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Steve Bullman

alt images tags for SEO

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I have a massive amount of images on my forum yet very few listing in google for them.  I see that IPS automatically applies the file name as the alt tag, lets face it, members are never going to add them even though the option is there.

Instead of the file name being added as default, would using the thread title be more beneficial for SEO purposes, or on a large thread with multiple images with the same tag would this prove detrimental?

Edited by Steve Bullman

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I don't believe, personally, there is any realistic way to "automate" applying a human-understandable textual description for an image, absent using some sort of AI-type service to do so. IOW, I don't think using the topic title will be an inherently better option.

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Hi, thanks for the response.

I bow to your superior knowledge to an extent, and I agree an AI type service isn't feasible.  But to my mind surely the topic title would generally be better than the file name?

For example, one topic on my forum currently is titled Hyundai 14HP wood chipper yet the images posted within have alt tags such as "img_2717", surely that would be more beneficial if it was tagged with 'hyundai 14hp wood chipper'?

I just checked and I have 219750 images posted on my forum, and according to google webmaster tools only 350 of those images are indexed which seems a huge loss of an opportunity.

391710994_ScreenShot2019-02-11at17_29_05.png.a66e73549177bd5bbf6034651d2e2c24.png

Again, I am constantly learning and accept you guys know better, but for my own personal learning if you could explain to me where the logic in my plan is floored i'd be grateful 🙂

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Hypothetically, let's say you start a topic called 'Sausages'...and ask people to post pictures of sausages. And then someone posts a picture of bacon, or some eggs, or a nice bowl of cornflakes. The alt text for all those will be 'Sausages', which is factually incorrect.

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20 hours ago, Steve Bullman said:

........[other text]..........

391710994_ScreenShot2019-02-11at17_29_05.png.a66e73549177bd5bbf6034651d2e2c24.png

Again, I am constantly learning and accept you guys know better, but for my own personal learning if you could explain to me where the logic in my plan is floored i'd be grateful 🙂

It's really easy actually.

Does "Alt images tags for SEO" actually describe the image in your post which I've just quoted? I don't believe it does. Something along the lines of "Google webmaster chart showing indexed URLs" would, but to do that...you would need human intervention, or good AI.

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Steve, 

A good image could generate more traffic than some topics. So, it makes sense to optimize for organic traffic wherever you can.

On top of that, every hit to image cost you money.

Until something is done... I recommend the following...

(This is a manual task but it's better than ignoring it.)

Go into ACP > Files report ... sort by images

Review each image and update the ones you believe are worth your time.

Click the magnify icon ... click link to topic ... Click Edit post ... double click on image ... edit Image Title ... Save

Do that to each of your most popular images.

 

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When you upload an image, show a bar which has a clickable link to allow a user to add a description for the visually impaired.

Give admin an option to insist that images have a description before submitting a post.

Show the description on the image (see how Twitter handles it).

Description = alt tag. 2 birds one stone (sorry PETA), SEO and accessibility improvements.

IPS is lacking in accessibility options, “can we have a larger font” is one I’ve had a few times from our older members. I know most desktop browsers have these built in but these older people have now discovered mobiles where it’s not always possible.

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On 2/11/2019 at 12:17 PM, Nathan Explosion said:

Hypothetically, let's say you start a topic called 'Sausages'...and ask people to post pictures of sausages. And then someone posts a picture of bacon, or some eggs, or a nice bowl of cornflakes. The alt text for all those will be 'Sausages', which is factually incorrect.

 

16 hours ago, bfarber said:

It's really easy actually.

Does "Alt images tags for SEO" actually describe the image in your post which I've just quoted? I don't believe it does. Something along the lines of "Google webmaster chart showing indexed URLs" would, but to do that...you would need human intervention, or good AI.

I wholly and completely disagree with these statements.  

You bring up entirely rhetorical arguments that ignore broader considerations.  You argue that just because we might have 1 wrong identified image of sausage, that somehow implies the rest of our images of actual sausage images are irrelevant.  And that's just not true.  

I'm here to argue that even if I have 1 or 10 or even 100 wrong identified image, the other 900 images in my image boards are still worthwhile and relevant.

Right now, Google won't index any of our images because none of them are titled correctly. I'd rather have 10 wrong images and 990 relevant and correct ones, rather than a thousand incorrectly titled images that Google will never search because users are titling every image incorrectly. So am I okay with wrong images of sausage bacon or sausage pancake? Yes, because it means the rest of my sausage images will be contextually relevant. 

This is how I see it: 

- it's my job as community admin to cultivate relevant and unique information in my niche

- its IPS' job to make that content friendly and contextual to search engines 

- it's Googles job to filter out relevant and accurate images to what users are searching for.  

I'm doing my job.  I'm not sure the other parties are doing their job.  

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10 minutes ago, Joel R said:

Right now, Google won't index any of our images because none of them are titled correctly.

I wholly and completely disagree with this statement. 😉 Cause it’s factually wrong. 

Just try it yourself. Google does of course look at the context and properly indexes images even if there is nothing but “IMG1904232.jpg” there. Heck, their AI even identifies what is on that image. 

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2 minutes ago, opentype said:

I wholly and completely disagree with this statement. 😉 Cause it’s factually wrong. 

Just try it yourself. Google does of course look at the context and properly indexes images even if there is nothing but “IMG1904232.jpg” there. Heck, their AI even identifies what is on that image. 

Ha, fair point.  

