[Updated on November 2021]
Long time ago I wrote a short (yet quite complete) post on image SEO which obviously needed an update, so a couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit more detailed and up-to-date article on optimizing images for search and social media.
Image optimization is important for many reasons, including better performance, faster site speed and better rankings.
Today’s article lists most essential WordPress plugins to optimize and make the most of your image content you post on your blog.
That’s not yet another 20-best-plugins article listing an enormous number of more or less useless plugins you don’t want or need. Here are the 5 most essential ones you *must* have to see your traffic spike!
SEO-Optimize Images: File Name + Alt Text + Size
1. Optimize Alt Text and Title of Images
SEO-Friendly Images is the plugin by the awesome Vladimir Prelovac (who obviously knows a thing about WordPress SEO). It helps you optimize all your existent and future images by automatically adding an alternative and TITLE text to them. It lets you:
- Automatically add the alternative and TITLE text to your images where you already don’t have either.
- Make the the alternative and TITLE text different by combining the following four variables:
- %title – replaces post title
- %name – replaces image file name (without extension)
- %category – replaces post category
- %tags – replaces post tags
If you’ve been wondering about the purpose of the alt text and title attribute for images, here’s a very concise chart that makes the difference obvious:
(Note: they are both more or less essential for SEO nowadays, but that’s not the reason to make the two identical just in case)
2. Optimize image file names!
While being (arguably) not the most powerful SEO-relevant image element, the file name is crucial for getting your images to rank in image search results.
Media File Renamer is the easiest plugin ever and with only one functionality: it adds an option to change the image URL slug (i.e. image file name) to optimize it. To change the image file name, just change the title field when uploading. Easy but pure gold!
3. Optimize the Size and Image Load Speed
Nowadays we are all well aware of the importance of your page load speed for SEO and user experience. Google loves fast pages and images can make your pages much slower.
WP Smush.it is an invaluable plugin that uses the awesome
Smush.it API to optimize the images you upload to your blog on many levels:
- It compresses the images to load them faster;
- It strips unnecessary colors from indexed images;
- It converts certain GIFs to PNGs for better performance.
It works for the new images “behind the scene”: just upload images and it will optimize them. It can be run for already published articles from your “Media Library”
Note: This one may have your site hang for quite some time, so run it on the slowest (least active) day and time.
Protect Images: Watermark
5. Automatically Watermark Your Images
Easy Watermark is a cool plugin that adds a watermark to images you upload to your blog. You can configure it to:
- Set the image type you want watermarked;
- Align the watermark;
- Set the color and size of the font:
+1. Protect Images from Downloading and Re-Using
(I am not using it myself as I seldom use my own images, but I can definitely see the value of it!)
No Right-Click for Images is the essential plugin, especially if you are the creator of the images you upload to your blog and you don’t want them to be re-used. It won’t help for all cases of plagiarism but it does what it does: the plugin doesn’t let your readers use the right click on image files to copy or save them.
|WordPress plugin for image optimization||What does it do?||Bulk-updates previously uploaded images (in old posts)?|
|SEO-Friendly Images||Adds image alt text and title attribute||Yes|
|Media File Renamer||Adds the option to change image file name (URL slug)||No|
|WP Smush.it||Optimizes image size and load time||Yes|
|Easy Watermark||Adds your brand watermark to all images you upload to your blog||No|
|+1. No Right-Click for Images||Disables right-click on image file to prevent them from being downloaded||Yes|
Any other essential plugins for image optimization? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by MahPadilha
Latest posts by Ann Smarty (see all)
- Semantic Research + AI = Win - May 15, 2023
- Visual Quotes. HOW TO: Quote Using Text-to-Image Tools (and Go Viral) - Aug 9, 2022
- Digital Marketing Tools: Best New SEO Software I Use - Apr 5, 2022
Cool share Ann;) Very helpful plugins. Every time we post a blog, it’s very helpful to ask ourselves how can this be different? How can this be unique enough that it will stand out from the crowd? Creativity should always be included in everything that we do. We also need to optimize and make the most of our image content we post on our blog.
really interesting! However, I always worry what happens to the speed of my site if I install plugins for everything…
Nice. I’ve been focusing a lot more on my images lately and I’m totally impressed with these plugins. Love the smush.it one! It’s doing its thing right now!
Thanks for sharing these 🙂
A message for Radicke. there is a free plugin(yes another one) called super cache. It caches your content on your server and your pages load lightening quick regardless of what content you have on there, including videos. you can get it from the wordpress site.
@Jeff: yes, thanks. I am using super cache… However, it will not help if the 20-something plugins I would like to install don´t work together well…
I wish there were “officially” approved plugins by wordpress (kind of like from the Apple App Store…)
Smush.it is my default plugin for all my WP blogs.
I don’t know Watermark Reloaded , so might have to try it out 🙂
WordPress is having so awesome plugins I was not aware about.. I am using smush.it from a long time and happy with the image performance of my blog.
I am using SEO Images plugin also which is very helpful too..
