A few weeks ago, everyone was talking about next-generation images, this being a new parameter for SEO ranking. Therefore, in this article, we tell you what WebP is and how to convert images to WebP format, among other things.

First of all, you have to know that loading speed has always been one of the most important settings when optimizing a website. However, image optimization is not usually the first option for many despite that it influences the loading speed of a website. When you finish reading this post about what WebP is, we hope you change your mind and give it the importance it deserves.

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What is WebP?

Search engines use different criteria to evaluate websites. In this sense, not only the traffic that reaches your website matters but also the quality data of the users. This means that not only is it important that many users arrive, but it is also important how long users stay viewing your content or the number of pages they visit.

The use of caching mechanisms or smaller, more compressed code is one of the most used solutions to improve loading speed, however, the use of optimized images is often left aside.

This is where images in WebP format have emerged, since this format, which has been developed by Google, manages to reduce the loading time of images on the Internet and reduce their size.

In short, WebP is a new image compression format that is causing a sensation, especially among web developers, making it the recommended format for website development.

WebP is open source , so it can be used by everyone, and it manages to reduce the weight of the image by over 30% compared to the same image in other formats such as PNG or JPEG without losing quality.

Furthermore, one of its strengths is that it supports both lossy and lossless compression, and is a format derived from the VP8 video standard.

Features of WebP images

WebP’s main objective is to reduce the size of images on the web as much as possible. Additionally, WebP allows for both lossy and lossless compression methods, making it the most suitable format for both photographs and small images and graphics. The compression characteristics, as well as other core properties of the WebP format, can be summarized as follows:

  • Compression (Lossy) – WebP’s lossy compression is based on VP8 keyframe encoding.
  • Compression (lossless): WebP’s lossless compression is based on different techniques that transform image parameters and data. In this case, the LZ77 algorithm is used, among others.
  • Transparency – The 8-bit alpha channel offered by the WebP format can also be used for lossy RGB compression.
  • Metadata: WebP can include the EXIF ​​and XMP metadata normally created by cameras.
  • Colour Profile – The Google format may include built-in ICC profiles (records that describe the colour space).
  • Animations: The WebP format allows image sequences to be stored.

Advantages and disadvantages of WebP

The JPG or JPEG format has been the most used on the Internet for decades, however, WebP has proven to be much more efficient thanks to one of the main advantages over JPG, since it offers a lossy and a lossless compression method. However, this form offers other advantages such as:

  • Space saving: As we have already mentioned, the WebP compression format means that images take up much less space on our disk or server with the same quality as an image in JPG or PNG format.
  • Reduced compression time: Not only is it important that they take up little space, but it is also crucial that loading in the browser is fast. In this sense, the format created by Google also far exceeds the decoding and loading times of other image formats.
  • Transparency support: In addition, it is a format that supports image transparency.
  • Animation support: And if that were not enough, it also supports animation, which also makes it a great rival to the GIF format.

After knowing the advantages of the WebP format, you may be wondering if this format is so good, why is it currently used by only 1.3% of websites? Well, the main reason is that WebP is relatively new and has so far only been adopted by the main web browsers and image viewing/editing software.

This makes the WebP format have limitations with regards to some browsers, since it is not possible to open this file format with most image viewing applications. For example, this format is not supported by all browsers and software, as Apple Safari and Internet Explorer cannot open them.

What differences does WebP have with JPG and PNG?

To learn the differences between the multiple image formats that exist, we will first have to know what each of them consists of.

The JPG format is the standard format for photographs, as it reproduces color and shadow images very well. In addition, it supports different levels of compression, in which the smaller the space, the faster the loading. This format is the most used on the Internet because we can save a lot of space thanks to its lossy compression function. We are losing details of the photograph, but in exchange we save loading time.

On the other hand, the PNG format has two versions: 8 and 24 Bit. The first is very similar to the GIF format, and the second reproduces the color in the same way as JPG. PNG compresses without loss, and is mainly used when we have no problem having a very large file, in logos or in images with transparency.

Finally, the WebP format competes directly with JPG, since as we have seen previously, the latter is the most used for Internet images, and Google has developed the WebP format to optimize this process. Thanks to the lossless compression capacity of WebP, we can upload images to the Internet, but without loss of quality, in addition to doing so with the space savings that lossy compression of the JPG format entailed.

How to convert JPG images to WebP

Transfer JPG/PNG to Webp with plugins

They do not convert the images that you have uploaded to Webp, but rather they keep them as they are and the URLs do not change. 

  • Webp Express → WebP Express is one of the free plugins found in the WordPress repository to convert JPG/PNG to WebP. In this case, it only serves to convert to WebP. Its interface is advanced and has many options, so we may have a lot of doubts when configuring how both the conversion and the way of serving work.
  • Webp Converter for Media → Webp Converter for Media is a simple and easy-to-use plugin, since you only have to install it and upload the images. Once that is done, your current images will be converted to a new format, which you will automatically receive with much higher quality.
  • Imagify → Imagify is one of the best plugins to optimize jpg, png, pdf and gif files (animated or not), as well as convert WebP images. This plugin will help you gain those precious minutes you need to improve the loading speed and performance of your website. In addition, you can use it directly in WordPress to add the images with reduced weight and better quality directly to your website.

Other ways to convert JPG/PNG to WebP

  • Online Converter → This free online converter to WebP allows you to convert your images to the WebP format used by Google. You will only have to upload your photo or indicate a link to the image and click on “convert file”. The file will be converted instantly and you will be able to download the WebP image as soon as you have converted it. It also offers you the advantage of installing its plugin in your Google Chrome browser.
  • Convertio → With this online converter you will only have to upload the files and choose the WebP format. Once the conversion is done, the file will be saved automatically.
  • Photopea → It is an advanced and completely free online image editor. No registration is required, its use is easy and intuitive thanks to the fact that it has a very simple interface similar to that of any other image editing tool. Despite being a web utility, it offers advanced features and all kinds of resources for professional photo editing.