Tag - Optimize

Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines


Are you looking to improve image SEO on your website? When optimized properly, image search can bring many new visitors to your website.

To benefit from image SEO, you need to help search engines find your images and index them for the right keywords.

In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to optimize image SEO by following top best practices.

Image SEO guide for beginners

Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in this article.

  • Optimizing your images for SEO and Speed
  • What is Alt text?
  • Difference between Alt text vs title
  • Difference between alt text and caption
  • How to add alt text, title, and caption to images in WordPress
  • When to use captions for images
  • Disable attachment pages in WordPress
  • Additional tips to improve image SEO

Optimizing Your Images for SEO and Speed

Speed plays an important role in SEO and user experience. Search engines consistently rank fast websites higher. This is also true for the image search.

Images increase your overall page load time. They take longer to download than text, which means your page loads slower if there are several large image files to download.

You need to make sure that images on your site are optimized for web. This can be a little tricky to get used to since many beginners are not experts in graphics and image editing.

We have a handy guide on how to properly optimize images before uploading them to your website.

The best way to optimize images is by editing them on your computer using a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. This allows you to choose the right file format to create a small file size.

You can also use an image compression plugin for WordPress. These image optimizer plugins allow you to automatically reduce file size while uploading an image to WordPress.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text or alternative text is an HTML attribute added to the img tag which is used to display images on a web page. It looks like this in plain HTML code:

<img src="http://www.wpbeginner.com/fruitbasket.jpeg" alt="A fruit basket" />

It allows website owners to describe the image in plain text. The main purpose of the alternate text is to improve accessibility by enabling screen readers to read out the alt text for visually impaired users.

Alt text is also crucial for image SEO. It helps search engines understand the context of the image.

Modern search engines can recognize an image and it’s content by using artificial intelligence. However, they still rely on website owners to describe the image in their own words.

Alt text also accompanies images in Google image search, which helps users understand the image and improves your chances of getting more visitors.

Alt text used in search results

Usually, alt text is not visible on your website. However if an image is broken or cannot be found, then your users will be able to see the alternate text with a broken image icon next to it.

Alternate text displayed next to a broken image

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Title

Alt text is used for accessibility and image SEO, while title field is used internally by WordPress for media search.

Search image by title

WordPress inserts the alt tag in the actual code used to display the image. The title tag is stored in the database to find and display images.

In the past, WordPress inserted the title tag in the HTML code as well. However, it was not an ideal situation from the accessibility point of view, which is why they removed it.

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Caption

The alt text is used to describe the image for search engines and screen readers. On the other hand, the caption is used to describe the image for all users.

Alt text is not visible on your website while captions are visible below your images.

Example of a caption displayed below an image

The alt text is crucial for better image SEO on your website. The caption is optional and can be used only when you need to provide additional information about the image to website visitors.

How to Add Alt Text, Title, and Caption to Images in WordPress

Alt text, title, and caption make up the image metadata that you can add to images when uploading them into WordPress.

When you add an image using the default image block, WordPress allows you to add caption and alt text for the image.

Adding alt text and caption to an image in WordPress

It automatically generates a title for the image from the file name. You can change the title by clicking on the edit button in the image block’s toolbar.

Editing an image in default WordPress editor

This will bring up the media uploader popup where you can enter your own custom title for the image.

Changing image title in WordPress

You can also edit the alt tag and title for the images that you have already uploaded to WordPress. To do that, you need to visit Media » Library page and locate the image you want to edit.

WordPress media library

Simply clicking on an image will bring up the attachment details popup where you can enter title, alt text, and caption.

Add alt tag and title via media library

Note: Changing an image’s alt tag or caption via Media Library will not change it in the posts and pages where the image is already used.

When to Use Captions for Images in WordPress

Captions allow you to provide additional details for an image to all your users. They are visible on the screen for all users including search engines and screen readers.

An image gallery with captions for each image

As you may have noticed that most websites don’t normally use captions with images in their blog posts or pages. That’s because captions are often not needed to explain an image.

Captions are more suitable in the following scenarios:

  • Family or event photos
  • Photos that need additional explanation describing the background story
  • Product image galleries

In most cases, you would be able to explain the image in the article content itself.

