How to Optimize Images to Increase your Website Speed
It is no secret that speed is one of the critical Google ranking factors. If your website takes too long to load, your website will be pushed down the search ranking order.
Where site speed is concerned, Google is not the only 'person' you have to fear. It is also a known fact, that website visitors who first land on your website, will only give you an average of 3 seconds to convince them to stay. A slow website therefore faces a double threat.
Your website has to be fast.
Your website therefore must be fast if it is to perform at its best.
Things that slow down your website
Several things can slow down your website: a slow or over-packed server, badly coded website, and poorly optimized images are some that come readily to mind.
Poorly Optimized Images
One of the most common culprits is poorly optimized images. Many people just take images and add onto their website without considering whether or not they are optimized.
Most cameras now take high resolution photos. A 5-MP (megapixel) photo measures 2560x1920. A high quality JPEG image that size could be over 1.5 MB. Most websites don't need a file of that size or resolution.
It is best therefore to optimize the images in two specific areas:
1) Fit images to your website
2) Compress images for good quality yet small file sizes
Fit images to your website
Your website design determines the sizes of the images that are placed on it. If you are using a full page slider, these images will be wider. If you are using a page with sidebars, the images will be smaller. Find out the sizes of the images needed and resize images accordingly.
If you load a bigger image than your website needs, time will be wasted loading the big image when a smaller, easier to load image could work instead.
The unknowing will load a large image and resize it after uploading to the website. Bad idea. It is best to resize images to the right size before upload.
Why? Uploading a 1.5MB sized image with 2560x1920 image dimensions, then resizing it (in the same proportion) to 800x600 means your website still has to load the big 1.5 MB file before it can be shrunk to the smaller size. Remember, reducing image size in the first instance, automatically reduces the file size.
For editing images and reducing image sizes, use what I consider to be the best free photo editing desktop tool, Photoscape.
Compress image for good quality yet small file size
After cutting down the image to the perfect size to fit your website, it is then best to compress the image even further to reduce file size even more and thereby increase your website loading speed.
For this, I use a free software called RIOT. This desktop software can significantly reduce your file size without any noticeable reduction in picture quality. You may even get a bunch of photos and do a batch compression (reduce several photos in one go).
The image of the bird above was reduced from 511.38 KB to only 84.86 KB using RIOT.
To make the file size even smaller, I add the final touch: a WordPress plugin called WP Smush. This plugin is easy to use. All you do is install it and it sits in the background on your WordPress site and compresses every image that you add.
The result of this method is that you have crisp, well compressed images, optimized images on your website. It does mean a little addition to your workload it is worth it. Your website will load faster, you will get an SEO boost in search ranking, and website visitors will have a speedier, more pleasant experience on your site.
Your bounce rate will fall (the rate at which people leave your site after landing on it). Bounce rate is again another of Google's ranking factors. This will further boost search ranking and your website will be more efficient.
For a faster loading website, lower bounce rate, higher search engine rankings and a better user experience for visitors, you may optimize the images on your website by using the free tools listed on this page.