But it certainly won't hurt to give a strong signaling factor that the image is contextually relevant to a certain topic.  

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Just now, Nathan Explosion said:

I love how seriously Joel took my joke.

What's wrong with sausage pancake?? It sounds delicious.  

If my forum doesn't work out, that would be my backup plan.  

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For what it's worth, as @opentype pointed out, images do still get indexed regardless. Google does not find a page, look at an image's alt tags, and use that as the only signal as to the meaning of a given image on the page. Google does a fairly good job looking at the image in the context of the page as a whole (and as noted is expanding heavily with its AI capabilities, particularly when it comes to analyzing images).

And I'm not saying, of course, that some topic titles will match some images on a page. But if you step back and look at the example I supplied, the only image on this page is not relevant to the topic title, and this is not an uncommon scenario at all. Simply swapping out the file name (which often is related to the image itself) with the topic title is just shifting one potentially bad piece of data for another. From an automated perspective there's simply no way for software to know which is better.

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1 hour ago, bfarber said:

For what it's worth, as @opentype pointed out, images do still get indexed regardless

They may get indexed but indexed where exactly.  They certainly aren't going to show up in google

Take this image as an example. With over 200,000 images on my site I should have them showing up in the 'images for' section of a google search.

1874500558_ScreenShot2019-02-13at13_47_58.thumb.png.8a6c080f38b4d817d8bb58179a4daf02.png

 

I understand that a good percentage of the images won't necessarily be relevant to the thread title, but even if some are showing up its better than others?

Which brings me back to a part of my initial question. Would wrongly tagged images(as suggested by Nathan) be determental, or would they simply show up in the wrong place and thats that?
 

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9 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

Take this image as an example. With over 200,000 images on my site I should have them showing up in the 'images for' section of a google search.

Well that’s a matter of ranking. Quantity of images has little to do with that. 

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3 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

Isn't that missing the point?

I addressed the point I was quoting. So, no.
If you think otherwise, feel free to elaborate. If you provide nothing new, there is nothing for me to consider. 

 

16 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

Would wrongly tagged images(as suggested by Nathan) be determental, or would they simply show up in the wrong place and thats that?

Can’t remember I have read something about that. But if Google finds a find a site, where tens of thousands of images are mass-tagged with just topic titles for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if they treat that as spammy and punish the site. Because Google’s goal is simple: show the most relevant results. If you’re mass-tagging essentially tries to push non-relevant images into the results just because the ALT tag is a match, that’s against Google’s goals. It’s just like keyword spamming for example. 

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7 minutes ago, opentype said:

I addressed the point I was quoting. So, no.
If you think otherwise, feel free to elaborate. If you provide nothing new, there is nothing for me to consider.

The point being, they are not going to rank for any keyword of any value if they are tagged with img_123456, unless of course someone happens to be googling that term.

8 minutes ago, opentype said:

Can’t remember I have read something about that. But if Google finds a find a site, where tens of thousands of images are mass-tagged with just topic titles for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if they treat that as spammy and punish the site. Because Google’s goal is simple: show the most relevant results. If you’re mass-tagging essentially tries to push non-relevant images into the results just because the ALT tag is a match, that’s against Google’s goals. It’s just like keyword spamming for example. 

Ok this is the sort of information I was looking for, thanks

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3 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

The point being, they are not going to rank for any keyword of any value if they are tagged with img_123456, unless of course someone happens to be googling that term.

I think the key idea to pull away from this topic is that Google is "smart" and will not solely take at 100% face value what the alt tag is. They use context clues and their own AI system to determine relative search keywords for images. That is not saying an alt tag is useless either but it's not the sole factor 😉 .

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5 minutes ago, Steve Bullman said:

The point being, they are not going to rank for any keyword of any value if they are tagged with img_123456, unless of course someone happens to be googling that term.

And both Brandon and I have pointed out that this is just false. Google will of course look at the context, i.e. the page title and anything close to the image to figure out what it might be about. 

 I just tested it again myself. I googled images for “road sign germany”. From the millions of possible images, the 7th and 8th images are already from my own website. So I checked their file name and alt tag: they are 2168778634_3c2e33f686.jpg and 2255934862_8fab1a96e5.jpg. Case closed. 

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Keep in mind, too, that you're looking at images named "IMG_2134.jpg" locally. Yes, in that case the filename isn't too useful and perhaps using the topic title may (or may not) be more beneficial. But what if I uploaded an image named "Roadsigns in germany.jpg" (I can tell you from first hand experience that some people, such as my wife, name every single image with a unique and useful name when they download the images to their computer). In that case using the filename would definitely be better than the topic title. The problem is - we don't have a reliable way to know which to use.

I like the idea of nudging users to fill in more useful alt tags as suggested by @dayh. Sometimes it's better to use technology to push users to do more, rather than try to replace what they're capable of in the name of automation.

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13 minutes ago, bfarber said:

I like the idea of nudging users to fill in more useful alt tags as suggested by @dayh. Sometimes it's better to use technology to push users to do more, rather than try to replace what they're capable of in the name of automation.

This would be the ideal scenario. My userbase in particular would never bother though unfortunately.

Maybe if there was a field that said 'describe what this photo is about?' or 'rather than 'add alt text' might increase the liklihood a little

 

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3 minutes ago, bfarber said:

Definitely - I think if we were to add such a field, it would need to be presented in a very user friendly matter so it doesn't confuse the average user.

Well it took 20 posts but looks like we may have reached some common ground 😂

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