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We are building a website for a client and we are trying to make it as SEO optimized as humanly possible and the question now is how to deal with images. Here is an example of pagespeed result: enter image description here

It mentions different formats of images to use, however, it looks like the JPEG ones are not very well supported by browsers, and WebP is mostly supported.

The question is, is it even worth dealing with conversions into a different format or simply compressing the images and making them smaller is sufficient enough?

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For the most part I think that compressing the images with higher JPG compression should suffice. I say this because we do know that Google cares a lot about speed - and the reason they are advising you of the sizes of your images is because they transfer unnecessary data and slow down your connection.

I don't have an authoritative source, but according to https://www.seroundtable.com/google-crawling-bandwidth-benefit-jpeg-vs-webp-30021.html and the linked twitter link John Mueller of Google imply that image format is not as important as image size and purpose.

I observe your images do not have meaningful names, and I postulate - without evidence - that in addition to Google considering the images as not well optimised, Google is picking up these meaningless names and concluding because the names are not meaningful in the context of conveying information pertinent to your site (ie they are just eye candy), and should thus not take up a lot of space.

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  • This is interesting! I know that the names of images are pretty important, but does it mean that if the name is meaningful then the size is not important (or less important)?
    – Alex A.
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 21:53
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    I can't definitively answer that, but I'm farily certain both aspects are important for different reasons - exactly how important depends on your goals, but for SEO, certainly having both right can't hurt.
    – davidgo
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 21:56
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    I'm not sure exactly what Google's motivation is, but they are pushing these new image formats hard. By creating the impression that the new formats could help SEO, they are getting websites to use them before there is browser support in an effort to pressure other browsers into having to support them. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 13:19
  • Purely an opinion, but I wonder if Google is pushing new formats, as well as the new GA4 to save costs on their end? Less storage requirements in the new image format and less server power needed due to less real time features in GA4.
    – Trebor
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 18:25
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Re from Ostermiller: "I'm not sure exactly what Google's motivation is, but they are pushing these new image formats hard. By creating the impression that the new formats could help SEO, they are getting websites to use them before there is browser support in an effort to pressure other browsers into having to support them."

I'm not sure either why this is happening. But I've continually read that the text in an image file is searchable and used for search. It's also obviously helpful to reading code on a page that might have many images. If I'm looking for one of a blue dog collar, then the file name that had that text would be simpler.

But with webp file names, all those benefits may be history, as files all read like MTk2MzAyMjAxODE4MTk1NDgz. My impression is that Google image search is becoming useless for most users. I personally have run, not walked, away from many of the major sitebuilders like Shopify and many others that will now not produce a human-readadable .jpg in the code. In fact, if I upload a clearly-described jpg image, I can only save that same image from the displayed page in the webp format.

So I have no idea if that image would ever be searchable without an alt tag. But I know that many, if not most everyday website designers will often skip over alt tagging. Many Shopifiers don't know what it is. However, Squarespace and Wix will not accept a webp image to upload. Nor will common graphics programs like Photoshop Elements 2020. And the world's largest art site, Fine Art America, doesn't recognize that format either. Craigslist, for one, will allow a webp image to be uploaded, but then automatically converts it to a readable .jpg. Maybe they assume the webp format will not be seen in searches.

Joe R.

Addendum update: I've been asking tech support at a number of major website builders about this. They seem practically unaware or unconcerned about the issue. Or a few that understand why I'm curious about why anyone would want to see their simple, descriptive jpg get magically transformed into a webp, like this one: 9eda45a3ef19ab7f33b3448ff78f85aa_b5a7caa6-a1fb-46a4-b75e-3515dc7a7b4e_360x.

The best informed techs all said to download an app or run some program from another website to convert it back. Some said to just use Photoshop and resave it. All that so my image, which took an average of 1/100th of a second to be seen, can now more speedily be seen at 1/200th of a second.

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