These days, people depend on visuals more than ever. We’re used to being bombarded with images to the point that when we encounter strictly textual content, we feel like something is wrong and we’re less likely to engage with it. Websites do their best to provide the perfect images to complement their message, whether it’s their own material or images obtained from stock photography websites. But they often forget one thing, that’s ensure images are equipped with the correct metadata, More precisely – image title and alt text.
If you think this might be the case for you and your blog, read on and find out why image metadata is important and how to add it to your images.
What is image metadata
Broadly speaking, metadata is “data about data”. This is the kind of information that provides additional insight into information. He explains it and elaborates it. Metadata serves many purposes, but in websites it is mostly used for search engine optimization.
When we talk about image metadata, we are mainly talking about two things: alt text and image title. Like we said, image metadata is something that many admins forget to do, or just don’t realize how important it is. Unfortunately, this often costs them the ranking. Setting up image metadata is very simple and can take you a long way, as search engines actually look at this data and add it to the mix of information about your website that they use to decide its ranking.
Alternate text or alt text is a HTML attribute that we add to an image tag. It is displayed in the image container in situations when the image itself cannot be displayed or cannot be found. It provides information about what the image represents.
The image title is basically the name of your image. Like alt text, it lets users and search engines know what’s in the image. Unlike alt text, the image title is not displayed when the image is missing or not loaded correctly. Instead of, it is displayed when the user hovers his mouse over the image.
In addition to alt text and image title, you can also provide more information about your images using captions and descriptions.
A legend represents an explanation or description of an image. It is usually displayed just below the image. Captions are always a welcome addition to a post because of their descriptive and explanatory nature.
A description is useful if you configure your images to have their own attachment pages that users can access. The description you enter for an image will be displayed there, along with other data, providing additional insight into the content.
Why metadata is important
As we have already mentioned, image metadata, especially alt text and image title, is very important for SEO and for better visibility of your website. Here’s why: This data literally tells search engines what your images represent and what they’re about. Search engines cannot “see” images in their visual form, so we need to help them understand what users see. And that is precisely what alt text does. In addition, metadata is important for better accessibility of your website for users with special needs or those with poor network connections, devices that don’t display images, etc.
As for how to write your metadata, the general recommendation is to make sure the text is useful, relevant and informative. It should contain keywords but they should be used in context with the rest of the content, and sparingly. Keyword stuffing is something users hate and Google penalizes, and that goes for metadata stuffing too.
For example, if you have an image of a rose, the appropriate alt text might be “Dark red English rose with dew drops” or “Yellow rose bud on the lawn”, depending on the specific image. Of course, you can always write “pink” or “red rose”, but always try to be as descriptive as possible.
How to add image titles and alt text
If you already have a lot of images on your WordPress site that don’t have the proper attributes, you should definitely go back now and fix that. You can watch this step-by-step video that walks you through the process or follow our step-by-step instructions below.
Head to Media > Library. Here you will find all the images that you have already added to your website.
Click on the image to which you want to add metadata. The appropriate metadata fields will be displayed to the right of the image field. Along with alt text and title, you can also add caption and description here.
You can go back and do this for all images in your media library.
You can also do this when you add an image to a post, by selecting it from the media library.
Metadata input fields are located in the Attachment Details panel that opens when you upload and choose an image from the library.
If you are using the classic editor and you want to add metadata to an image, you can also do that directly from the publisher.
Simply click on the image in the editor to open the options. The little pencil represents the Edit option, so click on it.
Here you can add or edit alt text:
And the title of your image too:
If you use Gutenberg and want to add metadata to your old images, you can do so using the media library or in the block itself. Note, however, that the block only has the alt text option, not the image title.
To change the image title directly from the page, click Image Block, then find Replace and navigate to the media library where you can add the title as described above.
Add metadata using a plugin
Sometimes adding alt text and a title to previously uploaded images is just too much work. If this is the case with your blog, you can try a handy plugin called Image attributes.
The plugin works by use your image file name to generate metadata (everything from alt text and title to caption and description), fully automatically. It can be used to update image attributes for both new and previously uploaded images.
Until version 4.7, WordPress generated alt text from the image file name by default. This functionality is now gone, but this plugin restores it, along with several other useful actions, including bulk image updates. It also removes dashes, underscores and other symbols from the image file name and inserts the data directly into the HTML of your articles.
After installing the plugin, go to Settings > Image Attributes to check the plugin options.
Here you have a global switch to enable or disable the plugin and its effects. You also have general settings for new uploads, as well as some filtering settings, where you can choose to remove certain characters from image filenames.
Be sure to check the box indicating Insert image title in HTML post.
Note that these settings only apply to new downloads, no existing images. The Mass update segment of the plugin allows you to update all the images in your media library, adding their respective metadata to them.
When you set everything like in the example above, adding a new image will come with these settings:
Of course, here you can modify or delete everything directly, if the proposed metadata does not work for you.
The alt text and image title is the most important part of image optimization for search engines. Not only do they improve the user experience, but they also contribute greatly to the overall SEO efforts you invest in your website. Now that you understand the importance of image metadata and know exactly how to add it to your images, old and new, you need to make sure it’s part of your routine.
Speaking of images, now would be a good time to remind yourself that all images you intend to use on your website or blog should be high-quality, high-resolution images. Also, it’s important that your images match the style of your pages, which includes appropriate image sizes and not too large files, because the last thing you want is a slow-loading website.