So we met a web designer that says image size doesn’t matter anymore in terms of SEO. Interesting thought. Well let’s look at that idea some and then we can see what the reality of that statement might be.
When we are talking about SEO let’s keep in mind the majority of our focus is on Google these days and it’s most likely going to continue to be since they deliver the majority of traffic and control the biggest market share when it comes to search engine traffic.
So ask yourself this, If Google does not care about how big your images are why do they have a Google site speed tool that concerns itself with how fast a site loads? You can see how this tool function for yourself by following this link https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ . This tool is designed to give you insight in to what you can do to speed up your site. So it would make sense that large images that slow down a site might not be the best idea. Load time has been a ranking variable and continues to be one.
Here is a little screen cap of what this Google tool has to say about the home page of southwest airlines.
As you can see there is a whole section dedicated to optimizing images and the tool will even tell you the savings you will get by downloading the file that it produces for you which you can take and upload to your site to help speed things up.
So just based on this data alone I would venture to say it’s pretty safe to say that Google cares about the size of your images.
So why would they care you ask?
Well large bloated images slow down a site’s load time which when it comes to crawling the site slows down the spiders which is bad for search engine spiders and uses more of their resources then necessary.
Google is foremost concerned about their customers and the experience they will have when they use the search engine and follow a search result. What does that mean to anyone trying to rank in the organic Serp’s? Well it means that if you do not conform to providing the user experience that Google wants their customers to have you will get pushed out of prominent search results.
User experience has become a ranking variable and if your site experiences an excessive amount of bounces because let’s say your site images do not load fast enough and people click thru to the site and then leave because its taking too long to load you will be impacted.
Therefore, if the spider comes thru and sees excessively large images likely you will not ever get top rankings because Google will try and provide the best user experience possible and since they know people do not wait around for sites that load slow you will likely be dinged from the very beginning and never rank just to avoid a bad user experience. Let’s say you do get some rankings, be prepared to lose them once your bounce rate goes up because of excessive load times.
The struggle to offer quality images as well as good load time has been a real dilemma for about as long as the internet has been around. It’s especially difficult when we are talking about product images. Everyone knows users want to see good quality detailed images of products they are going to buy.
So how do we achieve the best of both worlds then?
- Well the answer is use compression software
- Get a web developer or a plugin that can help compress larger images
- Reduce your image sizes by optimizing them before they go on the web using an image tool.
- Isolate larger images to product pages and use thumbnails on pages and click thru to a larger image to reduce the initial load time of a page. Once someone clicks on a larger image they expect to wait a bit to get the detail they want.
- Us the images the compressed images Google gives you.
Just remember the biggest part of all of this is user experience. If the user does not have a good experience using your site those signals will come thru to Google and good rankings may soon be lost.
So use your own best judgement and think about the logic of why larger images are not the way you want to go unless they can be isolated.
Also keep in mind that not everyone even in America has access to a high speed connection and therefore what maybe just a short 5 second delay could be as long as 20 to 30 seconds to someone else and as we all know the attention span on the web is not very long.