Disable Attachment Pages in WordPress

WordPress creates a page for all images you upload to your posts and pages. It is called the attachment page. This page just shows a larger version of the actual image and nothing else.

This can have a negative SEO impact on your search rankings. Search engines consider pages with little to no text as low quality or ‘thin content’.

This is why we recommend users to disable the attachment pages on your website.

The easiest way to do this is by installing and activating the Yoast SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, it automatically turns off attachment URLs. You can also manually turn off attachment pages in WordPress by visiting SEO » Search Appearance page and clicking on the Media tab.

Disable attachment URLs in WordPress

From here, make sure that the ‘Media & attachment URLs’ option is set to ‘Yes’.

If you are not using Yoast SEO plugin, then you can install the Attachment Pages Redirect plugin. This plugin simply redirects people visiting the attachment page to the post where the image is displayed.

You can also do this manually, by adding the following code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

function wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post()  
if ( is_attachment() )  
global $post;
if( empty( $post ) ) $post = get_queried_object();	
if ($post->post_parent)	
	$link = get_permalink( $post->post_parent );
	wp_redirect( $link, '301' );
	exit(); 
	
else	
	// What to do if parent post is not available
	wp_redirect( home_url(), '301' );
	exit(); 
	


add_action( 'template_redirect', 'wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post' );

Additional Tips to Improve Image SEO

Adding alt tag is not the only thing you can do to improve image SEO. Following are a few additional tips that you should keep in mind when adding images to your blog posts.

1. Write descriptive alt text

Many beginners often just use one or two words as alt text for the image. This makes the image too generic and harder to rank.

For example, instead of just ‘kittens’ use ‘Kittens playing with a yellow rubber duck’.

2. Use descriptive file names for your images

Instead of saving your images as DSC00434.jpeg, you need to name them properly. Think of the keywords that users will type in the search to find that particular image.

Be more specific and descriptive in your image file names. For example, red-wooden-house.jpeg is better than just house.jpeg.

3. Provide context to your images

Search engines are getting smarter every day. They can recognize and categorize images quite well. However, they need you to provide context to the image.

Your images need to be relevant to the overall topic of the post or page. It is also helpful to place the image near the most relevant text in your article.

4. Follow the SEO best practices

You also need to follow the overall SEO guidelines for your website. This improves your overall search rankings including image search.

5. Use original photographs and images

There are many free stock photography websites that you can use to find free images for your blog posts. However, the problem with stock photos is that they are used by thousands of websites.

Try to use original photographs or create quality images that are unique to your blog.

We know that most bloggers are not photographers or graphic designers. Luckily, there are some great online tools that you can use to create graphics for your websites.

We hope this article helped you learn about Image SEO for your website. You may also want to see our guide on how to fix common image issues in WordPress.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines appeared first on WPBeginner.



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How to Optimize Your Robots.txt for SEO in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)


Recently one of our readers asked us for tips on how to optimize the robots.txt file to improve SEO. Robots.txt file tells search engines how to crawl your website which makes it an incredibly powerful SEO tool. In this article, we will show you how to create a perfect robots.txt file for SEO.

Using WordPress robots.txt file to improve SEO

What is robots.txt file?

Robots.txt is a text file that website owners can create to tell search engine bots how to crawl and index pages on their site.

It is typically stored in the root directory also known as the main folder of your website. The basic format for a robots.txt file looks like this:


User-agent: [user-agent name]
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]

User-agent: [user-agent name]
Allow: [URL string to be crawled]


Sitemap: [URL of your XML Sitemap]

You can have multiple lines of instructions to allow or disallow specific URLs and add multiple sitemaps. If you do not disallow a URL, then search engine bots assume that they are allowed to crawl it.

Here is what a robots.txt example file can look like:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/

Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_index.xml


In the above robots.txt example, we have allowed search engines to crawl and index files in our WordPress uploads folder.

After that, we have disallowed search bots from crawling and indexing plugins and WordPress admin folders.

Lastly, we have provided the URL of our XML sitemap.

Do You Need a Robots.txt File for Your WordPress Site?

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then search engines will still crawl and index your website. However, you will not be able to tell search engines which pages or folders they should not crawl.

This will not have much of an impact when you’re first starting a blog and do not have a lot of content.

