The Lowdown on WordPress Images

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia

This stunning picture of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia, was a featured picture on Wikimedia Commons yesterday. Photo credit: Poco a poco, Wikimedia Commons.

Alternative text, title, description, caption – WordPress images can seem rather confusing to the beginner. What do these various elements mean, and how are they relevant to readers? In this week’s post, we take a look at the different elements in WordPress images, as well as the thorny topic of image attribution.

Below is a breakdown of the various descriptive elements that relate to WordPress images. You can see these when you add an image, as well as change them from the Media Library or within a post.

Title

This is the title of the image that will be displayed when the image attachment page is viewed, or when the image is seen in a Gallery.

Alternative Text

This field is absolutely essential for users who may be unable to view the images in your posts, including some mobile users and visually impaired users. The alternative text will appear if the image is not displayed. As well, the alternative text will appear as a tooltip if your reader hovers their cursor over the image.

Description

Text entered into this field will not appear anywhere on your post. However, it will appear on the permalink page of the image in your Media Library, and will also appear on the attachment page if your image is used in a Gallery.

Caption

This is a handy tool that allows you to place text under the image. This is great for infographics, news story photos, etc. It’s also a fun way to comment on the image outside the normal flow of the post.

That’s basically all you need to know about WordPress images. But before I wrap it up, it’s time for me to take off my WordPress hat, and jump into the obligatory copyright spiel. Alley-oop!

Don’t Be a Brute – Attribute!

Finding an image for your blog post can seem like the easiest thing in the world – fire up Google Images, grab the first result, and upload it. But is it really that easy?

Copyright is often conveniently overlooked on the Internet. In this vast slurry of shared, copied, recopied, and remixed content, who cares about the source of an image? As a responsible blog owner, you should. Before appropriating an image for your blog, take some time to learn about copyright fair use. Once you have determined that an image can be used on your site without breaking copyright law, it’s time to think about attribution.

Attribution in posts is essential to being a good Internet citizen. If you write about a news story from somewhere else, you should link to it at the bottom of the post. The same thing applies to images. The quickest and easiest approach is to set the image to link back to the original. However, in my opinion, the best way to credit a photo is to provide a clear reference, either in the caption or at the end of the article. You can see all three in this post.

Before We Go, It’s SEO!

When assigning titles and alt text to an image, it’s important to keep solid SEO principles in mind (since you might be surprised how many people can find your site through Google Image searches). Consider what keywords people are likely to use to find your post, and incorporate them into the alt text. Filenames and text should be descriptive and easy for search engines to recognize.

One handy tool that can ensure that all of your images are SEO-friendly is the aptly named SEO Friendly Images, a WordPress plug-in that automatically updates all images with proper alt and title attributes.

(Photo credit: Poco a poco, Wikimedia Commons)

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About Nancy Bain

Our services include building optimized, functional and self managed WordPress websites, Nova Scotia social media training and consulting, interactive full screen high definition virtual tours with lead capture and print advertising. For most of our clients, we are their one stop solution for all things marketing, branding and small business development related.

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