In the greater blogging world they speak of the importance of adding pictures to posts, the get more readers, shares… blah blah blah. In our hobby community, adding pictures isn’t the problem (we are sharing our painted miniatures after all) but rather may don’t understand the importance of the metadata associated with the image.
As hobby bloggers, we are often uploading our images or WIP models, finished collections, or battle reports to have readers enjoy, critique, or even find us. It’s that last point I wish to speak on today as I’ve noticed many of my fellow bloggers miss out on new readers by not adding a description to their images.
The Might Google Image Search
If you go to images.google.com right now and type in your army, faction, character, does your miniatures pop up? Perhaps that doesn’t matter to you, but if you spent time creating a post on your conversion or a fantastic painting tutorial, having new people find it would be good yeah?
While the Google is smart (scary smart sometimes) it still can’t scan your blog, see the picture of you finished Kill Team and know to show it to people looking for Deathwatch squads. Not unless you give it some help.
Adding Pictures to Your Post
It all starts when you upload your image to your post. Actually a bit before when you save the image.
Perhaps you checked out my post on editing pictures or are taking the pictures straight off your camera phone. Either way, if your image file is named IMG_2639.JPG you are missing out on step 1: change the picture filename.
Before uploading it, change the name of your image to include a basic description of what it contains. The image name above was from my painting light skin tutorial, so the I changed the image name to: painting-light-faces-1-drybrush-base.jpg
Now not only will Google be able to look at the filename and parse out that it’s about painting light faces, but if someone right clicks and saves it to their computer, they get a description of the file as well. Super useful when someone puts together a post like Good Reads 🙂
Alt Text and Title
Now that your image has a propa’ name, it’s ready to upload to your post and share it with the world!
Well, almost. A picture on the internet has three additional pieces of information that tools like Google image search and Pinterest use to understand the picture. These are the Alt Text, Description, and Image Title.
The Alt Text is meant to replace the image if the user can’t see the picture. Use it to describe the basics of the picture in case it didn’t load correctly or your reader uses a screen reader. This seems to be what Google uses as the primary text field for its search bots, so make sure it is descriptive.
So Step 2: Add Alt Text that describes in words what the picture includes. If it is an Ork Boy with Big Shoota, that will make for a good Alt Text entry.
When you hover over a picture, it is the image title that pops up as a text overlay. XKCD uses this to add a little quip about the comic. You should use it to add a simple title for the image for the user to see when they hover over it.
While not used as the primary source for search engines, it is still useful for screen readers and the Pinterest Pin tools. So Step 3: Add a Title.
Description and Caption
On WordPress, images have the additional options to add a description and a caption.
The caption is text that is displayed under the image (as the name would suggest). It’s not part of the picture data itself, so it doesn’t help with search results. But if it adds something to help your read understand the image, add it. I use it on the Good Reads to give credit to the creator.
The description is only shown on the image’s page. Didn’t know WordPress create a page for every image? It’s not typical for sites to link to the attachment page, but some themes/plugins can use it for the gallery views.
Importance for SEO and Social
So how does all this get back to getting found and shared?
It’s all part of the magical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that internet marketeers (without the swords) use to describe how to maximize your chance of getting found by search engines like Google.
We can start it from how you search. If you are starting to think about an army of blue Skitarii, you might pop that into Google to see who else has done Skitarii in blue. A bunch of pictures pops up of metal men in blue robes – just what you were looking for! Maybe you even clicked through a couple to see who painted it and what else they did.
Want someone to do the same and find your images and click through to your site?
The add the metadata mentioned above and help the Google understand what is in your pictures.
Pinterest and Social
While Pinterest is viewed as a stay-at-home-mom spot sharing recipes and knitting tips, there are are a ton of hobbyist sharing pictures there. I’ve only dabbled with it myself, but doing a search for Warhammer 40k boards gave me hundreds to peruse through.
Why bring this up? Because people might be ‘pinning’ pictures from your site.
With a simple plugin to your browser, each picture can get a button to save it to one of your boards. When they do so, the Title of the image is used as the default description. So when people find your picture on Pinterest, it is the Title that tells them what it is, and possibly who painted it.
If you only took a few things from this post, or only want to do a few changes, try them in the following order:
- Add the Alt Text to a picture that describes what is in it
- Change the filename of the picture before you load it to be descriptive
- Add a Title to the image for services like Pinterest to nab
- On WordPress you can add a Description and Caption if you want
It’s now back to you. Next time you upload a picture to your blog, make sure you take a few extra minutes and add an Alt Text and Title. Add them to some of your most popular blogs. Add them to your favorite pictures.
Continue to add them as you go and see if your incoming traffic from search goes up. Do a search for your own miniatures and see where they are in the results.