Images are an integral part of most websites. No doubt, a striking image helps to attract viewers and hold their attention. Does this mean that you should go ahead and add as many images as you can? Sadly, that’s not the right way to go about it. Images should not only be relevant, they should also be optimized for the web. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll be glad to know that there are a number of WordPress plugins to optimize images before you upload them to your website.
It’s a fact that crisp, high resolution images make a website visually appealing. But it’s also true that these high resolution images increase the size of the image files. If your site is huge on images, this can slow down your website a great deal. Large file sizes are bad for website loading speed. In turn, slow websites can affect your site’s SEO negatively. So you see why it’s important to compress the images and reduce file size before upload to the website. The themes in this list can help you improve website speed, and for plugins to optimize images, read on.
Compression of images can result in loss of data relating to the images. This is generally referred to as lossy compression. But it’s also possible to compress images with minimal loss of data. WordPress has a number of plugins to help with image optimization, including image compression. These plugins help improve site speed and as a result, improve SEO as well.
Let’s start with the free plugins.
WP Smush is a fast and user-friendly plugin that compresses JPEG, GIF and PNG images on its own servers. It strips meta data from JPEG files, but in case you want to preserve EXIF data, that’s possible too.
You can set up the plugin to automatically optimize all your new images as they upload to your site. Optimize the images individually by clicking on them in the Media Library. Then select the Smush option in the Attachment Details window. Once you select the height and width for the image, you can resize it by scaling down the image. What’s helpful is that the original images remain untouched. Only the version of the image that WordPress uploads is resized.
The free plugin offers lossless optimization techniques and an option to optimize in bulk up to 50 files at a time. Existing files can also be compressed and this is where bulk optimization can prove to be handy. WP Smush can pick any image file from any directory for compression and is compatible with most WordPress media library management plugins. The WP Smush Stats sections shows details of file changes during compression. When it comes to multisites, you can go with global settings or configure the plugin for each site individually.
A premium version allows a greater number of compressions at a time and offers a lossy compression technique that greatly reduces file sizes.
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer uses lossless compression to automatically optimize your JPG, PNG, or GIF images even as you upload them to your site. It can also optimize images in existing posts and pages. It optionally converts images to a file format that displays the smallest size of the images. If you wish, you can opt for lossy compression for even bigger reduction in file sizes.
If you have a huge number of images is your media library, it can optimize the entire lot in one go. The one main advantage with EWWW Image Optimizer is that it handles all the compression within your own server, without resorting to any external third party service. Hence, the optimization happens much faster. But for this to work, you need to set up the plugin correctly in your local WordPress folder. Some users may find this difficult, and to overcome this difficulty, users can opt to optimize the images in the cloud. All communications are secured with SSL encryption and your original images are backed up for free for 30 days.
Imsanity automatically handles huge images by finding a size that’s larger than necessary for typical website use, but still manages to fit in the browser. You can set the height, width and quality for the image. When any contributor uploads an image that’s larger than these dimensions, it’ll automatically be resized.
To free up some disk space, this plugin can resize all previously uploaded images as well. This plugin will help if your blog has many contributors who are not too keen on resizing each image. With this plugin, you can also opt to convert BMP files to JPG before resizing. The plugin can also skip resizing certain files by renaming the files.
Set up is easy, simply install and activate. The plugin relies on the native WordPress image scaling functions.
Kraken.io Image Optimizer
Kraken.io supports both lossless and intelligent lossy compression. It can compress JPG, PNG and GIF files, including GIF animated files. It optimizes both new image uploads as well as existing uploads. You’ll need to sign up for a free account and obtain an API that can be used on any number of websites.
Besides the images that you upload, it optimizes the generated thumbnails as well. The maximum height and width of the images can be set, to prevent users from uploading huge images. Images can be optimized individually or on a bulk basis, after specifying the maximum number of optimizations to happen at a time. While resizing, it’s possible to enhance the images using advanced techniques. The optimization happens on Kraken’s servers and is subsequently returned to your WordPress.
