I realise that I may be teaching my (blogging) granny to suck eggs here, but a couple of friends have recently been asking me how to improve their SEO, and I thought it was worth putting a blog post together about Alt Tags and how they work.
An Alt Tag is an alternative title for an image you will use in your blog post. Your alt tag will not be visible to your blog readers, but search engines who “read” your page will pick it up as a keyword and it all helps your blog post rank a bit higher in the search engines. An alt tag will not throw your blog post to the top of the search engine rankings, but it will help to improve your SEO just enough to make it worth doing.
The only people who may be aware of your alt tag would be visually impaired people, alt tags were orginally meant to provide a text description of pictures, so people with screen-reader software would get a spoken-word description rather than it just read “IMAGE 123” for example, so ideally your alt tags should still accurately describe the image for visually impaired people.
We all like to add images to our blog posts, it makes them prettier and it breaks up the text a bit to make it easier to read. I use WordPress to blog, so I can only really tell you how to add an alt tag in WordPress, but I can’t imagine it would be that hard to do on a different platform.
To add an Alt Tag to your image on WordPress you can do it one of two ways…
- Go to “Add Media” and upload your image.
- Select the image and the “Attachment Details” menu should appear on the right hand side of your screen. You should see a box called “Alt Text”. This is where you put your keyword. I am using my recipe for Lebkuchen Cake as an example, my chosen keyword for that blog post was “Lebkucken Cake”, so my alt tag for that image was “Lebkuchen Cake”.
- Enter your chosen keyword into the “Alt Text” box and click on “Insert into post”. You have added an alt tag to your post.
If your image is already inserted into the post and you want to add, change, check or update your alt tag, it’s pretty easy.
- Make sure you’re in the “Visual” view (rather than the text view) and find the image you want to edit or check.
- Click on the image and a small toolbar will appear with alignment options and a pencil icon, click on the pencil icon and it will take you into “Image Details”. This is where you can add or edit your alt tag.
- Insert your chosen alt tag and click on “Update”. Remember to make it the same as your chosen keyword for your blog post.
You will need to alt tag every image you use in your blog post, but it’s really very simple and can make a difference to your SEO.
There are also title tags (eg title=”lebkuchen cake”) which do the same thing, but this is the pop-up caption that appears on-screen when you point to the image with your cursor. Another place for SEO keywords and again, keep it relevant because there’s even more chance a human will point to your picture and see this caption pop up.
It’s also worth noting that the WordPress template you use will need to pull the alt text from the image library into the page code. If the template’s not got anything in it about alt text, then it won’t get put into the HTML when the post is published, so you’ll have to add the alt tags in the second way I showed you. However, most of the most common WordPress templates have this built in as standard, but it’s worth checking on all the same.
So in a nutshell (or 699 words) that’s all you need to know about alt tags and what they do. Any questions?
With thanks to Bobble Bardsley for teaching me the finer points of SEO and helping plug the gaps in my knowledge.