Hey, Siri, find me a recipe for baked potatoes. Okay, Google, how do I get to Aunt Agamemnon’s house?
Have you done this recently - asked your phone or even a smart speaker in your house for some form of information? With the three major smart assistants vying for a space in your world, you’re more likely than ever to have one in your possession today and may find they’re in more places tomorrow.
Apple has made Siri available on its smart phones, tablets, watches and now even on its computers. That company even has a home speaker system which almost completely operates by voice command, somehow able to understand what you’re asking it even when you’re playing music.
Of course this is nothing new to anyone who has been enticed into an Alexa device from Amazon or even one of the smart speakers from Google. And the Android operating system works with a voice assistant as well.
We may have thought that it was a fantasy when Dick Tracy talked into his watch, but today we can do just that with the variety of smart watches that are available.
The point being? Many people call themselves web designers or wish to do their own websites despite no training whatsoever. Tools like Wix and Weebly and others promise to turn the average Schlameel into a web master.
But there are so many tricks to getting found on search results and the point of starting this blog post with the voice assistants is to illustrate that the photos that you use on your website should have what are called “alt tags.” Wait, don’t go away - this is interesting. I promise.
The next time you see a computer or a smart phone go to Google and do a search for something, let’s say 1959 Plymouth Fury. Boy I love those. Along the top of the results will be tabs including “All,” “Images,” “Shopping,” “Videos,” and several others. How does Google know what a 1959 Plymouth Fury is? Alt tags.
When you use a picture on a website one of the tricks to getting found in search is to use alt tags to describe what’s in the picture. This will tell Google, and all those voice assistants, what you have there on the website which helps you get found in search.
So if your website is about food, or interior design, or 1959 Plymouth Furies, having the pictures have alt tags helps them get found in search. Search engines need your help in delivering results.
How do you provide alt tags? That’s a really good question. I put them right into the photographs themselves using Adobe Photoshop. Most web development tools will let you add them as you’re adding the photographs to the site.
Even better, the more descriptive you are of the photo the more likely it will show-up in a search. And, as I’ve written before, it doesn’t matter how people get to your website, just that they do if you have what they’re looking for.
For example, if you’re a tourism-oriented website and you have some beautiful photography of your destination and people come to your lodging property as a result of searching for photos of your destination, that’s a win. They might want to stay with you, right? And the only way that the search engines will point them in your direction is if you have the photos properly tagged.
If you’ve already got a lot of photos on your website going back and tagging them may seem like a daunting task; however, as you’re adding new photos to your blog (you do have a blog, right?) you can tag the photos you add. Maybe then set some time aside here and there to go back and tag the previous ones, if you haven’t already.
Just a tip - one of the reasons I like using Photoshop to provide the tags is that there is also a place for the website, for any copyright information, author, description, tags and a few other factors, all of which can help your photos get found.
And don’t ignore the power of using photos as a component of marketing with things like Pinterest and Instagram. I use these and actually put my various “brands” on the photographs as well just as I do with the hero image from these blog posts.
One final bit - having your photos properly tagged also helps those with visual challenges to enjoy your website too. The reading tools that they use will go through the site reading the text and will also read the tags on the photo - so be kind to the blind. It’s the law, also, as the Americans with Disabilities Act also applies to websites.