Search Engine Optimization for artists and crafts people. Feed

Search Engines Have No Vision! So Help SEO "SEE" Your Images

Blind-man-walking Search Engines can not see your images. SEOnovisionimage
They can not see color, black and white, in focus, out of focus, or pixelated. They are completely blind to images.  They have no vision. 

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.

Google Image Search is 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? 

Extra Virgin Flower Pin by Harriete Estel Berman  Today's post will show a couple of super-simple examples for ALT image information for images on websites and blogs. Search engines use ALT image information for search on 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.

Kisses72This 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.


SEOaltkisses72To turn geeky for a moment, this is what my Flower Brooch (left above)  looks like to Search Engines. This is the HTML code.  That really isn't informative, is it?

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.

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel BermanSearch engines read the HTML or XHTML code for the image -- and nothing more.

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.

Americans with Disabilities Act Logo 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. 

SEO examples for images Flower Pin by Harriete Estel BermanB 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.

SE0 IMAGE description shown in text editing toolsbehind
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"

Kisses Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman is Kosher for Passover on the back.
Kosher for Passover back view to my Kisses Flower Brooch
© 2011 Harriete Estel Berman

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."

Related articles:

Become a Webmaster of Your Own Domain

Your Site Performance Improves SEO

This post was updated on January 27, 2022, to provide current links.

What's in a Name? Is Your Artist Identity LOST or FOUND in a sea of names?


Should I have a business name?  I’m stumbling and struggling with how to come up with a name.

A reader in search of a name!

PDSCraftReportcolor72 While this question is a condensed version of questions from readers, it represents a fairly frequent issue. It also highlights concerns that are relevant to the Niche Marketing theme for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar at the Seattle SNAG Conference.

PDS speakers include:

Hilary Pfeifer uses her own name for her serious work, but calls her wedding toppers business "Bunny with a Tool Belt".

emiko oye refers to her jewelry line as Reware (though I noticed that the website name is actually "reware style.")

Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.

ChocolateQuestion200 What I want to ask all our speakers and readers of ASK Harriete:

"Why did you choose to operate under a fictitious business name rather than your own name as an artist or maker?"

"How did you pick this particular business name?"

My primary concern with a business name is the difficulty that most people have developing even one artistic identity, let alone two. In most cases, I believe it splits awareness you have built and confuses potential customers or your online network.

Focus-on-goals-1 It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your website, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking, and online marketing. One name, or a variant of your name, constantly reinforces one singular identity. Repeated consistently at every site helps the one identity to gain recognition.

Vera-wang There are many examples of companies in all industries who are well known under an individual name such as Jack Lenor Larsen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang (right), and Thomas Kinkade.

Mrclean_logo To add further emphasis to the idea of one name, it is considered a strong marketing advantage to have a singular identity to represent a brand. Examples include Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, Dear Abby to Papa John's, or personal testimonials that create intimacy with a brand such as Keira Knightley in advertising for Channel.

Keira-Knightley-for-Chanel-Coco-Mademoiselle-Perfume Artists already have a name to associate with a product. Why would we dilute this asset by creating a company name?

Here are some practical suggestions about names that may enhance the effectiveness of an identity.

  • Is the spelling of the name unique in some way?
  • Would your middle name or maiden name create a more unique name?

HEB2.72gr For example, my mother made up her own spelling for Harriete when I was born. At this point, it works really well to differentiate my Harriete from all more common spellings of Harriet, or Harriette. Look up Harriete on a Google search with an "e" at the end. Tell me what happens.

Bunny1 Think about your identity name carefully.  If you are making up your own business name, make it memorable. It seems to me that "Bunny With a Tool Belt" is wacky enough to be memorable. That is good marketing. On the other hand, on her postcard (above right) Hilary Pfeifer did not put her name anywhere on the card. "Bunny with a Tool Belt" is the business identity.

I admit to being confused by this approach. All the name recognition gained for either your business or your own name doesn't really benefit the other...unless you market them together.

Reware1 Reware_solar_tote Rewareeverest RewareEmikoshorts PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME should avoid using a term in your business name that has many other associations. Ironically, "reware" (used by emiko oye for her website and business identity) has many other search results (shown to the left) from reware clothing, to a reware business for solar bags, solar backpacks, computer parts,  and software. Starting out with a business name with many other search associations just makes it harder to stand out as a singular identity in any niche market for your business. (Try typing in Reware in an image search to see what happens.) 

