Everyone who deals with photography and has ever wanted to upload their photos to the website, must have faced the problem of excessive size, which leads to many problems with the page load speed, its clarity, and even impossibility of uploading the image. That is where image compression comes into use. We will try to explain what it is, how it is done, how it affects website attractiveness, and we will check whether there are tools that can do it based on the WordPress website.
What is image compression?
Image compression is a basic concept for those who intend to upload their images to websites. To put it briefly, image compression is reduction in size, or, as it is usually said, file weight without significant loss of image quality. It is not about image dimensions, but its parameters. Digital cameras with very professional matrices record high-quality images, many of which, after being transferred to the computer, carry a lot of unnecessary information that does not have a major impact on quality of the image and unnecessarily increase its weight. Even common tools for image compression can reduce file weight by up to 40% without losing quality or with only small, virtually unnoticeable changes. More advanced graphics modules may deliver even better results.
Why is image compression so important?
The higher the compression level, the smaller the file size, and thus the easier and more free uploading as well as smaller website weight. Too large images cause problems with page loading, increase time necessary for display and, moreover, negatively affect a visual structure and arrangement of elements. Everyone must have experienced the situation when time necessary to load interesting website content was so long that eventually the page was rejected. Image compression is a process preventing such events. It allows for uploading graphic image files that are not large, do not cause loading and displaying problems, do not slow down the process, and, at the same time ,the images do not lose their quality.
Image compression vs. SEO
Another important issue for image compression is how this process affects SEO, i.e. activities related to making the website more attractive for a search engine robot. SEO aim at increasing visibility in search engine results after entering the keywords. Each search engine has a so-called robot which each day searches Internet resources and award points to visited sites. The more attractive and friendly the site seems to it, the higher the rating. And it is attractiveness of a website that affects its result in the search engine. How does image compression affect this process? In the context of SEO, the most important aspect is so called referring system, i.e. links that direct to a website contained on other pages in a natural way, preferably inside texts. The more such commands, the higher the page ranking. Linking and saturation with keywords is not everything. The search engine algorithm also checks website technical values, such as: correctness of the programming code, structure clarity, but also page loading time. And that is the key issue here. The more time a website needs to be displayed, the less attractive it is to the search engine robot. Too long load time may even result in awarding minus points in the ranking, and thus push the page to a further ranking in search results. Meanwhile, as analyses show, 90% of Internet users visit only 3-5 top pages suggested by the search engine. So the tradeoff is worth it. Compression reduces image size, and thus significantly shortens the time needed for page loading. The second issue is the fact that, according to analyses, among websites that need more time than 90 seconds to load, as many as 51% of entries are rejected. Every other Internet user will not enter such a page, despite the fact that the link will be noticed in the search engine. There is, therefore, a positive relationship between image compression and SEO and taking care of a large number of visits.
Image compression in WordPress
In most cases, to compress the image and optimize the website to a satisfactory level that will not delay its display, the process must be done manually with the use of client’s ftp and graphics programs. WordPress is, however, a friendly service that will do the job for the page owner. And precisely, everything will be done by WordPress plugin. As you know, there are a great number of various tools that can be installed on this website. Users can choose between free plugins and more extensive versions that must be paid for. Even free plugins can significantly improve functionality of our images, but they have some limitations, such as working with files only up to 1MB.
Is ShortPixel the best plugin for image compression?
ShortPixel Image Optimizer, as this is a name of this tool, has two versions. You can use the free one and a more extensive product, for which you have to pay. ShortPixel is a WordPress plugin that, in terms of image optimization, leaves the competition far behind. What is convenient for the user is automatic operation. Images are compressed when they are uploaded to the server. Of course, the plugin may be also run manually with a certain extent of option change. The user can choose between three compression algorithms. Lossless compresses as much as possible without losing even a bit of quality. Lossy is the maximum compression to the smallest size regardless of the effect on image quality, while the middle algorithm is a compromise between the two above-mentioned. This algorithm is the best choice if you want high-quality images and a friendly structure of the website, which will load quickly. It is, for example, a great way to create a photographer’s portfolio. The tool has many additional functions, such as converting the CMYK – RGB colour scheme, deleting EXIF data and others. A great advantage of ShortPixel is the possibility of using the tool free of charge with a processing limit of a hundred images per month. After this time, optimization can be made again. Contrary to the competition, the free version has no size limit of the image with which the plugin can work. Thanks to this, a free plan is definitely enough for majority of users. Using this plugin ensures the best page optimization, secures very high image quality, does not extend the load time, making it more attractive for the search engine robot, thus allowing its free SEO.
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