Do you have a blog? If so, I’m going to share some info with you that will hopefully increase your traffic. I know, this is a little out of the ordinary for me (and completely off topic, so I apologize to those of you hoping for more decorating projects this afternoon!) This is only the second “blogging help” post I’ve ever written (remember this one where I spilled my secrets on the mouse over “quick view” before and after pictures?), but when I feel that I have info that could really help my fellow bloggers, I want to pass it on. And this one’s important!!
Last night when I was searching for “DIY Sunburst Mirrors” using Google’s image search feature, it dawned on me that probably relatively few bloggers actually use “alt” tags on their photos. What made it obvious? Well, the fact that I’ve seen about a thousand DIY sunburst mirrors around the blogosphere, and yet when I used Google’s image search, I only came up with a relatively small number.
The bottom line is that if you’re not using “alt” tags on your photos, you’re more than likely missing out on potential Google traffic! And don’t we all want more visitors?!
So what is an “alt” tag?
An alt tag is simply a line of code that goes into the HTML (that’s all of that code that looks like Greek to most of us) where you can type a description of the photo.
Why is this important? Well, let me give you an example.
Let’s say that I want to insert a photo into my blog post. Maybe the photo is something like this…
The photo is a bright and colorful dining room with Kelly Wearstler Imperial Trellis draperies, a dining table made of reclaimed wood, colorful floral upholstered chairs, and a turquoise painted piano. It’s possible that many people might want to see such a dining room, right? But more than likely, I’ve named the photo something like “dining room 1.jpg”. Or perhaps I don’t even bother to change the name of the picture that my camera automatically assigns to it, so it might be named something like “101-5579.jpg”.
Now what happens when the Google bots crawl my blog? Well, these are computers that we’re talking about, so they don’t “see” the colorful dining room with the beautiful draperies and the turquoise piano. They only “see” the words associated with the photo, like “dining room 1.jpg” or “101-5579.jpg”.
So now when someone comes along and does a Google image search looking for “turquoise piano” or “painted piano”, I’ve lost potential visitors, because the Google bots had no idea that my photo contained a turquoise piano.
So in order to help the Google bots “see” your photo, you need to add an “alt” tag to each photo. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy.
If you use Windows Live Writer to write your blog posts, adding “alt” tags to your photos can’t get any easier. Simply click on the photo, and then click on the menu option that says “Alt text”, and write a description of your photo in the space provided. Live Writer will add your text to the HTML code behind the scenes, without you having to deal with it.
If you’re not using a program that makes it simple like that, then you’ll need to manually add the “alt” tag to your HTML code.
DON’T PANIC!! It’s really not that difficult. I’ll demonstrate using Blogger (since that’s the blogging platform I use), but the HTML code will look similar no matter what blogging platform you use.
First, upload your photo using the little photo icon, just like you always do.
Next, you’ll need to click on the “Edit HTML” tab at the top.
You’ll see all of the code associated with your photo. Now find the part that starts with <img
This is where you’ll add your alt tag. It will look like this: <img alt=”dining room with Imperial Trellis draperies, reclaimed wood dining table, painted turquoise piano” border=”0”….
Take a look at the actual code…
That’s simple enough, right? You just need to be sure that you have the equal sign and then quotation marks at the beginning and end of your description:
alt=”type your photo description here”
Now when the Google bots crawl my blog, instead of “seeing” 101-5579.jpg (which would NEVER show up in any relevant Google image search), they will actually “see” a dining room, Imperial Trellis draperies, a turquoise painted piano, and a reclaimed wood dining table, which are things that someone might very likely search for using Google image search.
Wow…that was wordy, huh? I just know myself, and I’m the type of person who generally won’t do something if I don’t understand why it’s important, so I know some of you are probably the same way.
So now, go tag those photos, and watch your traffic increase!
Hope that helps!