Google just rolled out their Speed Update, which considers how quickly your website loads on mobile devices to determine the site’s ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Although Google claims that “very few” websites will be negatively affected, it’s pretty clear that the affected sites will mostly be small business sites that don’t have the resources to stay up-to-date with all the latest best practices around speed optimization and implement them.
One of the biggest factors affecting site speed is the use of images – specifically, the use of large, uncompressed images.
Optimizing images to reduce file size can yield some of the biggest performance improvements on a website – and therefore improve your SERP ranking.
WHAT TO DO
While there’s no one best way to compress images, there are some basic things you can do that will have a huge impact.
· Only use images if they’re necessary or will add significantly to your messaging and/or the user experience. Each additional image used will slow down the site.
· Use web fonts instead of images to depict text.
· Select the right format:
o GIF for animated images
o PNG for images with fine details that need high resolution or those with a transparent background (use judiciously – these are large files)
o JPEG for photos, screenshots or similar images
· Use an image compression tool to optimize images before adding them to your website. Choose one that strips out unnecessary image metadata, like location, camera settings, date, etc.
· Images are generally good candidates for “lossy” compression, whereas logos usually benefit from “lossless” compression.
· Don’t be afraid to dial down the “quality” settings – even at lower quality levels, images usually look very good online and you’ll save a lot of bytes.
· Scale each image to the display size before uploading it (e.g., if it’s shown at 400x600px, save it at that size before adding it to the site). Don’t put a full-size, high-resolution image on your website and then have the site scale it down when it’s displayed!
As a general guideline, maximum image size should not exceed 300kb (and that’s a big file! - most should be under 100kb). I often see websites with 1 MB images – that’s waaaay too large!.
I use a utility on my desktop called ImageOptim to compress images after I’ve cropped, scaled and optimized them in Photoshop. It’s only for Mac users but there are some options that work on Windows (or the web). Choose the one you like best and use it before uploading images to your website. Every. Single. Time.
This Quick Read first appeared in the July 2018 GROWth Report newsletter. Want to stay up to date? Subscribe below!