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How to Optimize Photography and Video for Your Shopify Store

A vibrant and colorful background with abstract shapes that enhances photography and video on your Shopify store.

Visual content directly impacts the perceived value of your brand. This means that high quality photography and video can be the difference between a conversion or no sale at all. In addition to your Shopify store, these make or break visual content pieces can influence purchasing decisions on market channels like Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok.

Here, we explore why photography and videos are important for marketing your Shopify ecommerce store. We also provide tips for optimizing your visual content for the best site performance possible. With this information, you should be able to add photos and videos to your ecommerce marketing strategy without compromising your site performance.

Why is Photography Important in Ecommerce Marketing?

Ecommerce sales are growing online in the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that retail ecommerce sales reached over 200 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2020. This also means that more Americans are feeling comfortable buying products online rather than in-store.

However, being able to browse items online from the living room or couch removes our in-person sensory experience. We cannot physically see, touch or try a product in-person before we make a purchase.

This is where photography plays an important role in selling online. Good photography can replace the missing senses, helping customers better understand your product even though they cannot physically interact with it. This provides the confidence a customer needs in your offerings to add a product to their shopping cart, or make a purchase decision.

But product photography isn’t just as simple as pointing and shooting, or hiring a company with the right equipment, lights and space. After you have all your photography assets in place, you’ll need to optimize them to reduce site page load time, and to increase your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking on Google photos.

5 Tips for Optimizing Photography on Your Shopify Store

1. Name your images descriptively

When you receive product images from your photographer, they will typically come with default titles. However, it’s important to change titles to use relevant keywords to improve your image SEO. This will help your Shopify ecommerce store rank better on search engines like Google. Search engines will crawl your image file names, in addition to the text on your website.

Here is an image by PopSockets of their bestselling Custom PopGrip:

The company could have used a generic name assigned to the image ie. DCIMAGE543.png. Instead, they chose the file name custom-popgrip_01.png

This helps customers who are searching for their product online to find the right product detail page. In the above example, customers may be searching for terms like ‘custom popgrip’ or ‘popgrip custom’.

To figure out what words to use, you can look at your website analytics to find the perfect formula for naming your product image files. Here, you can see what keywords are driving traffic to your website from Google. One great rule of thumb for online retail is to be descriptive and relevant, and always use helpful language.

2. Use alt text attributes to improve web accessibility.

Alt attributes provide text descriptions of your product images in case they don’t load in a website browser. They can also help your Shopify ecommerce website meet web accessibility compliance standards.

When you hover over an image placement, its alt text attribute is shown to the shopper. By using relevant keywords, your webpage will also rank higher in Google’s image search engine.

Urban Planet uses alt text on its product images. When hovering over a product image, a shopper can read a description ie. Long Sleeve Belted Palazzo Jumpsuit.

By filling out each alt text attribute for products on your website, you can ensure all shoppers can understand your images in simple, plain language. You can also include model numbers or serial numbers in your alt attributes to help shoppers find what they are looking for.

3. Use a wide variety of product angles and dimensions.

When running an online store, it’s good practice to show multiple angles of your product. Coming back to the PopSockets example, the company shows more than one view of their Custom PopGrip. 

You can also show product images that indicate the scale of your product, whether it’s large or small. In the above examples, PopSocket provides users with multiple angles of their product in use so a shopper can envision using the Custom PopGrip on their phone.

By showing as many important details and attributes of your product, you can help shoppers find specific features they are looking for. This will also help maximize your sales on Shopify's commerce platform.

4. Reduce the file size of your images and thumbnails.

When a shopper lands on your site, having to wait to load images can deter them from staying. The larger your image file size, the longer it will take for your webpages to load. (If you are a Shopify merchant, the ecommerce solution will automatically compress images, so you don’t need to worry about this.)

Decreasing the size of your images can help increase your page load speed. A faster website also means fewer visitors will click to leave.

To reduce a file size, you can use the “Save for Web” command in Photoshop. This helps adjust the image to the lowest size possible while still maintaining quality. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can try out free image editing tools such as Pixlr, Canva, PicMonkey or GIMP.

5. Know what format to use: GIF, PNG or JPG.

There are three types of image formats that you can use on your Shopify store: JPG, PNG and GIF. Here is a short explanation of each:


A JPG can be compressed which results in high quality images with small file sizes. These are a standard type of image used online. However, they tend to lose quality overtime with re-saves.


PNG images are becoming popular online. They can support more colors than GIFs, and don’t degrade with re-saves like JPEGS can. PNG however are often larger than JPEG images.


A GIF is lower quality than JPEG images. They are often used to support animations, icons, or decorative images. They are better for images with fewer colors, and not for complex photos.

So which image file type should you use? In most cases, JPEGS provide the greatest quality for the smallest image file size.

GIFs are only good for decorative and thumbnail images, but should never be used for high quality photography. PNGs are also a good choice for simple decorative images because of their small file size. Use PNG-8 over PNG-24 for the best results.

Why are Videos Important in Ecommerce Marketing?

Compelling and clean photography help make your products stand out, and make it easier for shoppers to decide to make a purchase. But now, video has also added a new way to deliver information on your product detail pages with support for 3D models and videos. 3D models allow shoppers to “try” on items before they decide to buy. And already, 3D models using AR have been shown to increase conversion rates up to 250% on product pages.

Videos also play an essential role in marketing your products on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. On social channels, videos perform better than all other types of content with higher engagement levels than those with just photos or text. On Pinterest, for example, users are 2.6x more likely to make a purchase after viewing brand video content.

These platforms can be used to promote crowdfunding campaigns, your homepage, product detail pages, and more. But on your product pages, they inform shoppers at the point of sale.

