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Image Optimization with WordPress

Google has one goal in mind – serve its users with the best sites possible depending on the search queries they use.

What does Google consider “the best sites?” Well, there are many factors that go into what they consider a good site.

One factor we know for sure is site speed.

Google’s Need for Speed

In 2010, Google announced they used site speed as a ranking factor for desktop computers. Recently, they’ve announced that site speed once again is going to be a ranking factor starting in July. This time, it’s going to be for mobile devices.

With over half of Google searches made on mobile devices, it’s time to get your site up to speed.

At this point, you’re thinking, “I thought this was supposed to be about images.” Oh, but it is about images.

Images take up a lot of space on your server, and when servers get bogged down by file sizes (including those of images), sites load slower.

Your mission is to optimize images, so they render quickly and efficiently.

Optimizing Images

It’s best to optimize images BEFORE you upload them to your WordPress site.

If you’re using a graphics program, you may have an option when saving that says something along the lines of, “Save for Web and Devices.” This is what Photoshop has, which then allows you to choose the file type and quality. JPEG is the preferred file type. It’s best for photographs, so if you have other types of images, such as website graphics, you may need to go with PNG. This file size may be larger, but you’ll keep the quality intact.

Using a graphics program that doesn’t have the option to reduce the file size won’t compromise the website’s speed significantly, as long as you use a WordPress optimization plugin.

My personal favorite is WP Smush.it. This could be because of the cartoonish branding they have, but it’s also because of its mighty power in stripping the meta data from images, compressing the file size, and clean up any other images you haven’t optimized on your site.

Another favorite I’ve used with success is EWWW Image Optimizer. This one has a simpler interface than Smush.it. It also doesn’t have a limit on the number of images you can optimize at one time. With Smush.it, you may need to hit the optimize button a few times if you’ve never optimized your images before and you’re doing all of them on your site.

Consider User Experiences

Don’t disrupt user experiences by slowing the site down as images are optimized. Consider running them at night when during your site’s slowest time.

The good news is that as soon as your images are optimized, you’ll likely notice an improvement in your site’s speed. If you don’t, there’s likely something else causing the slowdown – theme coding, server capabilities, etc.

I’ll cover those speed suckers in future posts. For now, start optimizing your images because it’s a necessity even if the effects are minimal.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below.

 

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