However as your website grows and you have a lot of content, then you would likely want to have better control over how your website is crawled and indexed.

Here is why.

Search bots have a crawl quota for each website.

This means that they crawl a certain number of pages during a crawl session. If they don’t finish crawling all pages on your site, then they will come back and resume crawl in the next session.

This can slow down your website indexing rate.

You can fix this by disallowing search bots from attempting to crawl unnecessary pages like your WordPress admin pages, plugin files, and themes folder.

By disallowing unnecessary pages, you save your crawl quota. This helps search engines crawl even more pages on your site and index them as quickly as possible.

Another good reason to use robots.txt file is when you want to stop search engines from indexing a post or page on your website.

It is not the safest way to hide content from the general public, but it will help you prevent them from appearing in search results.

What Does an Ideal Robots.txt File Should Look Like?

Many popular blogs use a very simple robots.txt file. Their content may vary, depending on the needs of the specific site:


User-agent: *
Disallow:
 
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This robots.txt file allows all bots to index all content and provides them a link to the website’s XML sitemaps.

For WordPress sites, we recommend the following rules in the robots.txt file:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /readme.html
Disallow: /refer/

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This tell search bots to index all WordPress images and files. It disallows search bots from indexing WordPress plugin files, WordPress admin area, the WordPress readme file, and affiliate links.

By adding sitemaps to robots.txt file, you make it easy for Google bots to find all the pages on your site.

Now that you know what an ideal robots.txt file look like, let’s take a look at how you can create a robots.txt file in WordPress.

How to Create a Robots.txt File in WordPress?

There are two ways to create a robots.txt file in WordPress. You can choose the method that works best for you.

Method 1: Editing Robots.txt File Using Yoast SEO

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then it comes with a robots.txt file generator.

You can use it to create and edit a robots.txt file directly from your WordPress admin area.

Simply go to SEO » Tools page in your WordPress admin and click on the File Editor link.

File editor tool in Yoast SEO

On the next page, Yoast SEO page will show your existing robots.txt file.

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then Yoast SEO will generate a robots.txt file for you.

Create robots.txt file using Yoast SEO

By default, Yoast SEO’s robots.txt file generator will add the following rules to your robots.txt file:


User-agent: *
Disallow: /

It is important that you delete this text because it blocks all search engines from crawling your website.

After deleting the default text, you can go ahead and add your own robots.txt rules. We recommend using the ideal robots.txt format we shared above.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to click on the ‘Save robots.txt file’ button to store your changes.

Method 2. Edit Robots.txt file Manually Using FTP

For this method, you will need to use an FTP client to edit robots.txt file.

Simply connect to your WordPress hosting account using an FTP client.

Once inside, you will be able to see the robots.txt file in your website’s root folder.

Editing WordPress robots.txt file using FTP

If you don’t see one, then you likely don’t have a robots.txt file. In that case, you can just go ahead and create one.

Create robots.txt file using FTP

Robots.txt is a plain text file, which means you can download it to your computer and edit it using any plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.

After saving your changes, you can upload it back to your website’s root folder.

How to Test Your Robots.txt File?

Once you have created your robots.txt file, it’s always a good idea to test it using a robots.txt tester tool.

There are many robots.txt tester tools out there, but we recommend using the one inside Google Search Console.

Simply login to your Google Search Console account, and then switch to the old Google search console website.

Switch to old Google Search Console

This will take you to the old Google Search Console interface. From here you need to launch the robots.txt tester tool located under ‘Crawl’ menu.

Robots.txt tester tool

The tool will automatically fetch your website’s robots.txt file and highlight the errors and warnings if it found any.

Final Thoughts

The goal of optimizing your robots.txt file is to prevent search engines from crawling pages that are not publicly available. For example, pages in your wp-plugins folder or pages in your WordPress admin folder.

A common myth among SEO experts is that blocking WordPress category, tags, and archive pages will improve crawl rate and result in faster indexing and higher rankings.

This is not true. It’s also against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

We recommend that you follow the above robots.txt format to create a robots.txt file for your website.

We hope this article helped you learn how to optimize your WordPress robots.txt file for SEO. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress SEO guide and the best WordPress SEO tools to grow your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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