To the upper right is what Search Engines "see" in an image . . . . . . Exactly! It's blank. Nothing there.
Search engines understand only words, text, and phrases.
This is why it is so important to add words and text such as image file names, titles, tags, and descriptions to all your images on your website, blog, or social networking sites. Without this text information, search engines simply skip over your images. For all practical purposes, search engines interpret images as blank spaces. They are completely blind to images.
Artists and makers are strong visual thinkers and may not believe that an image has zero value to a search engine. To grasp the impact of this issue, try describing an image to a blind person. Treat search engines in the same way. How else can blind search engines "see" images?
Clickable images (as links to other pages) and the ALT text for them is a great way to build visibility for your images and link to other pages on your website. (Test the Extra Virgin Flower to the left to see how this works.)
In the next post, we will look at titles, tags, and descriptions for 2.0 social networking sites like Crafthaus, Flickr, or Facebook.
This post will use one of my favorite Flower pins as an example. The file name on my computer for this image is Kisses72. That is my personal code for the image file, but it really doesn't say much to search engines.
The filename "Kisses72.jpg" doesn't say what it is or who made it. If someone were looking for a pin by Harriete Estel Berman they would never find the image because the Search Engines just skip over the image. They have no vision. Learn more about image file names in the post 4 TIPS to Improve Search for Your Images.
Note: the default on a blog usually uses the file name as the ALT image information.
However, search engines can use ALT image information, but only if it is provided by the author.
Consequently, the ALT image information is the only way for images to be found by a search engine.
Originally, the purpose of the ALT image TAG was indeed to help people with poor vision. It was mandated by ADA (American with Disabilities Act) so that automated or volunteer screen readers could read the text and the ALT image information out loud.
On my website and blog, I have to add the ALT image information manually, as you see to the left. "ALT=Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman in purple and black" provides searchable text that is associated directly with the image.
On my blog, I need to double-click on the image and change the ALT image description for the image. (See the image below.) I didn't realize this feature existed for a really long time.
My blog actually calls this box "Description", not ALT image information, but in the HTML code (behind the scenes), that is exactly what it is. IF you use a blog or website template, there may be a similar option for you. Look for it.
In contrast, my website prompts me to add the ALT image information to the HTML code. You may need to experiment with your blog and website until you figure out how to add an ALT image description for your images.
It isn't clear how long an images description should be. Google only publicly encourages original content and clear, accurate information. My plan is to be sure that the most important words (e.g. Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman) are there first. Then I might add more information (such as "black and purple").
Decide what your most important words are so that search engines will find your images. The ALT image information will be different for each artist, maker, and image. I used "Flower Brooch" and "Harriete Estel Berman." For your work, it might be the materials, type of work, utilitarian purpose, or other keywords or niche market attributes.
Anticipate how people will search for your work and help search engines "see" your images with ALT image information.
For an update on image file names for search engine optimization, check out this new post "Image File Names Improve SEO"
The next post on Tuesday will explain the importance of titles, tags, and descriptions for 2.0 social networking like Crafthaus, Flickr, Facebook, or any online marketplace.
Stay tuned for a new series of posts about CraftFORWARD a symposium hosted by California College for the Arts. We will start out with background information about this important conference, the Manufractured exhibition, and its relevance to the dissolving boundaries between art and craft.
"The Craft Forward Symposium examines the multifaceted practices that both distinguish and blur the historically charged boundaries between craft, art, design, architecture, and writing. The symposium brings together a diverse group of makers and thinkers to explore the ethos of craft and its resurgence in the 21st century."
This post was updated on January 27, 2022, to provide current links.