This beginners guide covers how to implement SEO tactics within media files on Wordpress. The latest media manager in Wordpress has become quite powerful, in which it allows you to manage your image, edit your image, set “alt” tags for SEO, add captions, add alignment and more. It is always a good practice to implement basic SEO tactics for your images as much as your posts in Wordpress as it can be a difference between search engines like Google finding your images and then your articles, to Google not finding it at all. For a little second of your time, you can make a difference easily.
This article is written for WordPress version 3.8.1 or later. Although WordPress versions before 3.8 may have the functions I mention built in, please note that the article may not be accurate for previous versions of WordPress.
New to WordPress? Read my beginners article for WordPress.
WordPress has basic functions built in within your image manager to input what we call “alt tags” within your images. Although I cannot promise (nor can search engines like Google can’t make such promises) that it will make significant changes in regards to your website exposure, it is a good practice to implement because it may make a difference. The WordPress media manager has not always been great. It was confusing at times, mediocre at times, and sometimes it did not work well. But over the years and over many builds later, the WordPress media manager has gotten nothing but awesome in ways many web designers have dreamed.
The media section of WordPress admin lists all the images you have stored in your WordPress database for you to use and re-use in your posts. Within this section, there is also an option for you to add “alt tags” to your images for search engines to find your image which can lead to users finding your relevant article. In the WordPress media library, click an image that you want to apply your tags to.
When you enter the section of your individual media file, on the bottom of the image, you have a text box that allows you to fill out certain information about your image. The “caption” section is where you fill out your caption that will be displayed on your post. Your theme will have to have the captions settings programmed in order for captions to look good in your post. To get back to the subject, the alternative text box is where you want to really pay attention to. This is where you fill out the alt tags for your images. The alt tag should not be too long and should be keyword oriented. For example, if you have an artwork of a butter fly, your alt tag could be something like “butterflies by your name”. It is not necessary to include periods or type in caps, but it is important to use space between the words. Your alt tags should not be sentences such as “butterflies artwork done by myself in the spring of 2013. I am proud of this artwork”. My usual goal is to keep it short and simple but effective and descriptive.
There is another text box that allows you to put a description of your image. This is strictly for organization within WordPress or for other authors to understand what, when and why the image was used. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with SEO tactics.
When you “add media” within your post, you will get a dialog box that also allows you to input the same settings you do through the media library. It is not necessary to access the media library to input the alt tags as you have the option to do this right when you upload an image.
The media dialog box has 4 sections to fill out unlike the media library. The title section is where you fill out the title of the image. This is strictly within WordPress and has nothing to do with SEO just like the descriptions text box. The captions text box is the same as the settings in the media library. Again, the most important section within SEO is the alt text box. This is where you want to fill out your alt tags within this image you have uploaded. It is a good practice to always fill out these text boxes when you input your image every single time. If you do not have much time, just fill out the title of the image and the alt text box.
I hope I have covered some basic functions and procedures in managing images and media within WordPress. Although it might be tedious, in the long run, all the time you spent filling out the alt text area of your image may make the difference in search engine rankings.
My name is Chris Takakura, I am an art director and visual designer servicing businesses and studios around the world. I specialize in print design, brand/identity, with a strong concentration in web design & front-end development. I am always looking to connect and be involved in creative projects, so if you are interested in my creative services, please contact me here.