One Simple Tip to Improve Your Blog’s Search Engine Ranking: Add Alternate Text to Images

By: Grant Peterre

If you are publishing a blog post in WordPress that contains images, there is one simple trick that can produce huge results for your online visibility: add Alternate (Alt) Text to your images.

In the WordPress photo editor, users have the opportunity to add Alternate Text to images.

Adding Alt Text is valuable for two reasons:

First, if an image fails to load in a viewer’s web browser, the Alt Text will appear as a backup. This will explain to the viewer what should have appeared in the screen.

Second, and far more important, the Alt Text serves as “tagging” for an image. In the same way that users can tag articles with relevant keywords for search engines to find, tagging an image helps to strengthen the association between image and text. The Alt Text is included in the back-end HTML coding of the image, which is exactly what Google algorithms search through when they are picking out keywords. As a result of adding Alt Text, your page will achieve a higher ranking in search engines. So, tag images the same way you would tag an article – with phrases or words relevant to the image that someone might search for when seeking out a specific article.

For example, let’s say you post an infographic detailing the generation gap of social media users that you have tagged “Promote My Practice, Generation Gap, Infographic, Social Media Usage”. A person views the infographic, and then, a month later, wants to search for the infographic again. If the person does not remember the source of the image, they will likely search through Google (or another search engine).

Remember, Google cannot read images. If the image is not tagged, the user would need to remember title of the article or the textual content (if any was included in the post in addition to the infographic). Without the image’s Alt Text, Google will only search through the text, and therefore not be able to find the exact article.

However, if you have tagged the image with keywords, Google will be able to read the image description. If the user searching for your infographic cannot remember the details of the post other than the image, a search of something like “Social Media, Generation Infographic,” would enable search engines to locate the post based on the keywords that you entered in the Alt Text tagging.

There are two places in WordPress drafts that you can access/edit the Alt Text:

Option 1: In your blog draft, once you have clicked “add media” and selected your photo, you have the ability to add the Alt Text before inserting your photo into the post. To the right of the selected image, you will see a group of text boxes to customize the image. You will find a box for adding Alt Text here:

where to add alt text tagging to images in wordpress

Option 2: If your photo has already been inserted into your draft, click on your photo so that it is highlighted and then click the edit button (the pencil). You will see this screen appear:

where to add alt text tagging to images in wordpress

Keep this tip in mind when uploading images to your blog! Spending the extra ten seconds to add Alternate Text to your images can produce huge results for your blog posts in the future.

One thought on “One Simple Tip to Improve Your Blog’s Search Engine Ranking: Add Alternate Text to Images

  1. Just an additional consideration here. Adding alt text to images just for the sake of adding keywords is not good for accessibility (for those with visual, motor, or cognitive disabilities). Some images should not have alt text at all, but should be null. The purpose of alt text is to DESCRIBE the image, and the content in the image if it’s used for text, for those who cannot see it, provided the surrounding content does not do the same thing. If an image is simply there for decoration, and adds nothing additional to the surrounding content, the alt should be null. Adding a bit of alt text just for keywords, as in your example, to something as complex as an infographic is just not good for accessibility, because that alt text cannot possibly describe the content in it, making the infographic completely inaccessible to anyone using assistive technology (infographics should be fully described, in text, on a separate page if it’s not in the body text). Alt text should also not contain the words ‘photo of’, ‘picture of’ etc. Adding alt text just for SEO keywords, at the expense of accessibility, will negatively affect the user experience for those folks using assistive technology.

    Making your blogs accessible does not mean sacrificing SEO. In fact, since a search engine bot is quite literally a deaf, and blind ‘user’, if your pages are made accessible correctly, it will be also be good for SEO. Your content should accommodate all users, not just those who can see.

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