Alt text isn’t the most fascinating thing to read or write about.
Unless you live, eat, and sleep in the world of search engine optimization, alt text isn’t something you spend your days thinking about. If you have a website, newsletter, or blog, you need to start thinking about it.
Hannah Hill wrote an article about SEO for Authors that is a great starting point. I’m personally a huge fan of SEOMoz‘s blog.
So why exactly is alt text so important?
Search Engines are Blind
That’s why they send an army of bots to crawl your site. They want to know what information is on your page and how they should index it within their systems. They need to know if you are playing by their rules and how they will reward you for your actions.
When the bots start crawling your site, there are certain elements they are frantically looking for. But even bots have limitations. They can only read. They can’t watch videos or interpret what photos mean.
Alt Text Tells the Bots your “Hidden” Messages
If you have taken the time to pick out a photo that encapsulates the theme of your blog post or page, you should take the few extra seconds to fill out the alt text.
Good text encapsulates what your image was about. You need to give meaningful information instead of falling into the trap of keyword stuffing. Search engines aren’t the only ones that need alt text. Not all of your readers are able to view images on their computer. If they use a screen reader or other assistive technology, it will pick up the alt text. It needs to make sense and help tell your story.
It will be difficult at first but you are a writer. You can do this.
- SEO is a crazy game and you have to know the rules if you want to survive. – Click to tweet.
- Pictures are worth a thousand words but you need to try to keep your alt text under 50 characters. – Click to tweet.
- What every author needs to know about…Alt Text? – Click to tweet.
Alt Text is Awesome. Now Where Do I Put It?
Remember field trips in grade school? We’re going to take a quick one to the backend of WordPress.
When you go to upload a photo to WordPress, you will see this screen:
Once you upload the file, you’ll see this screen:
If you are uploading images of your books, you need to be filling in your alt text with the appropriate titles.
Three More Things To Keep In Mind While your Create Alt Text
- Use your keywords but don’t stuff them. It needs to be a naturally flowing sentence.
- Make sure your web designer uses alt text for your headers, buttons, and icons. This will affect your SEO.
- If you can’t describe the photo naturally with your keywords, pick a new photo.
Alt text won’t vault you to the top search engine results. But it will help you lay a solid SEO foundation to build on.
What alt text tips do you have?
I’ve been title and alt-texting my images for a while. I’m considering whatever I should start cracking jokes with one of them or not.
Thanks! Just began title and alt-texting my images. Grace
Thanks for explaining this. Looking at the WordPress photo fields, I often wonder why there are so many. I mean, how many different ways do I need to label the same photo. Thanks for boiling it down to “Use your keywords but don’t stuff them. It needs to be a naturally flowing sentence.” I can work with that.
I still don’t understand what WordPress’s “Description” field is for, though.