Metadata Reloaded - The Best SEO Practices

Last Update: May 28, 2020

As my journey through Wealthy Affiliate continues, learning about website creation, affiliate marketing, links and SEO, I've come across a topic that's causing me great confusion and is haunting me daily. Despite my thorough research reading various conflicting views and opinions across the web, putting suggestions into practice and editing images over and over (a task getting larger, the more content I add) I cannot make up my mind on the accurate metadata that accompanies an uploaded image.


I'm a thorough guy and have a meticulous character and so want to get this right. Part of me thinks I'm over-thinking the issue, worrying about it and not keeping things simple and straightforward. I thought I'd blog about this as I'm sure it's a common issue in all the community and it would be great to know the collective answer.


In case, you are wondering and are still puzzled, I'm talking SEO practices for images and uploading, I'm talking "file names," "titles," "descriptions," "captions" and "alt text." All these glorious empty blank spaces you can edit and improve on in the Wordpress admin area, as well as the media library. I'll explain how I'm currently doing it and will include examples along the way, I'll add my main source of information and explain my research results and findings.


File Names

I do like to keep a clean library of files while I'm working and folders and filenames are just as important too. I'm not too worried about this one as the filenames for my images are for my benefit only and how they are saved and stored on the hard drive. Normally, I format the filenames with pixel dimensions "250x250" for example, and a filename before it that ties into what the image is. If I have a group of images for a product, for example, I'll use "#1, 2, 3 etc" after the dimensions.


Titles

So, far as I'm aware of the title for an image within Wordpress is not generally seen by visitors and just a way of finding your images quickly in the media library. What's got me confused here is do I give a title that ties in with my post for easy lookups and organization or a title that just describes the image as an individual element? Here is an example, taken from one of my posts:

I've been toying around with the title being either grouped and connected to the article/post it's from, "eBay Activity - Gaming Gear" and have also tried seeing the image for what it is and changed it to, "eBay Banner #1." Which is more appropriate? Importantly which is better for SEO if SEO is used with the title?


Captions

Here is another area that I've never bothered with or used. I'm aware that captions sit underneath an image and can be anything from credits or information that ties into the image. Never really had a use for them, should I be using them? I don't like the idea of using them as it'll put all my image formatting out of place and look ugly. I don't think I need them but would still appreciate some information and examples of how to use them.


Descriptions

This is one of the tricky ones I've encountered and it doesn't help to be a creative, descriptive and detailed writer. I've read about some general rules that you must add and not add and advice on keeping descriptions not too long, read the source material here. I struggle because I want to be descriptive and describe the image in full which is obviously what is needed, but when articles and source material is advising you on "focussing only on the item" it's then left to interpretations and the author's judgement, I guess. Here is an example, taken from one of my posts:

My current description for this image is, "This image shows the box cover artwork and design for the Pandemic: The Cure game from Z-Man games. It's mainly a blue and white design and includes a female scientist wearing a white lab coat and eye goggles on the left working with samples and vials, a male character in a shirt and tie is in the top-right next to an ambulance and below him a female in a dark blue suit jacket. "Pandemic" title in red and yellow is bottom-middle, "The Cure" in blue with green outline underneath. Another white text featured on the cover is "A Game By Matt Leacock," "Z-Man Games," "Extra Strength Dice Game" and "Can You Save Humanity?"

After looking into it I think my description qualifies for being an "overly poetic or detailed description" and maybe could be simplified as just describing that it's the "front cover artwork and design to the Pandemic: The Cure board game from Z-Man Games," leaving out all the non-essential box design details - or is this needed, have I been doing it very correct?


Alt Text

This is another area where I'm seeing and reading conflicting views. My main source of help is from the official W3C and an actual "alt decision tree," see it here. At the moment I'm only adding text to this area if I'm using an image that is a link to somewhere and I'll add something along the lines of, "Click here to browse Ghostbusters products and merchandise at Zavvi." If it's an image used to break up the text and be just "eye-candy" then so far as I'm aware the alt text area is "null" and left blank.



In this above image example of a live eBay item's postage costs, I was aware that this image was an "informative image" with no surrounding repeated text that's included within the image and yet the text within the image needs to be described. So, based on what I've read and used, alt text is used here, as well as a description. My current alt text is, "An eBay seller's inaccurate, high postage costs" and my current description is, "This image shows a screenshot from the eBay website and platform. The image focuses on the postage and pricing section of a live listing to show the high postage costs added by the seller for such a small item. The text reads, "Postage: £2.48 Economy Delivery, item location: London, UK, Posts to UK, Delivery: Estimated between Tue. 19 May and Fri 22 May." The image features black text over a white background and payment card imagery."


Though I'm quite confused as websites are saying that you must add alt text to ALL images in case they don't load up and it's what a visitor will see, I've read about putting your designated keyword for the post into the description and alt text areas too, which I've not been doing and only adding keywords to the post/article title, within the first few paragraphs as Kyle's training states and also at the bottom of the Wordpress posts editor, within the "all in one SEO" areas.


Confusion & Conclusion

I've summed up a simple fact and solution even if I'm wrong or right and that is that as founder and author of the posts, I should organise images and their SEO how I see fit, as long as I keep the continuity. Decide on where and when alt text, descriptions and captions are used, write down and make note of my ruling and keep to it. This is what I've tried doing but because I'm unbalanced deciding the best way and method, I keep changing the goalposts and have had a few sessions, wasting time re-editing image SEO and metadata to suit.


