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You’ve taken the time to make your website as user-friendly as possible. You’ve written great content, and you’ve found just the right image to back up that content (see above).

But, are you getting credit from the search engines for those images?

When humans look at a web page, they see everything; words, images, videos. Search engines, however, just see code. Lines and lines of text, like a scene from “The Matrix.”

The search engines can see that there’s an image on the page, but they don’t know if the image is adding any value to the page. They don’t know if they should be giving your site extra credit for the extra work you did to find the perfect image.

To get this credit, you need to optimize your images for SEO. You need to make it very clear to the search engines that your images are adding value for your readers. And it’s easy to do.

Here are four ways to increase your SEO by optimizing your images:

1. Start with the Save

The SEO value of the images on your site starts before you even upload the image. You can begin building SEO value the minute you save an image to your computer. This means not saving your images with names like “image24vshrio.jpg.”

To boost your image’s SEO value, chose keyword rich descriptions when you save images like “mens_baseball_cap.” Don’t go overboard with the words you chose, just shoot for something descriptive and accurate.

(*Note: there’s great debate over whether you should separate words with an underscore or a hyphen, or even spaces. Don’t sweat this; any format will work. But it’s worth noting that Google uses underscores.)

2. Name the Alternate

Alt Text, or alternative text, are the words someone would see if they can’t see your image. Have you ever received a newsletter or email that required you to click to see the images? Before you clicked to view the image, there may (or may not) have been words inside the image box. These words are the Alt Text.

Alt text is simply another way to identify what the image is about. And it’s another way you prove to search engines that the image is worthwhile and worth ranking.

Most blogging platforms allow you to write the Alt Text when you upload the image to your media file. Get in the habit of filling out that line.

3. Size Matters

Size matters when it comes to your images and how they help your rankings with search engines. In this case, too big is bad. If your images are oversized, they will slow the load time of page. Slow load times means low rankings.

The average person will wait only a few seconds for a page to load before they simply move on to the next page. (This raises your bounce rate…also bad.) Search engines are just as impatient as readers.

You can check the speed of your site here: http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

If your page is slow to load, your images are probably to blame. Resize and upload again, pronto!

4. Find the Format

Lastly, be sure you’ve chosen the best format for the type of image you’re uploading.

The format you chose (.jpg .png .tiff. .gif) will affect how cleanly the image appears online.

Here are Google’s suggestions for formats:

– GIF: Best for very small graphics such as small icons (10 x 10 pixel max)

– PNG: Best for all type-based images such as logos

– JPG: Best for photographs

– TIFF: Google suggests not using TIFFs at all

Don’t worry if your site has been around for a while, and you haven’t been optimizing your images properly. Start making each of these tips a habit with each new image you upload.