If you’ve ever played an organized sport, you may remember the days of sitting in a locker room staring at a chalkboard (just the pure thought of a chalkboard makes me cringe now) as your coach went over the game’s moments of strengths and weaknesses.

I played basketball and my team wasn’t anything special. But I remember very vividly that if we forgot about the basic fundamentals of the game, nothing else would go our way. For example, if our passing was sloppy, we had poor ball handling and were not working together as a team, it didn’t matter how many tricks we had up our sleeves or if we had a “star player;” the foundation of the game was still a mess.

I think the same philosophy holds true to a lot of things in life, including the work that we do. Without excelling at the basic fundamentals, it’s difficult for anything else to perform as well as it could.

That’s how I think you need to view having a successful ecommerce website, too, by starting with the basic fundamentals. Part of those basic fundamentals is optimizing your images. Without this, the foundation of your site will be lacking.

So, how do you do that? Let’s explore. 

Rich image file names

Well, ecommerce marketers, the first thing I’m going to tell you is that if your image name is your SKU number, you've got some work to do. Your image names should be keyword rich and descriptive of what the image is.

Let’ say you sell coffee mugs. Instead of calling your image "sku-10051525.jpg," call it "american-flag-coffee-mug.jpg."

Start asking yourself:

  • How do my customers tend to search for our products?

  • Does this naming convention make sense to the average user?

  • Does this image name clearly describe what the product is?

When you can clearly answer those questions, you’re on the right track.

However, steer clear of over-stuffing your image name with keywords, as well. None of this: "red-white-blue-american-flag-patriotic-independence-day-coffee-mug.jpg." As with most things in life, stick with quality over quantity.

Alt tags

Alt tags will add some nice SEO value to your ecommerce site and will help you achieve better rankings in the search engines when used appropriately. Alt tags are technically a text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them.

So, sticking with our coffee mug example:

<img src=“american-flag-coffee-mug.jpg” alt=“american flag coffee mug”>

Be careful though — don’t give your alt tags and images names that will a trigger a spam alert, either. For example, stay away from a naming convention like “american-flag-coffee-mug-on-sale-buy-now.jpg” and giving it the same matching alt tag. That’s a no-no. Don’t make your image names and alt tags desperate, make them good.

Use an image sitemap

Using a Google image sitemap will allow web crawlers to crawl your images and give Google additional information about the images. Along with this and following their best practices for publishing images, there is the increased likelihood that your images will get indexed by Google and show up in image search results.

Image-specific tags will need to be added to your sitemap so Google knows what to be looking for on each URL. Follow these guidelines for your image sitemap and you’ll be ready to rock and roll.

The Size of Your Images

If the images featured on your ecommerce website are too large they will slow down the load time of your page. In the end, you could get you penalized by Google, especially since category pages feature many images on them. You don’t want to get dinged for something that’s easily preventable.

Be sure to save your images for a web-optimized format, and square images are best. If you do have rectangle images, try to keep the ratios close and not too far stretched one way or the other. However, remember your users come first. For a better user experience on product detail landing pages, be sure to include multiple, larger images for the product if possible. Just, once again, make sure they are saved for a web-optimized format.


Image optimization is an important basic fundamental of any ecommerce site. Without optimizing them, your site is missing out part of the foundation of having a thriving ecommerce business, as well as missing out on potential visitors and revenue.

Stick to this and you’ll be image-optimized in no time.

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