One of the aspects of SEO that we constantly harp on here is the speed with which your pages load, and one of the things that most determines whether your pages load quickly is how well your image files appear for your users. Page loading speed is one of the most fundamental values in Google’s page ranking algorithm, and as the Internet has developed, people have become increasingly accustomed to having pages load quickly, and increasingly less patient about waiting for them to load. Users invest in fast processors, high-speed Internet, 5G . . . they will move on quickly if your site is holding them up.
There are a lot of things that you can do to help your pages load faster. You can use a good, well-integrated theme. You can use a good hosting service. You can perform regular site maintenance to fix dead links and remove outdated and unnecessary plugins. Lazy loading–serving up only what the user needs as the user needs it–is the website equivalent of Right On Time Delivery, and will also increase end-user experience. One of the easiest things you can do, though, is to optimize your images, and that can be achieved with the addition of one of many different plug-ins.
Here are some that may help:
EWWW Image Optimizer
This is a very lightweight plugin with a lot of users that supports all of the popular image formats, such as JPG, PDF and PNG. EWWW Image Optimizer supports lazy loading, and can easily be converted to the most up-to-date page formats, such as WebP. There’s no limit on the file size that can be compressed, it can add missing dimensions to images (as determined by the PageSpeed Insights tool’s assessment), and preserves the original images. It is available in free and premium versions.
Imagify is a very powerful optimizer that supports JPG, PNG, PDF and GIF. Like EWWW Image Optimizer, it also supports WebP platform and resizes automatically as it optimizes and uploads. You can choose several levels of compression: Normal, Aggressive, and Ultra. It will also make backups of your original images, which is reassuring, and can optimize entire media libraries in bulk. Like EWWW Image Optimizer, it’s available in free and paid versions. Combined with WP Rocket, it can substantially boost load speeds of virtually any site, but is especially effective for more complex ones.
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
Like Imagify, ShortPixel offers three levels of compression: Lossless, Lossy, and Glossy. It supports PNG, JPG, PDF, GIF, and AVID files, as well as WebP. It works in the background, and will automatically optimize new images to your specification, while also conserving the original images. It also comes in a free version which will handle up to 100 images, and a paid version.
Supports all of the popular image formats, but adds “agency features” such as client reporting, remote configuration, monthly client reporting, and others.
Like some others, it can convert for WebP platform, and offers bulk image file optimization at a click, lazy loading, and very fast Content Delivery Network (CDN) functionality. It comes in paid and unpaid versions, though most of what sets it apart–the agency features–are present in the paid versions.
Like WP Compress, Optimole offers built-in CDN functionality, a simple user interface (always a welcome feature), and supports WebP and Retina, as well as lazy loading. Users can choose from 4 kinds of compression: Auto, Low, Medium, and High. Once again, it is available in free and paid versions.
Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Smush is a popular choice. Its interface shows you clearly how much data you are saving on your image compression, and the interface is easy on the eyes, which is reassuring in an image-compression program. It supports various levels of lossy and lossless compression, and lazy loading, and is a very good partner for a WordPress site. The Pro version has all the power any user is likely to need, but the free version is fine for anyone who plans on using only image files of 1 mb or less, which means that if you have anything but a very text-oriented website, you will probably want to pay for Pro. Smush is very highly rated by users.
Is a reasonably powerful free image optimizer that only plays with files of 5 mb or less, but which has a lot of features usually found only in paid plugins. It supports lots of kinds of files, including JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, and BMP, and will optimize in bulk. It optimizes on upload, and also creates backup files. A slider determines the amount of compression.
One Note of Caution, Though . . .
Choose a single image optimization program, and stick with it. Using multiple programs will create unhappy side effects throughout your site. This means that you should give good consideration to what you are committing to, and try to employ a program that gets lots of good user reviews and that is liable to be well supported in the long run.