Images are slowly becoming more and more vital in all aspects of a digital marketing campaign. From the local SEO standpoint, using images on your site correctly can result in greater foot traffic and increased sales for your dispensary so image optimization for cannabis dispensaries should be a priority. Falling into the trap of “just” having images on your site is easy, but by “just” uploading pictures and not optimizing them, your dispensary is leaving a great deal of potential revenue on the table.
This post will walk you through the top 5 steps of optimizing an image for your site so that your dispensary doesn’t miss out on the benefits of utilizing multimedia.
1. Finding the Right Image
Your images need to be high quality, with good resolution and of a size large enough to be visible across multiple devices.
In most cases, shooting unique imagery and adding it to your site is the best choice. If that’s not possible, stock images can become an excellent resource to supplement the other images on your site. However, when using a stock photo, make sure you have all necessary permissions to use or modify the picture for your commercial purposes.
2. Name the Images Descriptively
There is a chance that your dispensary is going to be using hundreds of product and category images. When taking the photos yourself, it’s easy to keep the default file name your camera assigns them. Although, just because it’s easy, don’t be fooled.
Like with many things in SEO, it’s important to use relevant target keywords to help your website rank on search engines. Using keyword rich and descriptive file names is incredibly important for image optimization. Since crawlers can’t ‘read’ the image, they rely on different agents to identify what the image represents. One of those items is the image filename.
For example. If you have a picture of the blue dream strain, you should name the file blue_dream_hybrid_cannabis_flower.jpg. This descriptive file name is best for optimal ranking in search engines and targets customer keyword searches. The alternative is a non-descriptive default file name generate by your camera, example, 178898sd.jpg.
3. ALT Tags
Alt tags are a text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. Proper implementation of images and their associated ALT attributes are an important part of a site’s presentation and usability. ALT attributes in images can help search engines define the meaning of the pictures. Therefore, it would make sense to place ALT text on every store or brand image on your dispensary site, as well as other relevant images such as site logos.
The three simple rules for ALT tags are:
- Do not keyword stuff your alt tags.
- Use plain English just like you do for the file names
- If your products have model numbers, use them in your ALT tags
4. Reduce File Size
Most sites will lose nearly 40% of their traffic if their site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. In many cases, images will load slowly unless the file sizes are reduced or compressed manually.
One way you can reduce image file size is by using the “Save for Web” command in Photoshop. When using this command, you adjust the image to the lowest file size acceptable while using the preview window to ensure that the image maintains its quality.
If you don’t have access to Photoshop, many other online tools can help with reducing image file sizes. One of the best FREE options is GIMP. You can run GIMP Windows, Mac or Linux and it can do everything Photoshop can do. GIMP does have a small learning curve, but it’s easy to pick up once you’re active in the software for an hour or so.
5. Image Sitemaps
Image sitemaps are great ways to increase the likelihood that your images get discovered in Image Search results on Google. Crawlers can’t crawl images that are not called out in the website source code. To let the search engines and crawlers know the details of your pictures, you must list their location in an image sitemap.
If you have an existing XML sitemap, you can add a picture line to each URL that has an image to let the search engines know that the page that they are crawling has an image they should index. Google gives an example below of what that would look like:
Follow these guidelines that Google suggests when creating a Sitemap with image information.