Metadata Reloaded - The Best SEO Practices
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?