I've now probably got half my image media library titled and done one way and recent images a different way, things have become fragmented and I need the ruling, the best way and methods, make a decision, re-edit all my images before moving forwards clean. What are your views, suggestions and experiences in this confusing, contradicting yet important area of image SEO and organization?


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Jacquie8 Premium Plus
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Amazing detail! I'm curious to know how you've progressed with this since, Stephen!

I understood that it's good practice to put Alt Text for all images to help the search engines to recognise what they are... and useful for accessibility ... but that's all I had come across!

I'm going to look into this further.

A good way to procrastinate! Or extend my analysis paralysis.

Best wishes,

Jacquie
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Treadstone02 Premium
Even within the content of your reply is that aged argument about the use of the ALT description. Everyone is different creating content and what you say about using it as a descriptive measure for accessibilty needs, I've read others do that too. This is one of the fights I was having as information was conflicting.

Going off the official link to the W3C as previously mentioned, they state it's not needed for decorative images. I'm detailed on my descriptions due to my meticulous, detailed, perfectionist nature so any screen-readers could make use of that I guess.

The way I've been doing it and the only time I add ALT text to an image is if the image is clickable and links you to somewhere, I use ALT text here to state the destination, for example:

An image of eBay - ALT text = Click here to visit ebay.

An image of a "Buy Now" button - ALT text = Click here to buy it now.

An image of a board game box cover - NO ALT text as the image is decorative and has no action related.
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Jacquie8 Premium Plus
So interesting.

The first time I came across Alt text I believed it was to do with helping someone who couldn't see the image, for whatever reason, "see it". Even if the image doesn't add a lot, a basic description can at least help some people know what they're not missing out on.

I think accessibility is a big thing that is going to get bigger, but at the same time, the ability to make websites more accessible is probably going to upgrade and be made easier for all. Right now I'm finding it a bit challenging.
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feigner Premium
interesting thoughts .
on images i tend to add alt text as a descrption for visually impaired - keyword for google ( this is the main one google uses as it doesn't have eyes!)
the description is used when you can search for the image alone in search engines to add information - it can be another part of a blog or can have a link to the blog the image is used on... - if you use the link to attachment page then if your theme allows it you see the description
caption can help if you set the image as a link to tell people what to do....
filenames and titles should be relevant to the post keyword if possible to add influence for google.
and yes i think you are overthinking it...but thorough
have fun
phil
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Treadstone02 Premium
HI 2 you Phil,

Thank you for your contribution but I'm still on the backfoot and still am wondering about the right and correct way around this. Please supply more visual examples what and when you use alt text and descriptions for images.

Based on what I've sourced and followed not every image needs an alt text, but yes to a description. It's all in the guidelines set out by W3C themselves, see below.

https://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/images/decision-tree/

Even when accessing images and information through Wordpress>media library, in the top right even Wordpress guides you to leave alt text nulled if the image is a decorative image. It's all down to what the image is and how the author wishes to focus on it. My confusion as mentioned in my blog with examples is how detailed do you need to go with alt texts and image descriptions.

The area is still hazy to me and the question unanswered.
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feigner Premium
not all images need either alt test or descriptions - perkins is recommending addind null if alt text not used- whereas others recommend leaving it blank so screen readers know to skip over it.
you are looking at images from the accesibility point of view - i tend ot look at it form an seo point of view .
i will use the alt text to my advantage for seo - so add keywords where applicable describing the image ( so the image is relevant to the topic).
i tend not to use descriptions - but know that tey can be used when allowing google to index images - so if someone clicks on a link to an image the description is also show if you use the link to attachment page on the image...( useful for photographers who want the images seen).
never used the description in the cntext of a screen reader.
is it the law - no it is just recommended.
are you going to be penalised if you don't use a description on every image - no
are you going to be penalised not using an alt text on every image - more likely
what am i more intersted in - seo or accessibiity - more seo but know of accessibiity and respect it.
am i going to lose sleep over it- no...
so i wuold recommend adding an alt text to every image - does not need a description unless it is esential.
but you will go your own way...
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Treadstone02 Premium
HI 2 you Phill,

Interesting angle and reply. Many thanks.
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RichBrennan Premium Plus
This is a great post, Stephen.
The issue as as clear as mud to me as well!
I spent almost the entire day yesterday adding Alt Text to the images on my site and as a lot of them have text in them, I ended up writing 'essays' in the description box like you describe, and wondering if I wasn't over doing / over thinking things.
Everything you've put in this post was exactly what was going through my totally fried brain yesterday evening after about 14 hours of sitting in front of my laptop screen wondering what to write in which box.
I actually found that the Decision Tree only confused the issue further!
I seem to remember it saying somewhere that Google doesn't actually like alt text in text based images and that you should put alt="-" in the description but when I posted a question up to the Community, the general consensus was that all images should have alt text, regardless.
Maybe it will all become clearer in the long term as we progress through the training, but at least you now know you're not alone!
And that's very reassuring for me too!
I shall follow this post to see if there is an Alt Text Guru in the Community who can enlighten us!
Cheers
Rich :-)
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Linda103 Premium
Food for thought Stephen.
I usually just add alt text, its a description for those that have limited vision, or so I thought.
I also add a link if needed.
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