How to Optimize Images for WordPress

If you have a website or blog, you need to add images to it. Adding images to your website is vital if you want to make your content more engaging for users; nobody likes reading a wall of text, so images help break up your written content and make it more visually appealing for users.

Adding images to your site can also help you improve search engine optimization, boost sales of your product or service, draw more traffic to your site, and more.

But, adding a ton of images to your site can slow it down.

Most WordPress users simply upload their photos to their site without optimizing them for the web first. This results in having large image files that slow your website down to a crawl.

According to statistics, just a 2-second delay in page load time can increase bounce rates by up to 103%, which is not good for your business.

So, you need to optimize your images for the web to speed up your site. And you need to do it without having to sacrifice the quality of your images.

Here’s how to optimize images for WordPress.

What is Image Optimization?

Simply put, image optimization is the act of making images smaller and more accessible on your website. This process involves manipulating image size without reducing quality.

Image Optimization

You don’t want people to visit your site, only to see stretched and distorted images. Similarly, you don’t want to leave the pictures you add at full size because that could dramatically impact your loading times.

The best way to optimize without sacrificing quality is by using tools that allow you to quickly and easily compress files into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Now, let’s look at the factors you should take into account before you get started.

Image Factors to Consider

There are several factors you should think about during the optimization process. Each piece of the puzzle plays an essential role in creating crisp, clean, high-quality images.

The three key parts are:

  • Image file formats
  • Size
  • Compression

It’s worth noting that all three elements work together to make a good image. If the size is right, but the format is wrong, you could end up with disjointed and broken visuals.

Let’s look at the optimization factors we mentioned above so you can see how each plays a role in creating a top-notch website image.

Image File Formats

The first part we will discuss is image file formats. In most cases, there are three file formats you’ll use on your site. Included are PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats. Each one has pros and cons that you should keep in mind when optimizing for your individual needs.

Image File Formats

PNG files are uncompressed, which means you can expect a high-quality image. However, the file size is usually much larger than JPEGs. You’ll find that this format is helpful if you want to post simple photos or use a picture with transparency.

JPEGs are compressed and, therefore, smaller than PNG files. If you want an image with a ton of color, JPEGs are an excellent option. But you should know that the reduced size could result in quality loss, depending on how you scale the graphic.

GIFs are also useful for websites that want to add a splash of animation to their website. These images use a limited color scheme with 256 available options. The lossless compression means you can upload a GIF and expect consistent quality throughout.

Image Size

Image size plays a significant role in the optimization process. If you’re uploading photos from your phone or digital camera, you’ll find that these images are massive. They typically have dimensions that are great for printing and framing photos, but terrible for website design.

It’s not uncommon to see images with a height and width of 4000×1600 if you’re adding your own photos. You don’t want to put these photos directly on your site because loading times and quality will suffer.

Instead, you want to get your images down to around 650×300, which is significantly smaller than the default image. It’s possible to reduce the size of some images by nearly 90%, which gives you more freedom when adding photos to your website.

Image Compression

The way you compress your image can have an impact on the overall quality of your work. There are multiple levels of compression, but the goal is always the same – to reduce the space images use on your server without impacting quality.

Depending on the plugins you use, image compression occurs automatically when you upload a new graphic to your WordPress website. There are also programs available that allow you to compress images before uploading them to your site.

Best Tools for Optimizing Your Images

There is a wide range of plugins and programs available that you can use to optimize your images. We are going to look at several tools you can use to improve the quality and size of your images before you add them to your site.

1. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular ways to optimize images you haven’t yet added to your site. This premium tool comes with many features that make editing, creating, and optimizing photos a breeze.

After opening an image in Adobe, you can click File >> Save to Web to choose the format and size you’d like to use. Make sure you save the changes as a new file so you’ll have a backup if optimization doesn’t go according to plan.

Overall, this tool will give you the most value for your money, but there are alternatives available for business owners and marketers on a budget.

2. Tiny PNG + Tiny JPEG

Tiny PNG and Tiny JPEG are two excellent tools you can use to compress your images. Both sites are free to use and can help you bring your photos down to a more manageable size before adding them to your site.