If there is a list of competitors with the same or similar business names, it is hard to get a top search engine ranking for your business.



So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.

What is your solution to this dilemma and why? I'd like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say to add insight to this issue. What are the search results for your name, business name, and website? Are you Lost or Found?


Future posts will be about tag lines and improving SEO for your images and website with easy suggestions.

This post was updated on January 27, 2022.

Web site updates for the New Year

With the New Year, it's time to check a few updates regarding your website.

First, update the copyright date on your website. Usually, this is at the bottom of your main pages. The purpose is to protect your content. In addition, search engines read a current date as an indication of a well-maintained site which improves your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rankings. Just update the date on every main page with a copyright date. This is easy to do.

The next task for the new year is to start a new email habit. Start using the email address that refers to your website instead of your generic "Gmail", "yahoo" or "mac" account. For example, my address is harriete[at]harrieteestelberman [dot]com. I also have a few other email accounts, but this is the email address that has a clear professional identity for me as an artist. Start now to gradually wean all your email contacts and professional information to your website email. Next time you print business cards and postcards use the email address for your website. Start now to make the transition as inexpensive and painless as possible.

Finally, I had a question from a reader about ALT image tags discussed in a previous post.

Most of us are now using a template site like Squarespace. These sites all provide tutorials for their subscribers. Use them. One of my goals this year is to take a few minutes to update myself with these tutorials.

An important option is the ALT Image tag. It is easy to skip over but the reason for your ALT image description (outside of helping the disabled "read" your site) is that the ALT tags also help with SEO. Search engines can't read or interpret images -- they can only read the image descriptions. Every image on your website offers search engines nothing, nada, zip information unless you add ALT image tags.  With ALT image tags any Internet surfer looking for images can find your work with Google Images.

I love watching video tutorials to help me learn about these Internet nuts and bolts issues in a non-technical way. This video from Google discusses using ALT attributes smartly.  While the video is a few years old the information is still relevant.

Fading Identity a Vanity Seat by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled tin cans.
Fading Identity © 2002
Recycled Tin Cans
Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Here is an example from my website. Look for the image of this chair on the Identity Chair page by CLICKING HERE. Find the image of the Vanity Seat at the top of the right column, in the first row of four images.

Every page on my website is always ready for review and improvement. When I set up my new website (a couple of years ago) ....I didn't have time to make new pages for every artwork...but as time goes by....each page has been developed more extensively.  This page is ready for a redo with a separate page for each artwork and more descriptive text. for both SEO and viewer information. 

On my website, the ALT tags are essential because my website is mostly images and I decided not to clutter up my main pages with tons of text. Bad news for SEO, but at least so far, I have decided to place aesthetics before SEO. Other websites may make different decisions.


  This post was updated on February 5 , 2022.

Images on your website, Are they lost or found?

The images on your website are handled differently than the images on social networking sites. Generally speaking, most artists' websites are all about images.

People come to an artist's site to see images. Most images will have a title and description, but in addition, it is very important to use your "ALT image" tag to describe the image.

Ada_logoWhat is an "ALT image" tag?
Originally, the purpose was to help visually impaired people to read about an image on the Internet. It was mandated by ADA (American Disability Act).  With a text reading software application, the text reader describes the image based on what is written in the "ALT image" tag.

Your website images will function perfectly well without "ALT image" tags, but in recent years, search engines have started using "ALT image" tags for another purpose - search. 

Search engines review the entire site for information that better indicates or confirms that the website is credible. The duplication of the text that is visible on your web page (i.e. a title and/or description) and in the "ALT image" tag raises your ranking - and this is what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about.

The "ALT image" tags are also used in a Google IMAGE Search. In other words, since search engines can't see an image, the "ALT image" tag provides search engines with a text representation of your graphics.

Harriete Estel Berman jewelry page of bracelets made from recycled tin cans.2

The more images on your website, the more important your "ALT image" tags become.  Another good reason to write an "ALT image" tag for every photo.

Here is Google Webmasters video about ALT tags.

"Matt Cutts Discusses the Importance of alt Tags"

Where is my "ALT image"?
The "ALT image" tag is in the HTML code for your web page. It is not normally visible to the viewer but this is what search engines actually read. You can see the HTML or XHTML for any website by going to the toolbar at the top of the page. CLICK on VIEW > Page Source. There it is!

If you are using Dreamweaver to construct your website, when you insert an image into a page, there will be a prompt to write a description of your image. This is your "ALT image" tag.

