May 21st, 2019 | Updated on May 23rd, 2020
We live in a digital age, but building a successful eCommerce business is no walk in the park.
With the availability of seemingly endless products online, shoppers are pickier than ever. This means your site needs to make it as simple as possible for visitors to become paying customers.
Even with a modern business strategy and top-notch web development, you still need to recreate the experience of shopping in a real, brick-and-mortar store. That’s where images come in.
Finding the right images for your eCommerce website is a crucial piece of your marketing and user experience strategy, but there’s a catch.
If you simply search for images of products online, the results will probably yield competing websites.
The question remains, then: how do you get your hands on quality product images – and once you have them, how do you optimize them for success?
Find Manufacturer Images
If you’re a product vendor (a third-party eCommerce company), your first option is to get product images straight from the source: the manufacturer.
Manufacturer images are a good option because, unlike using the images of competitors’ products, manufacturer images benefit both you and the manufacturer – at the end of the day, the manufacturer wants you to sell more of their product.
One of the best ways they can do this is by giving you, the vendor, as much information about the product as possible. With that information, you can create a landing page that truly sells the product and converts website visits into revenue.
There are two ways to accomplish this. First, you may be able to find images on the manufacturer website and save digital copies. A second option is obtaining a hard-copy of the manufacturer catalog and scanning images into a digital format.
Take Your Own Pictures (And Edit Them)
If you’re unable to get free pictures from the manufacturer, pick up a camera and take the pictures yourself. If capturing your own images sounds daunting, don’t worry – there are user-friendly free photo editing software you can download or use directly in your browser.
The key is taking the time to actually edit your images. Even the most seasoned photographer runs pictures through some kind of post-processing. You should too. The best part is you don’t have to be a Lightroom or Photoshop expert to make product pictures look great.
How to Optimize Product Images on an eCommerce Website
1. Use Plain, Descriptive Image Titles
Naming your images might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually quite tempting to upload hundreds of images to your site without bothering to swap out the file names for something better. Further, once added to your site, naming your images though alt-text is also a crucial step in SEO (Search Engine Optimization.
Focus on using keywords your customers would search in Google to find products in your store. By doing so, you can send a ranking signal that says, “this is what users are looking for!” when search engines crawl your website.
Well-crafted alt texts can help your pictures rank in Google image search. Because of this, it’s imperative to provide alt attributes for every product image on your eCommerce website.
2. Improve User Experience
Alt-text attributes are also useful to visually impaired shoppers who may be using a text-to-speech program online. When a text-to-speech program crawls your webpage, it will read the alt-text so users can understand the image without seeing it.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when you write alt-attributes for your images:
- Focus on using plain, simple wording to describe your pictures
- Just like your image titles, the alt text should be clear and concise
- Include serial numbers and model numbers if your products have them
- Avoid keyword stuffing (spammy or unnecessary keywords)
- Avoid creating alt-attributes for decorative images, as Google could view this as over-optimization
3. Maximize Angles And Dimensions
Prospective buyers want to know as much about your product as possible. To accommodate their curiosity, it’s common for sellers to include images showing multiple angles of each product. Not only does this help your conversion rate, but it provides another opportunity for unique alt-text.
In other words, if you include several shots of the same product, describe which angle the image is from in the alt-attributes. The same rule applies to images of the same product in different colors.
If you want to provide a larger image so users can see the product close-up, make sure you aren’t slowing down your page load time by simply shrinking the dimensions in the source code. Instead, provide an option for users to view the larger image in a separate window or pop-up.
4. Pay Attention To File Size (And Reduce It)
Research suggests nearly half of the customers who visit your site won’t even wait three seconds for a website page to load. In fact, Amazon found that slow page speed could cost them $1.6 billion in sales every year. Additionally, page speed is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
With that in mind, avoid images that slow down your page speed. You can do this by reducing the overall image size, then compressing the image.
5. Choose The Best File Type
File type can improve optimization and image quality on your website as well. Generally speaking, there are three main types of image files: JPEG, GIF, and PNG.
In the world of eCommerce, JPEG files are usually best, as they tend to maximize image quality while keeping the file relatively small. PNGs are another option, but make sure you’re using the PNG-8 format instead of PNG-24.
Finally, never use GIF images for your product pictures. GIFs only come in large file formats and are difficult – if not impossible – to resize.
6. Don’t Forget About Your Thumbnails
Thumbnail images can be optimized, too. They are also a necessary part of any ecommerce website, especially on pages that display long lists of products for users to select (category pages and site search results, for instance).
The problem with thumbnails on category pages is they can slow down your page speed simply because there are so many pictures on one page.
To avoid losing customers over a weighty thumbnail image, make sure your thumbnails are as space efficient as possible. Additionally, focus on making the alt-text for each image unique – even if you have a larger version of the same picture on the actual product page.
In some cases, it may be wise to eliminate alt attributes for the thumbnail version completely – otherwise Google may index the thumbnail instead of the larger image.
What do you think? Are you inspired to get and optimize product images perfectly for your online store using these techniques? Now it’s just time to put them to use.