As an author, there’s a natural fit for what images you might use on your website: your book cover(s) & your author photo.
But did you know that the filename of those images and the Alt and Title tags you included when adding them to your site are huge influencers of their searchability?
Let me explain what those things are one-by-one:
I’ve included a sample image here in this blog post. The filename of this image is “Author-Website-SEO.jpg”, and that’s because I’m creating this blog post to help authors make their websites more searchable. I named the image when I created it with the idea that if an author is looking for help, they’re likely to search for something like “Author Website SEO”, and I want this blog post to show up as a resource for them.
When someone searches that phrase, they’ll get text-based search results, but they’ll also get image-based results. If you’ve never tried this, go do a Google Search right now for that phrase — you’ll see options just below the search box that let you show results that are Images, News, Videos, etc..
If you click on Images, you’ll see the results change from text to showing you images:
And sometimes when you search for a phrase, you’ll get both kinds of results — with a sample of images shown above the text results. The filename is a large part of why the images that show up in image-based results are there — search engines can’t actually see your images, the only info they have to go on are the filename, the page/post on which the image is found, and the Alt and Title tags added when the image is added to the page/post. So all of that information is utilized when it comes to search engines indexing images online.
So, what are Alt and Title tags? Alt tags and Title tags are added in the code when an image is added to a website page or post. Even if you don’t see the code that’s being created for you, behind the scenes it’ll look like this:
<img src=”filename.jpg” alt=”Alt Text Here” Title=”Title Text Here” />
Alt tags were originally created for people using screen readers. People with visual impairment use the internet, and screen readers help them navigate an often visual world — when encountering an image on the page, if an Alt tag exists, the screen reader reads the Alt tag which describes the image, and if it’s left blank screen readers skip over it. We’ve already established that search engines don’t see images, so they factor in the Alt tag as they’re meant to describe the images when it comes to indexing them. Search engines also use the Alt tags of images as a factor when helping index the page or post that contains the images, as the images are likely contextual to the topic of the page or post.
Title tags are similar in construction, but have a slightly different function. If you’ve placed your mouse over an image on the internet and a small box displays with some text in it, that text is the Title tag — it’s sometimes called the “Tooltip.” It’s not required, and is not as important as an Alt tag for searchability, but is a simple addition that can only help you.
The Alt tag and Title tag should be the same — both describing the purpose of the image — and the filename should be similar, but perhaps using a connector like a hyphen (-) since spaces don’t work elegantly in file names. And just like choosing keywords for your pages and posts, you want them to be more specific than generic as that will get you closer to your target audience. Wordpress makes it very simple to add both tags, and you’ll see the option to add them when you upload an image:
Here are a handful of examples that might apply to an author website:
- If you’re uploading your book cover image to your site, make sure the filename is the title plus the genre plus the word “book” — like: Book-Title-Medical-Thriller-Book.jpg, then the Alt and Title tags would be “Book Title Medical Thriller”
- If you’re uploading an author photo to your website make sure the filename is your name, and then add your genre and the word “author” — like: Firsname-Lastname-Romance-Author.jpg”, then the Alt and Title tags would be “Firsname Lastname Romance Author”
- And don’t forget about other images that you might add:
- Photos from Events, like signings or conferences. You might add an image called “firstname-lastname-childrens-book-signing.jpg” with Alt and Title tags, “Firstname Lastname children’s book signing” — replacing the name and genre which what’s right for you
- And following the same rules you might add photos of places or things that inspire your writing, or where you write, or the proofs of your book when they arrive, or your readings, or of your book in a book store display, or use a site like Canva to create images of quotes you love — you’re only limited by your imagination here
You have a great opportunity to help your author site searchability by including images in your website pages and blog posts, and it’s very easy, so there’s no excuse not to. Not only will you have a leg up on other websites that don’t use images on their pages, but if you name them strategically you’ll have a leg up on sites that use images, but haven’t optimized them.