I read a blog post a while back titled “How to Optimize Content When You Don’t Know Jack about SEO” and it made me think of all the SEO-related questions I get. Search engine optimization is definitely an important function of digital marketing, but I think a lot of PR professionals would rather just outsource the work to someone else. However, it is an important skill to have and just about anyone working in communications will need to know the basics of SEO at some point. I definitely do not claim to be an SEO expert, but I do know a few basic tricks and I seem to be the go-to guy at the agency I work at when someone has a question. This blog post focuses on using image tags on the WordPress platform.
Before getting too deep into things, please keep in mind that SEO is constantly evolving as search engines (namely Google) are always tweaking their algorithms. These tips are also coming from a blogger’s point-of-view and can be easily incorporated into the typical WordPress blog post.
Boost SEO by Using Images with the Appropriate Tags/Description
I’m a firm believer in the power of images to boost your chances of showing up in searches. For one, people perform image searches a lot. Another reason is it allows you to throw in a bunch of extra searchable data that Web crawlers love. For bloggers on WordPress, that means filling in every field in the form that appears after you upload an image (shown below).
A few things worth pointing out. Notice the original file name is “boost_seo_with_meta_tags.jpg,” which not only describes the image, but also aligns with the topic of this blog post. This is important for a couple reasons. WordPress will automatically create a link incorporating the original file name in the URL so it’s important to use a descriptive file name. Therefor, uploading a file named something like “photo.jpg” is going to do you no good.
Title and alternate text can be rather confusing as they both do essentially the same thing, but they each serve a slightly different purpose. Basically, alternate or “alt” text is meant to be an alternative information source for an image–it should describe the image without the user actually having to see it. This is important for browsers that have images disabled and for meeting ADA standards. The image title is meant to supply additional information to an image. The key takeaway here is to use both a title and alt tag, but to use different phrases in each. Obviously it is a good idea to use your primary keywords (in my case “SEO” and “meta tags”) in both tags, but to use them in a natural way and without “stuffing” them with your keywords. If this is confusing, I suggest reading this article in Search Engine Journal.
The caption tag is pretty straightforward. Not every image in every blog post necessarily needs a caption and sometimes you might choose to leave it out for aesthetics or other reasons. However, you will be missing out on some free SEO “juice” when doing this so it’s definitely a good idea to use a caption when you can. Again, this should either describe the image or otherwise provide additional information or supply additional context to your blog post. Keep your keywords in mind, but don’t force them.
Be sure to provide a description tag as well. You have a little more freedom to provide more context here and to freely incorporate your keywords. However, there’s really no need to get too carried away as this information is not visible except when viewing the page source. But Web crawlers like them, so don’t leave it blank.
Finally, you’ll notice the last field contains the link URL. You are free to change this to link to another website or another page within your blog, but according to SEO expert Tom Pick, you’ll pass some SEO “juice” when doing this.
Top image via DigitalSherpa.