Boosting Website Performance with WordPress Image Optimization
Your website is nothing without its images. But images can also slow down your site. And a slow site can very well cost you business. So, what’s a website owner to do? The answer: Optimize. By following a few simple WordPress image optimization best practices, you can wow the world with a site that’s both visually engaging and speedy.
And, as it turns out, site speed isn’t the only benefit you stand to gain from WordPress image optimization. It also helps with:
- Improving SEO rankings. When you optimize not only the size of the image, but also its name, Google’s search bots are more likely to find your site and, in turn, rank your images higher in search results.
- Reducing storage and bandwidth needs. Often times, that reduction in storage space is also accompanied by a correlating reduction in the costs associated with those services.
- Faster website backups. All of your valuable site data is backed up in a flash, which can be a major factor in managing and maintaining your site.
What is image optimization?
All of the benefits listed above sound great, right? So great that you may be ready to add WordPress image optimization to the top of your to do list. But… What exactly does it mean to optimize images for WP?
WordPress image optimization is a two-fold technique: First, it refers to the reduction of image file sizes – as much as possible without sacrificing quality – so that your page loading times remain low. And second, as we touched on above, it’s also about properly naming and tagging images so that they rank highly within Google and other image search engines. In this article, we’ll be focused primarily on optimizing for size and speed.
How do I optimize images for WordPress?
There are three key factors to consider in achieving ideal WordPress image optimization:
- File format
- Image dimensions
With the proper combination of the three, it’s possible to reduce your image sizes by as much as 80%!
The three most common image file formats for websites are JPEGs, PNGs and GIFs.
- JPEGs are great for images with lots of colors, but it’s a compressed file format, which means that in reducing the file size, the WordPress image quality can also sometimes be sacrificed. Fortunately, however, when that happens, the drop in quality tends not to be too noticeable, particularly for smaller images.
- PNGs can have transparent backgrounds, which can be a huge bonus for designing web graphics. They are also a “lossless” file format, which is great for quality (all of the information about the image is retained, even when the file is compressed) but not always great for file sizes (all of that information retention means the size of the file doesn’t usually decrease much). For losslessly compressing WordPress images, PNGs are your best bet.
- GIFs should be reserved for animated files only. Like PNGs, they allow for lossless compression, although they are somewhat limited in that they use only 256 colors.
Image compression refers to the actual act of reducing, or compressing, your images so that the file size is reduced, the image takes up less space in your website’s back end, and it loads faster on the end user’s screen – the ultimate goal of WordPress image optimization. When you build your site in WordPress, image compression can either be done in a third-party photo editing app before you upload the file to your WP media library, or it can be done right within WordPress itself. (We’ve named some of the best image compression plugins for WordPress below.)
Typically, when you take a photo on your phone or digital camera, or you download a stock photo, these images have resolutions of 300 DPI and dimensions that can be as large as 3000 pixels or more! Those numbers are excellent for printing purposes, but they are way too high for web. In most cases, for ideal WordPress image optimization, a photo should be no larger than 1200 pixels in height or width, and the DPI can be brought down as low as 72 DPI. Again, there is photo editing software that can help you do this, or you can do it right within WordPress.
To make the magic happen, third-party apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, GIMP or TinyPNG are all great options. But if you’d prefer to keep it all in one spot and use WordPress to reduce image size, a few of the best image optimization plugins in WordPress to consider are Optimole, Imagify and Smush.
If you need help with your WordPress image optimization or aren’t sure where to start, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design today, and one of our team members will be in touch.