The default setting in the Kraken Image Optimzer is an ‘intelligent lossy’ technique that compresses images a great deal without compromising too much on quality. However, on the settings page, it also allows you to manually switch to lossless compression. Besides, you can set a specific value for your JPG images and also specify a maximum resolution for your images. You can choose to retain or discard EXIF data.
After entering your API credentials, you can adjust your preferences in the settings page and save them. Thereafter you can start optimizing images in the media library. This plugin lays emphasis on finding the right balance between file size and image quality.
The Pro Version allows gathering the images from any URL, crunching them up and returning them to you in a ZIP archive. All background images are optimized as well.
Short Pixel Image Optimizer
From a neat interface, Short Pixel Image Optimizer enables you to choose between lossy and lossless compression. Once you install the plugin and tweak settings, all JPG, PNG, GIF, WebP and PDF images will be automatically optimized, but if you wish, you can disable the automatic optimization. Conversion of JPEG, PNG and GIF to WebP is also possible. As the plugin is compatible with WP Retina 2x, you can compress retina images as well.
The plugin also optimizes the image thumbnails created by WordPress during the upload process. The glossy JPEG compression feature is sure to delight photographers. You can chooses to retain or discard the EXIF data.
A bulk optimization tool helps to compress all existing images with a single click. Besides compressing images that reside in the media library, the plugin also compresses images from galleries like NextGEN or those added via FTP. It automatically saves a backup of every image you upload to a new folder.
To complete the setup process, you’ll need to submit your email id and obtain an API key. A free signup entitles you to 100 image compressions per month, not counting images that suffer less than 5% reduction. For compressions beyond this limit, you can purchase credit of additional tasks, or earn them by referring new users. Credits are charged only for successful optimzations. A single signup can be used for an entire multisite network, without having to obtain the API key for each individual site. You can purchase additional credit for as less as $4.99 for 5000 images.
Compress JPEG & PNG Images
Tiny PNG and Tiny JPG are free online services for reducing images sizes. Compress JPEG &PNG helps to integrate your WordPress with these services. Like the other plugins, it automatically resizes image while uploading, as well as resizes existing images either individually, or in bulk. You can adjust the height and width of the images, preserve metadata and pick the sizes you want to compress – thumbnail, medium or full size. Compression of animated PNGs is also possible.
The processing of images happens in the Tiny JPG or Tiny PNG servers. These services analyse your image, determine the best possible mode to compress and then effect the compression. They reduce the file size by as much as 40 -60% in case of JPG images and 50 – ۸۰% for PNG images, with minimal loss in image quality.
A free API key entitles you to 100 images a month. For additional images, you’ll need to pay a small fee. If you configure the API key in your wp-config.php file, there’ll be no need to obtain multiple API keys in a multisite. If necessary, the bulk optimization option can be used to optimize all the images in your media library.
WP Retina 2x
WP Retina 2x creates image files for high DPI devices. The images are generated automatically and displayed on retina devices. It’s unique in that it generates retina images even for full size images. The advantage of using this plugin is that you can use images of a specific size that looks good on a page without being true to size.
If your’re using standard themes, you can go with the default settings. The plugin generates the images in many ways, is fast and does not create any database files. The main purpose of this plugin is to convert your images into retina ready images. But to optimize them further, you’ll need optimzation plugins like EWWW which are compatible with this plugin.
There’s a premium version available as well which supports full size retina images, lazy loading and several other options.
Imagify is an online service that helps to speed up websites by optimizing the images automatically. The Imagify plugin for WordPress automatically optimizes the images in the media library to the compression levels that you choose. The authors promise that there’ll hardly be any loss in image quality.
The plugin optimizes all your images including thumbnails and retina images, as it is compatible with WP Retina 2X. It’s also compatible with WooCommerce and NextGen gallery. The bulk optimizing feature enables optimization of all your images with a single click. You’ll not have to resize your images before uploading them as the plugin can handle resizing as well. Three levels of compression are possible, with varying levels of loss in image quality. The normal compression uses a lossless method, so there’s no loss in quality. The Agressive and Ultra mode compress images a great deal, but there’ll be a reduction in the quality of images.
