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Optimising Images for Google

Little things can make a difference to your site’s SEO and those of you with content managed websites are in the perfect position to make tweeks here and there that will help with your PageRank. Images are an often overlooked when it comes to SEO but Google does notice when you optimise them correctly.

File Names and Alt Attributes

Every image has a unique file name and an attribute called alt. Alt lets you specify alternative text for the image in case it can’t be displayed for some reason. It’s also what screen readers will dictate to users with impaired vision.

Remember the alt attribute isn’t supposed to literally describe the contents of the image. It is supposed to be an alternative for the image usually stating its purpose. For example the image below should not be an orange circle with beige arrow wrapping around it should be Media on Mars Planet Logo. So your going for descriptive rather than literal.

Media on Mars Logo

If you use an image as a link, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link, hence its importance.

Modifying Your Image Info

Within the admin area of your WordPress site you can update and modify the alt attribute of your image files. When you upload a new image file you’ll be presented with the following dialogue box:

Optimising Alt

You can see about half-way down that I’ve added in an alt description for my image that correctly describes it in the Alternative Text field.

You can see that I’ve also added some additional info in the Title field. Some versions of Internet Explorer (7 and below) rendered text in alt attributes as tooltips. This led to the misuse of the alt attribute and people began to use it as a means to display additonal information when title should be used. You can see that I’ve correctly put my additional information in the Title area.

FYI as of Internet Explorer 8 alt attributes no longer render as tooltips, Internet Explorer 9 is the latest release.

Best Practices for Optimising Your Images ( As Recommended by Google)

  • Keep the alt attribute and file names brief and descriptive
  • Avoid using generic filenames like image01.jpg, “pic.gif”, “1.jpg” when possible
  • Avoid massively lengthy filenames
  • Avoid stuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentences, Google will view this as spammy.

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