An often overlooked part of on-page SEO is image optimization. I’m not talking about optimizing the images themselves so that the images will load faster—this post is about how to create SEO friendly images in WordPress using the alt tag.
Alternative (alt) text are the words used in the alt tag field to describe the image. Alternative text helps Google and other Search Engines understand what the image is about and why you chose to include it in your post.
Keywords in Image Optimization
If you want a post to rank well in Google search for a specific search phrase, you’ll use that phrase in the titles and paragraph text of your post. But your post may rank higher if you also include that targeted keyword phrase in:
- image file names (i.e. “my-keyword.jpg”)
- captions that display with the image on the post
- and in alt (alternative) Text
3 Ways the alt tag is used
1. Search Engines
Search Engines don’t see images they read text. This is where alt text comes in. When indexing images search engines rely on the alt attribute to understand and interpret the image.
2. Screen Readers
Alt text isn’t just for search engines. The alt attribute provides text that will be used by screen readers to make your website accessible. People with visual impairments rely on screen reader technology to convert the text of your blog post into synthesized speech that they listen to.
3. As a placeholder
Alt text will display on the page if the image fails to load. This may happen if your web host server is slow or if the user has a poor Internet connection.
Adding Alt text to images in WordPress
Alt text needs to describe the image. Don’t use the alt text field as a place to stuff keywords or to write a pin description for Pinterest.
When writing alt text — write for screen readers. Describe an image so that someone who can’t see the image will understand what you are wanting to convey. If the image has a text overlay, alt text should say the same thing as the image. Include keywords naturally in the description for the benefit of search engines.
When not to use Alt Text
Sometimes your website design will include images that are simply decorative. The WP-Accessibility plugin provides a convenient tick box to mark an image as decorative (see the Decorative tick box in the screenshot). The WP-Accessibility plugin will also prompt you if you neglect to customize the alt text for your image.
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