By default the plugin removes EXIF data, but you can choose to retain it. As all the images are backed up, you can always revert to the original images whenever you want. Upto 250 images per month can be optimized for free, with an additional 25 MB on registration. Beyond that, you’ll have to opt for the premium pricing plans.
The free version of Optimus rather limits usage by imposing a 100kb file size cap on the images that you can process. By default, the images are automatically compressed up to 70% as you upload them, and the compression achieved is displayed as a percentage within the media library. The optimization happens in the Optimus server, which returns the compressed image to you. All extra information saved while processing images that’s not necessary for display is removed. You can choose to retain author, copyright and EXIF data and settle for correspondingly lower compression.
The settings are quite simple, and so it’s a good choice for those who do not want to fine tune the images too much. Even the files sizes that WordPress generates are optimized. The plugin supports conversion to the new WebP format, WooCommerce, multisites and bulk optimization.
The premium plans allow compression of larger file sizes and come with many more features.
SEO Friendly Image
When you add an ALT tag to your image, it helps to improve the SEO of your web pages. What happens is that when your image fails to load, the text is displayed in the placeholder. This not only helps the reader understand what’s missing, it’s also read by screen readers. Screen readers help the visually impaired to read text from a screen and the ALT text will ensure that they are also able to understand the image. ALT tags describe your images to search engines.
Often it may happen that you forget to add an ALT tag to your images. The SEO Friendly Images
automatically edits all your images with proper ALT and TITLE attributes to help boost your SEO. You can adjust the words that are to appear in the ALT and Title tags of the image, in the settings page of the plugin. This plugin optimizes your images for search engines.
You can team up this plugin with any other image optimization plugin to completely take care of the optimization of all your mages before upload. The plugin has not been updated for more than two years, but the large number of active installs earn this plugin a place in this list. It helps your pages to rank higher in any image based search.
Media File Renamer
Media File Renamer uses the titles of your images to automatically rename them for better SEO. It also automatically updates all the reference to these images – their links in posts, pages, custom post types and metadata.
You’ll see the new names in a display in the Media Manager and using a button, you can rename the file staright away. From a small dashboard, you can also choose to rename all your files in bulk. If you’re up to it, you can use the plugin’s filters to choose a way in which the files are renamed. A lock option will prevent further changes in file names.
File names are important for SEO and appropriate keywords can improve search engine results. The pro version allows manual renaming and a few additional features. This plugin is to be used with care, as changing file names improperly can result in broken links and even total mayhem.
Resize Image After Upload
Besides automatically resizing JEPG, PNG and GIF images during upload, Resize Image After Upload can optimize existing files on your website. It can force re-compression of uploaded JPEGs and convert PNGs to JPEGs. After installing the plugin, you’ll need to edit the height and width of images in the settings page.
Note that the plugin will not resize the images after upload. The recompression will result in discarding the original uploaded file including EXIF data.
Image files generally take longer to load than text files and this can bring down the overall speed of the page. Lazy loading is a technique by which the loading of heavy files are delayed and quick loading elements are allowed to load first. This hold’s a viewer’s interest until the entire file loads.
Lazy Load helps with lazy loading of images and other byte heavy files on your website. The plugin does not require any extensive setup and loads an image only when it is visible in the viewport.
Another sound plugin for lazy loading is BJ Lazy Load which allows a few simple customization options.
A few Premium Plugins
If it’s a premium plugin that you need you can take a closer look at these three plugins,
- Automatic Image Compression which compresses images automatically on upload and allows bulk compression of images. It supports JPEG, PNG and GIF. Previously uploaded images can also be compressed.
- Hakros can compress images by upto 95%. You can compress images in bulk and choose to retain the original version. Though highly rated, the volume of sales is rather low.
- Prestashop Presta Speed is chiefly for optimizing images in a Prestashop website. Not just images, it optimizes the database as well, besides improving configuration to increase speed of access at both the front and backend.
Image optimization is only one part of website optimization. There’s a lot more you can do to speed up your website. A speedy website is essential for a high ranking with search engine results.
And if we’ve missed out any quality plugin, do share it with us in the Comments section.