Our favorite part about these tools is they are super easy to use. Tiny PNG and Tiny JPEG both feature drag and drop interfaces, which saves you time and energy.

Simply drag and drop the image you want to compress and wait for the download link to pop up. Save the new download, and you have a shiny new compressed image to add to your WordPress website.


GIMP is a free alternative you can use instead of Adobe Photoshop. The catch here is this is open-source software, which means that changes can happen sporadically.

Also, the layout is not as user friendly as Adobe. However, if you’re looking for a free alternative for photo optimization, you can’t go wrong with GIMP.

If you want to optimize images with GIMP, open your photo with the tool. Next, click File >> Export As and choose the file type you want to use. Once you make your selection, you can adjust compression and size through the on-screen options.

How to Optimize Images Already On Your Site

If you already have a website with a ton of images on it, it would be very time-consuming to remove the images, optimize them, and re-upload them,

Luckily, there are some tools you can use to optimize your images after they’ve already been uploaded to WordPress.

1. Optimole

Optimole is an extremely popular WordPress plugin that optimizes images you’ve already added to your website. The folks behind this tool are also responsible for ThemeIsle, a top-notch theme and template plugin.

Highlights include:

  • Fully cloud-based, which means faster loading times
  • Lightening-fast installation + setup
  • Automatically resizes images to fit all mobile and desktop screens.
  • Track and monitor optimization statistics
  • Works with popular page builders including Elementor, Beaver Builder, and the block builder introduced with WordPress 5.0
2. Imagify

Imagify is an image optimization plugin from the team behind WP Rocket. This tool is perfect for people that have uploaded a ton of images to their site but didn’t correctly optimize them first.

There are also plenty of great benefits for people planning on consistently adding new visuals to their website.

Noteworthy features include:

  • Set a compression size for all future images, you add for quick, automatic optimization
  • Optimize images previously added to your site with one click
  • Easy to use interface makes this tool perfect for beginners and WordPress veterans alike
  • Option to resize images on the fly
3. EWWW Image Optimizer

EWWW Image Optimizer is an affordable optimization WordPress plugin. You can use this tool to fix existing images, optimize new photos, and more. We like this tool because it’s easy to use, and you can quickly improve website loading times while cutting back on valuable storage space.

The plans run from between $5 and $15 a month, depending on your needs. The $5 plan comes with enough features to make this plugin a viable option for small business owners. EWWW image optimizer comes with many of the features you’d expect, like the ability to optimize images already uploaded to your WordPress website.

Optimizing Your Images for SEO

The final topic we will discuss is optimizing your images for SEO. You’re likely aware of the benefits that come with SEO-oriented marketing strategies. Businesses that focus on SEO see more engagement, sales, and traffic on their website.

Your visual uploads are just as crucial for your SEO ranking as your written content. Google looks at over 200 factors when ranking websites, but we want to focus on some that are important for optimizing image SEO.

First, make sure you include alt text when you’re adding new images to your site. Once you add an image, you’ll see a screen similar to the one below.

Optimizing Your Images for SEO

Captions and alt text both have the same function to your users, but vastly different when it comes to SEO. Alt text gives Google’s crawlers additional context about the images you add to your site. So, if you’re writing an article about dog collars, including alt text under your images helps Google understand that your site, or at least that page, is about dogs.

The more context Google has about your website, the better chance you have at making it to the top page for your chosen keywords.

Other best SEO practices include many of the tips we’ve mentioned above. Picking the right file type, compression, and quality all play a role in how Google perceives your site.

Crawlers also make decisions based on how users interact with your brand. For instance, if you’re not compressing images, loading times will increase, and more consumers will bounce from your page. A high bounce rate sends negative signals to Google, which can lower your SEO ranking.

If your goal is to truly optimize your images for SEO, you may have to backtrack and include alt text on old images you’ve added to your site throughout the years. If you have a blog that’s packed with content, focus on high-traffic pages first.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you have to consider a lot of factors when optimizing images for WordPress. Focusing on high-quality, engaging images will make both your audience and Google happy. The result is a WordPress website with impressive loading times, beautifully rendered images, and highly engaging content.

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