize the image before saving it, making the file size more appropriate for user experience. One of the best ways you can reduce the file size without affecting quality is within Adobe Photoshop’s “Save for Web” function. If you don’t have Photoshop there are many free online resources that will compress your files such as Compress Jpeg, TinyPNG, or PicMonkey.
4. Use informative file names
An image’s SEO begins long before you ever even upload the image to your website. An image file name is the most basic description that is searchable. Anytime you upload an image of your artwork to your website, the file name that’s with it is also associated. So, here’s how to make them count and to help search engines, like Google, associate an image with your artist name.
Typically, when you’re using an image you took on your iPhone or downloaded from your camera, the file name is made up of letters and numbers like “DSC_4685” or something similar. This is meaningless to search engines and will rank extremely low in search results.
Change the file name from the default to a new name that’s more descriptive of your work and your artist name (example below) to help the search engines understand your image and improve your SEO value.
Helpful file naming tips:
- Don’t run the words altogether or include any spaces in the file name.
- The best separators to use when naming an image file are hyphens between the words.
- Don’t jam-pack the file name with a bunch of keywords. You want each image to make sense individually.
Take a look at this image from our metal artist Ken Rausch and see below for examples of good and bad file names.
Good file name examples:
Bad file name examples:
Metal wall sculpture.jpg
5. Include alternative “alt” text in images
This step to optimizing images of your artwork for search engines is SO IMPORTANT but often overlooked by artists when uploading content to websites. Alternative or “alt” text is another way to describe your image to search engines. You want to make sure that all other optimization areas are in place, but if the image fails to load for any reason, users will see what the image is supposed to be. Plus, adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website can help your website achieve better rankings in the search engines by associating keywords with images.
6. Social media and SEO
You know we love to talk about social media around here, and you might think there’s no place for it in this blog, but you’d be surprised. Social media plays an important role in your overall SEO strategy. Your current profile picture is the most likely to appear in Google Image search results, so you want to make sure to include your name in the file name before uploading the image along with any other cover photos.
Even though Pinterest isn’t technically a social media platform (it’s really a search engine), I’ll still slip this morsel of info here in this section. Since Pinterest is a high-authority website, images that are uploaded to this rank very high in internal (within Pinterest itself) and external (Google Image) searches. So, every week or so upload a view photo of your work and yourself to a pinboard. To encourage your website visitors to share images to Pinterest add a simple “Pin It” button to each image. Different websites have different plugins, so research which is the best for you.
There you have it! Six easy steps to boosting your artworks’ rankings in search engines results. While it may take some time to update your images on the website, image optimization is a FREE way to increase traffic to your website and attract new buyers. Keep in mind that SEO is a long-play game, you won’t see immediate results, but give it a couple of weeks or a month and you’ll see significant improvements in your search results.
Have questions? Let us know by commenting below!