I did not know that there were so many plug-ins. WordPress is rocking. I would like to set Watermark Reloaded and SEO-Friendly Images
I would like to have an answer to question that has me stumped. I know this is not probably the right place but here goes. How do you add an alt tag to a thumbnail ? SEO quake says that my alt tags are missing only on most of my images . All of my product images are thumbnails. Thanks in advance if anyone can help.
Great plugins! thank you very much. Specialy thanks for media file renamer, was looking for a tool like that for ages. Can’t belive it didn’t crossed my mind to go search it on wp plugins repository :s
So far I only use WP Smush.it. Thank you for sharing this valuable information.
You mentioned some plugins I have not heard of. great stuff, thanks again.
I guess I need to say DUH! I have been going in and manually trying to optimize my images. I should have known there was a WP plugin to make this easier!
awesome list thanks sharing this list :)very useful
Just a heads up, the Wp Smush-It service is essentially defunct due to the Yahoo API.
Bad news for everyone 🙁
We use RIOT to optimize every image before uploading it to the site. It can reduce size of an image to more than 92% of its original size while keeping the quality of the image intact. And most importantly it’s free to use (cheers)!
@Nadeem: Doesn’t have OS X support. OS X users should look in to “ImageOptim”
Wow! Great info here. I’m using SEO Friendly Images on my WP sites. The Watermark Reloaded one is new to me. I believe I’ll try it. Thanks again for the great content.
If you are looking for great images, you might want to check our Pixabay’s plugin for retrieving public domain images:
The plugin lets you pick among 80.000+ free quality images that don’t require attribution. Probably a great addition to the here presented plugins 🙂
I like all the plugins except right click for images. I would say its a waste to install this plugin. If someone wants to steal your images he can simply use the prtscn option to capture the image or use browser add-ons like awesome screenshot
I agree with Anish. No-right click for images is a waste of time. I have the option in my theme to enable no-right click, but you can easily download an image just by clicking on it, then right-clicking and saving as… No need for special plugins – not good at all 🙁
I would love to have the smush.it but have the hesitation on using the watermark reloaded for the simple reason that if I put my screenshot version of Matt Cutt’s picture on my blog, this might lead to copyright issues because I usually make screenshots from his videos.
Just to let everyone know: WP-Smushit seems to be fully functioning again, and is definitely recommended.
You can find it in the WP depository:
Wow, great list and a few I’ve never used before, should keep me busy this afternoon. Thanks 🙂
A so useful list. Thanks a lot for this amazing tips 🙂
The commenter above who dissed No Right Click doesn’t get the point, does she? No right click means no right click. Duh.
As far as image thieves, eventually they’ll get theirs.
Thank you for sharing these plugins.
I developed a plugin for my own use, but I just publish it on wordpress.
My plugin “Bulk SEO Image” is useful to update all ALT attributes of your images in one clic (for example, with the post title)
Compared to other plugin, the plugin changes the ALT attribut in one time, and is not called when a page is loading
I expect a lot of updates in the future, and I welcome any feedback!
Some great tips for me to get stuck in to. Many thanks!
This is very useful article. Thank you for sharing.
Ann Smarty thanks a lot for this useful post. Right now i am working Bulk WP Smush.IT.
Thanks for sharing. I am using Smush, it’s really good but the media file renamer you mention in your article is a plugin I wasn’t aware of but will try out. Thanks, Claire
Wow, great list and a few I’ve never used before, should keep me busy this afternoon. Thanks 🙂
Hello, thank you for summary but I still don’t know which one is the best… WP.Smush.it is good and simple but does not show me the best results.
Nice article, found it on Google search today and I must say that though it’s an old one but it still has relevant information! 😀
Thanks for posting!
I think SEO Friendly image is useless and doesnt work for my site.. Missing alt image still there.. Nothing change
Hey Ann Smarty,
First i want to thank you sharing this information. Actually i have started an Image Blog and all the images are created by me. But as i have observed that it is very difficult to rank new Images on the Internet. I am using both the plugins – SEO Friendly Images and WP Smush.it. Still nothing works. Please help me out, Is there any another way to rank my Images?
I’m not so sure about installing plugins to images – it could cause of bit of disruption to the site no? Great work though – loving the blog!!
SEO Friendly Images is outdated and since more than two years not maintained. I’ve developed a similar plugin, maybe someone here find it helpful: https://wordpress.org/plugins/pb-seo-friendly-images/
Thank Ann for this post. I using “SEO-Friendly Images” for most of my sites. But, it’ not received any upgrade in over 2 years, and this seem not good with any wordpress plugin. I tried to looking for new image optimize plugin to replacement it. Do you know and gives me any suggest, Ann ?
These are amazing plugin list that I have really seem interesting.
what is the function of wp-smushit plugin on WordPress? That plugin has kept in the dark, I really need you to throw more light to that plugin.
Thanks for the plugin List. it was really helpful.
I really need this plugin, it really helps me in optimize the image blog keep sharing all this helpful article.
If you are outside of the WordPress context and want to add a bunch of optimizations like Image Compression, Progressive JPEGs and CDN to your images without having to move around all your images you guys can try out the ImageBoss (https://imageboss.me). It’s has a pretty handy api if you also want to automatically generate thumbnails for your images using smart cropping etc.
Wow, great list and a few I’ve never used before, thanx.