Images and videos work really well for blog posts. To recount an old cliche – they can indeed save a lot of words by conveying the same information, but more effectively.
Problems start small
I was quite lazy with images when I started off.
On some of my older blogs still have images that I am not quite proud of. These were made to purpose by me, using whatever the tool that I found at the time.
Problem over time became inconsistent images, with varying sizes and look & feel.
My writing skills have improved over time. Yes, that is a fact, even if you find my current work horrible. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for my image selection skills.
I followed a simple process – search for “some image” (from Google images most of the time), get an image, and throw that in. I spent some generous effort ( and $7 I might add) to buy your plug-in that could automatically generate featured image for the post. The post look all bland without it – or at least that’s what I thought.
This process has now metamorphosed into –
- Find a relevant image for the blog post that is also relevant at the same time
- Use image capture tools for better screenshots
- Optimise images or excellent website performance
Debugging image problems
The above process works, and I have even seen the image alt keywords contribute towards the posts’ position in SERPs.
I thought “I got the concepts” of manipulation and use of images on websites. I could not have been more wrong.
When I looked back at how I use images versus a few best practices recommended by experts, there were a few glaring gaps.
I had made it a habit to search in Google images using the relevant copyright filters. But, there have been mistakes.
Either due to carelessness are due to the unavailability of relevant images elsewhere, there have been a few places where images have been used wrongly but attributed to the right source.
As you can imagine changing images in all those posts is a laborious exercise. Finding the right image, and plugging in relevant details the first time saves a *lot* of work later.
The fix to this problem is and will be a constant work in progress.
Relevant image file names
The biggest of the problems was that the file names were unrelated to the post.
I gave more weightage to alt text than it deserved. Title and alt text are important, but filenames play a part too. Looking at the search results now it is quite evident that Google finds it easy to understand an image by the filename, though it also seems to look at alt text as well. Experts recommend providing relevant filenames.
Google also recommends using descriptive filenames for images in their guidelines. The following example from Google provides really clear information –
Not so good: <img src="puppy.jpg" alt=""/> Better: <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy"/> Best: <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"> To be avoided <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy dog baby dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"/>
While the filenames describe the image, alt text will provide the context for the image within the framework of the post.
The reason easy way and then there is the hard way to fix this problem.
The easy way out is to install a plug-in called SEO Image. This plug-in will automatically populate the title and alt text from the filename. You can also include additional phrases/words while populating the additional attributes.
The hard way is to do it by hand. This is the best option since you provide more context and better image description in the title and in the alt text. The objective is to provide as much information as possible to Google, in order to rank better – it certainly helps to have cemented keywords, alternate descriptions tagged against the images.
Filename: What is the image? (e.g. “playful cat.png”)
Alt text: Contextual description of image (“Black cat trying to play with its reflection in the mirror”)
Title: Contextual, but non-essential information for the image. (e.g. “Cat playact”)
Caption: May not be relevant in this situation, but something that provides even more context to the image. (e.g., “Bettie takes on her mirror-image”)
Find one more example Of providing relevant filename/title/alt text here.
After evaluating the work involved, I may never go back and change the title and caption for all images. I will continue to use alt text, but also have relevant filenames going forward.
If you have titles for your images but do not have relevant filenames, use Media File Renamer WordPress plug-in to rename the files as per the title.
If you take a lot of screenshots, you can introduce minus changes to the way you take screenshots so that the program asks you to input filename rather than provide a default name. This can be done easily in ShareX.
Not using captions
If multiple posts use the same image, the common tendency is to use the same file in all those posts. The reasoning was to reuse existing assets and to save some space for the hosting provider.
This is okay as long as information surrounding the text provides better context to the image. As per Google, titles and caption of the image play a significant role here. Although not all images may not have captions, it is certainly a good idea to use captions were possible.
Not using proper images for social media
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have their own way of determining the relevant image that they have to use while sharing the post link. You can help them by providing feeds on the description and image that the platform has to use when your posted a shared.
This is not the problem as others mentioned here, but a social media post that does not have an attractive image does not get shared often.
WordPress SEO by Yoast solves this problem effectively by allowing you to specify images for Facebook and Twitter.
To summarise: use as many tags to the images as possible to provide relevant information to search engines. Use proper filename and alt tags at a minimum.