Tips for Optimizing Videos to Market your Shopify Store

1. Use a Variety of Videos to Showcase your Products

You can upload videos directly to Shopify, without having to embed a 3rd party app or embed code. To provide your shoppers with a greater experience of your products, you can use a variety of video content, including

Explainer videos – An explainer video is a short animation used to tell your brand’s story. It describes your products in a way that is memorable and easy to understand.

Product reviews – Product reviews give a detailed description of what’s included with a product. These videos highlight what features are important to your audience.

Testimonials – Testimonials help your products look more valuable and believable. They also increase brand trust by showing that shoppers think you are a reliable seller.

Product demos – Product demos get shoppers excited and interested in your products. They are also a fantastic way to address any product-related challenges or concerns.

Teasers Teaser videos are used to entice your customers to want to learn more. They are built to increase hype for an upcoming product launch, campaign, or new feature.

By incorporating a variety of video content, you can showcase all the different features and functionality of your products. The more information you can provide, the better. This will help your shoppers better understand your products so they can make a faster purchase decision.

2. Host Videos on Youtube to Increase your SEO Ranking

Search results include videos, news, maps, and other formats in addition to ordinary search results. Since Google favors and prioritizes video, product videos hosted on YouTube (a Google owned company) can boost your search engine ranking. And if your competitors don’t use video for their products, you’ll have a better chance of ranking first.

After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. In order to make the most out of the YouTube platform, you can use YouTube Analytics to improve the performance of your videos. As a creator, you can use these analytics to measure and benchmark your video performance. You can also embed your YouTube videos directly onto your Shopify store to boost views and engagement.

Additionally, you can use other 3rd party tools to help you understand YouTube metrics better:

Google Trends – Google trends is a website by Google that helps analyze top search queries in Google search across regions, categories and languages. This tool is helpful so you can find opportunities on creating content around popular topics.

VidIQ – VidIQ is a SaaS product designed to help YouTube creators find topics and keywords for their videos. The tool also has an SEO feature that helps creators find keyword-rich friendly titles, descriptions and tags.

Social Blade – Social blade is a website that tracks social media analytics, including the YouTube platform. It can also help you track user stats on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more popular marketing channels.

3. Use Instagram Video with Instagram Live, Reels, and IGTV

There's a multitude of strategies that businesses can use to attract and convert shoppers on Instagram with video. These include Instagram Live, Reels, and IGTV.

Instagram live enables users to stream videos to followers and engage with them in real time. When a user broadcasts a video, a ring highlights around their profile picture to alert followers so they can join in on the livestream.

Reels is a new feature that lets users record 15-second clip videos, with fun audio, effect and creative editing tools. These can be shared to the wider community through a new space called Explore, offering any brand the chance to reach new customers on a global scale.

IGTV is an Instagram video app that allows users to make longer videos compared to Instagram feeds. This is great for long-form content. It allows your shoppers to watch in full-screen and vertical views. This means they can see your videos without having to rotate their phone.

To learn more about Instagram, read: The Complete Guide to Driving Sales on Instagram

4. Reach Gen Z With Viral Videos on TikTok

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. It’s a platform where you can share short videos that are created with built-in editing tools. Videos are backed with music, sound clips, and voiceover in-app effects with filters and adjusting video speed. You can also create live videos on the platform for added engagement value.

The great part about using TikTok is that videos can go viral, even if you don’t have a large following. This is because the content shown to other users on their home screen (known as the ‘For You” page) is based on a recommendations algorithm that shows content to users based on the content they have previously engaged with. If a video is earning engagement, TikTok will continue to show it to new users, regardless of the creator’s following.

It’s also a great platform to reach Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012). This generation is TikTok’s primary audience (60% of users), and they are just starting to enter the workforce. TikTok provides an opportunity for brands to reach this young audience as they become more prominent consumers in the coming months and years.

To learn more about Tik Tok, read: TikTok Tops 800M Users: Is it Retail’s Next Big Gen Z Acquisition Channel?

5. Improve Your Conversion Rate With 3D and AR

3D models provide benefits for both business owners and shoppers. This is because one model is flexible in the long-term when compared to traditional photography. The same model can be used to generate a variety of assets, including:

  • Animations
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality experiences
  • Lifestyle shots
  • Variations in color
  • Photorealistic Images

For example, Bumbleride has been an early adopter of this technology. The company implemented 3D models to help their shoppers look at eco-friendly strollers. After implementing 3D models, Bumbleride experienced a 33% increase in their conversion rate for strollers, and an increased time on page of up to 21%

To learn more about Diff’s predictions on AR & VR, read: Better Commerce, Better World: Technology, AR & VR

Use Photos and Videos to Market Your Shopify Store

Photos and videos are a powerful way to help you gain more traffic to your online store. As you experiment with these visual strategies, remember to always optimize your content for mobile too. Mobile accounts for approximately 60% of total searches. This will help your content get to the top of Google search engine results.

And remember to always A/B test your photography and videos to help increase your bottom-line. By testing out different formats, colors, special effects and angles, you will learn what your customers prefer based on performance. With this information, you can increase customer loyalty by providing the visuals that your shoppers want to see.

Page load speed is also an important factor for your business success. If your creative assets take too long to load, you may lose a customer’s interest who will leave your site for a competitor’s. Reduce file sizes and use keyword-rich descriptions to index your visuals, and ensure your visual content performs the best it can.

You don’t need to sacrifice your site performance & speed to create a visually appealing ecommerce website. Need Shopify support? Contact us to learn more about our design refresh service, and how our Shopify experts can help you out.

This article originally appeared in the Diff Agency blog and has been published here with permission.

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