What should you write? 
It should be a short accurate description.

How long should it be?
I wish I knew the exact answer. My reasonable answer is to put the most pertinent information, without exaggeration, and all the while thinking about what a person would be looking for when they want that particular image.

  Bar Code Identity Necklace  © 2007
 Harriete Estel Berman
  plastic, vintage beads, recycled tin
  cans, brass, magnet

   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

For example, I usually include my name in the "ALT tag" and a brief description. Here is the "ALTtag" for this image.

alt="Bar Code Identity Necklace Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman."

NOTE how the title on the website repeats the "ALT tag." 

During the holidays when business is slow, go back and write titles, tags, descriptions, and "ALT tags," for all your images.



This post was updated on January 8, 2022.

Superhero images - now animated

Great pun but this is no cartoon movie.  On the Web, an animated image is actually one image file that has two or more rotating images.  It can all be incorporated into one image file with a .gif  ending.  

Boston Chinese Tea Blue and White teapot by Harriete Estel Berman
Boston Chinese Tea
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


To the right is an example. This digital image file is titled  CaD-a.gif on my computer. The small "-a"  is my way to remember it as an animated image file. 

GIF files are the only file extension (.gif) that supports an animated image. The downside is that the images are limited to 256 colors.  But for smaller images, I rarely feel that this compromises the impact more than the benefit of eye-catching animation.  

I love animated images, it's a great way to show multiple views of one object, painting, sculpture, etc. You can actually adjust the timing on the rotating image rather easily. The rotating images can even be set to turn off after a few cycles and show only one image thereafter -- painting, sculpture, etc. 

You can make a GIF in image editing software.  There are also online sites that will make you a GIF (for free.)

Multiple close-ups plus the full view of the same artwork are an ideal application for animation.  This is one of those special features you can easily add to your website with fantastic impact.

Animated images are like a strong spice. A little bit goes a long way. Don't put more than one animated image on the same page of your website. It looks very confusing when several animated images are moving at the same time.

WARNING!  Do not send animated images in a portfolio of your work or in emails. These animated .gifs are compressed files. Because the image keeps moving it is not suitable for close inspection. The limited color selection and compression means that these images are not suitable for print. GIFs are a fantastic option for an animated image on your website, just keep in mind the limitations.

Do not insert a GIF image and change the size of the image....The GIF will not work. 

Frankly, I am not sure social networking sites will support animated images.  Do your own research. The sites sometimes say that they will accept GIF images files, but when I tried to upload an animated GIF, the animation did not work.  I have a feeling that animated images are best on your own website. At this point, I rarely use GIF images except in rare situations. 

One more issue related to animated images: Make sure you include the ALT tags (image description) in the HTML code for better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your images.

The post was updated on December 22, 2021, to provide current links.

Create an "image description" for every artwork.

When you have selected which images will represent your work, you need to immediately compose an "image description."  The image description is a permanent supplement to your photographic image. Once created your image description can be used over and over in a wide spectrum of opportunities. Copy and paste the description into jury applications and exhibition opportunities and when posting your images online with Web 2.0 social networking like Facebook, Crafthaus, and more! In addition, include it in your own  Inventory Record, Artist Statement, press releases, and art/craft newsletters.

Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street.tihf
Reality Studded with Thorns Hides the Front Door from the Street Photo Credit: Philip Cohen



Your image description should include the following.

  • Artist's name
  • Title of the work
  • Copyright symbol
  • Date of work
  • Media or materials
  • Dimensions (height, width, depth)

Here is what my image description looks like if it were printed on an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. CLICK ON THE BOX below to see this example clearly.
Sometimes I will include a very brief description of a unique aspect of a particular piece such as opening, closing or functional aspect not apparent in the photo. CLICK ON THE BOX below to see this nice a clear.


Your image descriptions can develop professional opportunities. Give your superhero images the captions that they need.  Use every opportunity no matter how small or large to give the viewer the information they need to understand and interpret the photos of your work.  

BUNSinOVEN- Bunsoven_back 

Jurors, editors, and curators always want to select the best work, but in reality, all work submitted is evaluated on the quality and interpretation of the photographic images.  Give the jurors as much insight as you can with an appropriate image description.  

For more information, use the two new documents in the Professional Guidelines to help evaluate your photos. The Guide to Professional Quality Images offers concrete issues to consider in your photos.  Working with Digital Images Effectively will assist you in practical aspects of digital images.

This post was updated on December 22, 2021.