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This tweet blew up recently, so I wanted to expand more about my choices and process for image sizing for my blog.
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Did you know that “To increase the likelihood of your content appearing in Discover,” one of the requirements is:
“Include compelling, high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover. Large images need to be at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting, or by using AMP. Avoid using a site logo as your image.“
So says Google.
But Google’s guidelines should not always be taken as gospel. There are tons of reasons and data to support that. They often have a “do as I say, not as I do” approach.
Take what they say with a pinch of salt.
But, even so, I have planned to fix my featured image sizes on my main niche site. And I just started doing that recently.
Based on the above recommendation for images to be at least 1200px in width, I have begun making that change alongside article updates and any new articles.
The result? Well, it’s hardly hard evidence, but I noticed my Google Discover impressions started to rise after many months of nothing:
Before this, my featured images were around the 920px width range.
Piece by piece, I’ll be updating my own featured images, as well as regular images, to fit this 1200px width.
In writing this, I also did some more research on Google’s recommendations for image sizing and found this guideline that applies to regular Article schema types (most blog posts), specifically:
“For best results, we recommend providing multiple high-resolution images (minimum of 50K pixels when multiplying width and height) with the following aspect ratios: 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1.
I had not bothered with this in the past. Google comfortably resizes my featured images and picks out 1:1 ratio boxes to use in Google all the time. The important piece is to have centrally focused images for the best appearance.
There is likely a way to add this schema to each blog post to provide each of these variants to Google. But as I just said, you don’t need to do it, as I’m confident Google does this automatically out of necessity.
So here’s my current recommendation:
Your featured images should be 16:9 ratio. And at least 1200px wide. You can make them 1200px X 675px.
Ideally use your own custom photos with central focal points (the main thing in the center).
I don’t recommend adding heavy text over your featured images, either, as they do not look good when Google clips them into 1:1 ratio images. I’ve made this mistake, which has forced me to do a lot of image updates.
For the images inside your article, some people (like NicheSiteLady) use a smaller width like 800px but at the same ratio.
I’m sure that’s fine to do for the most part, to reduce file sizes and keep up speed on the page. But I also think it might be best to give Google plenty of 1200px wide image options.
Google doesn’t always use the featured image you provided, sometimes they pull a random image from the page (just like they do with SEO descriptions).
Because of that, I’d say keep using 1200px X 675px for all your images but work on reducing file sizes. Changing the kind of photos you use (less complicated/less colors/less pixels) can help there for a start.
Personally, I use Canva* to create all images. Then I’ll export them as a JPG. I use JPG for three reasons:
- JPG is typically a smaller file size than PNG
- JPG is better suited for photos, which is most of my images (if I’m using a graphic heavy or text heavy image, I’ll choose PNG more often)
- JPG can be auto-converted to WebP by most/all caching options
Once I’ve exported my JPG, it’s probably in the 200-300kb range.
Then I use a Mac app I love called ImageOptim, and drop the file in there to crunch the filesize a little more. Eventually, I end up with something closer to 100-150kb range, which I think is good for a website image.
But not all my in-article images will be in landscape orientation. I’ll sometimes consider using portrait.
Why? Well, if you’re on Mediavine, you’ll probably already have noticed them recommending this as a tactic to dramatically increase the size of your page. This opens up more opportunities for ad placements while also engaging the user way more.
When you consider how most visitors are coming from mobile (for most sites), a portrait image fits in the screen view more naturally and incentivizes the user to scroll more. That could mean better engagement, more time on page, more trust.
Something you will have to test out for yourself.
So far, I’ve seen portrait orientation work really well in product review images, travel photography, and food. If you’re doing any of these, give it a shot.
Have your regular 16:9 featured image, at least 1200px width, then mix it up for in-article images by changing orientation and see what results you get.
Hope this was useful.