If you aren’t optimizing the images on your Shopify website, you are missing out on a valuable SEO opportunity. The images on your website can inform, inspire, and create a long-lasting impression in the visitor’s mind. By adding alternative text (alt text) and using the right sized images, you not only cater to Google’s standards but create a better user experience for all. In this article, we will cover what image SEO is, how to SEO images in Shopify, best practices, and shopify resources for making image SEO easy. 

What is Image SEO?

There are two important aspects of image SEO, alt text and image file size. Let’s talk about alt text first. 

Alt text is an HTML attribute that is included in images and is used to help search engine crawlers and text browsers understand what is displayed within the image. Alt text is very important for making your website accessible to all users, especially the visually impaired, because text readers will use the alt text provided. When there is no alt text, the text reader will use the image source information instead, which can lead to a poor user experience. Alt text will also display when an image doesn’t load, creating a better experience for the user than simply an image file name or blank space. 

All of these situations are user-centric which means alt text should always be written for a human, not a search engine. When you write high-quality alt text descriptions, you get the added benefit of better rankings. We’ll go over best practices for writing alt text descriptions later, but just remember alt text is first and foremost for the user. 

The second important aspect of image SEO is to ensure your image file sizes are the proper dimensions. Images with large file sizes can slow down your page load speed which can cause users to leave. We recommend keeping your image file sizes under 70KB; anything bigger than that can slow down the page. 

As you compress an image, you may notice your image quality decrease. When you  adjust your image file sizes,strike a balance between quality and size. For small images like thumbnails, you can favor size over quality. We recommend saving images in the JPEG file format as it has the best size-to-quality relationship. Photoshop is a great tool for image compression if you already have it, but there are plenty of free options online like ImgOptim, Photopea, Optimizilla, Gimp and many more. 

How to Add Alt Text to Images on Shopify

Shopify makes it easy to add alt text to your website images. The process is just a little different for product photos. Use these steps below to learn how to SEO images in Shopify by adding alt text to product and featured images. 

How to Add Alt Text to Product Images: 

1. Go to the Shopify Admin page

2. From there go to Products > All products

3. Choose the product you want to add image alt text to

4. Click on the “ALT” link on the product image

5. Fill in the alt text for the image and click done when finished.

How to Add Alt Text to Featured Images on Collection Pages and Blog Posts:

1. Click on the collection or blog you want to add alt text to. 

2. Choose “Update” under the image.

3. Click “Edit image” and add your image alt text. 

4. Click “Save” when you are done. 

How to Write Quality Alt Text Descriptions

We mentioned earlier that  the best alt text is written for a human, not a robot. However, you can still rank for your alt text if you add a little strategy to your descriptions. The key is to write alt text that combines what is shown in the image and how a user would search for it all in one concise line. Alt text should be no more than 125 characters max, or 5 to 15 words long, so you’ll need to make each word count. The best alt text is short and descriptive. Below are some examples of well-written alt texts: 

Ok: Green Plant

Good: Green potted succulent plant

Great: Small aloe vera plant in cement pot  

Ok: Pair of Shoes

Good: Gray casual shoes

Great: Mens gray lace-up casual shoe top view   

Ok: Polaroid camera

Good: Black instant film camera

Great: Black Pronto600 Polaroid Camera front view

Shopify Image Alt Text SEO Best Practices

  • If you are going to try and use keywords, limit yourself to one per description. Any more than that and it will look like keyword stuffing. 
  • Avoid using “image of” or “photo showing” — this is implied and a waste of your character limit. 
  • Include model or serial numbers for relevant products.
  • Create unique alt text for every image. If it’s a series of photos, like different angles of a product, be sure to include that differentiator, for example “side view”. 
  • Google cannot read any text on an image so if an image has text on it, you should include that text in the alt text. 
  • If you are using an image for a button, put the CTA in the alt text. 
  • Any images not used as product or featured images are considered decorative. If you are using decorative images as a background, border, bullet points, etc, leave the alt text blank. When possible, use CSS for this type of content which will speed up page load time. 
  • Leave thumbnail alt text blank. This is recommended so that your thumbnail doesn’t rank instead of the larger, better quality product photo. If you do write alt text for thumbnails, make sure they are totally different from the actual product photo alt text. 
  • Image file names are crawlable, which means this is another SEO opportunity. Similar to alt text, name image files with short, descriptive text. For example: DJIO9083.jpg vs blue-mens-running-shoe-front-view.jpg

3 Plugins for SEO Images on Shopify

The Shopify app store has a great library of apps for adding SEO to images. The following are some of the most popular Shopify Image SEO apps that can help you: 

1. Bulk Image Edit – Image SEO

This shopify plugin created by Hextom makes it easy for users to edit, resize, rename, compress, and add alt text to images in bulk. Not only does this help with efficiency, but it also creates a uniform appearance and alt text template. There is also a watermark feature which is great for merchants who need to protect their images. The free plan option covers the basics whilethose looking for a well-rounded image SEO plugin will need to upgrade to a paid plan. 

2. SEO Image Optimizer – Auto SEO

With a 4.9 star rating and over 6000+ reviews in the Shopify app store, this plugin is incredibly popular. This app promises to do all the SEO work for you, all you have to do is install the free app and they take care of the rest. Well, nothing is ever free and we would say proceed with caution. If you’ve already worked on your website SEO, this plugin could mess that up. This app seems better fit for a website that has never done SEO as it can set up a nice foundation for your site. If you could this route, we recommend checking the SEO work each month to ensure their strategy is working for you. 

3. Plug in SEO 

This app offers tools for full website SEO, not just images. This is a great option because it allows you to optimize in bulk for a much speedier process. The main difference between the free and paid option is that you get much more support and more complex SEO tools in the paid plan. The free plan, however, should be sufficient for those looking to do-it-themselves. 

Shopify Image SEO: The Big Picture

Your website images play a major role in your brand identity. Images can inform, inspire, and establish trust in the user. So whether you’ve invested in professional product photos or found the perfect image for a category page, make sure you’ve set those images up for success. 

Properly optimized images should have: 

✔ A file size no larger than 70KB

✔ A descriptive file name

✔ A high-quality, succinct alt text description written for a human to understand

Ensuring each of your photos meets the above requirements will improve overall user experience and make your images more visible in Google image searches.