Photos were once a bit of a blogger afterthought. Most of us (particularly in the reputation management space) thought of them as eye candy. Photos made pages look nicer, we thought, but they really weren’t doing anything for our SEO scores or our overall page health scores.
But here’s the thing: If you spend just a little extra time on your photo posting routine, you could transform your photos from candy to cultivator. And when you’re done, you could get the traffic boost you’ve been looking for.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Amend Your File Name
The average digital camera assigns a numeric file name to each image you take. So chances are, your photos come with names like “00009.jpg,” which says absolutely nothing about what the photo contains or how it might be used.
Pop that photo on your site without amending the file name, and you’ll bump up against Google’s image publishing guidelines. Here, the developers specifically ask posters to amend their image file names before they publish a photo online.
Google’s computer program is robust, but at the moment, it’s not quite able to read an image and determine what it contains (although that might be changing soon). That means the program uses surrounding text to determine what an image really shows and why it might be valuable. That file name is part of the data Google examines and, in the absence of other valuable data, that file name might be used as the image’s snippet in search results.
Sure, it’s a pain to rename a photo. But clearly, that work comes with some significant benefits.
2. Fill Out the Alt Text Box
When you’re set to post your photo on your blog, you’ll get a dialogue box with a bunch of fields you can fill out. If you’ve been skipping over this box, slow down and take a peek at the benefits you could be missing. Let’s start with the all-important “alt text” box.
As Google has made clear, the algorithm looks closely at the data contained in this alt box, and it uses that data to determine what content is and is not relevant to someone performing a search. That means you need to put something in this box for Google’s spiders to find you.
But, this alt box also has a deeper (and as some suggest, a more meaningful) purpose. This text is displayed as a replacement for images when users can’t access those snaps. People with vision impairment might specify alt text replacements, and those with very slow connection speeds might also get alts instead of images.
That means your alt text shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords that really don’t mean anything. They should be filled with natural words that accurately describe what the image is about.
And you have a lot of words to work with, too, as some research suggests that alt text can be up to 16 words long. Verbosity might be your friend here, if it helps your readers to understand what the image is about.
3. Write a Photo Description
Up next, the title tag. This is the little bit of data that people will see when they hover over an image. And, it’s also the text that Pinners will see if they attempt to pop your photos on their Pinterest boards.
Your title tags can play host to your keywords, say most experts. If you have a specific search term you’re targeting with your blog post, make sure that term appears in at least one image title tag, too. But don’t go overboard with it, of course. This is far from hidden text, so you won’t want to fill the space with garbage. Be respectful and keep the jargon to a minimum. But do use this space to advance your keyword cause.
4. Slap a Caption Under Your Photo
Captions can be a little controversial. To some, they’re just clutter text that demonstrates how poorly the image integrates with the text around it. After all, if the photo fit in so seamlessly, you wouldn’t need a caption to explain the shot, right?
Well, not exactly.
A caption is a great way to stop the eye of a scanner breezing through your web page. That matters, as a high bounce rate could impact your SEO scores. By keeping those readers engaged with your content for just a little bit longer, you could do better on search.
A Quick Example
Ready to see this in action? Of course you are.
Here’s my photo.
And here is my posting information.
- File name: Crocodile-closeup.jpg
- Alt text: Closeup of crocodile eye and sharp teeth.
- Title text: Crocodile eyes and SEO go together perfectly.
- Caption: Crocodile photos could put the teeth in your SEO.
That’s not so hard, right? I didn’t think so.
But if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Just drop me a line in the comments!