You may have come across the terms “alt tags”, “title tags” and image “filenames” when uploading images to your Shopify website. But do you know their function and the importance of them in relation to SEO? In this article, we explain what these terms mean and how you can use these attributes to optimize your Shopify store images.
What’s the difference between image alt tags, title tags, and filenames?
Alt tags - these are often referred to as alt text. They are one and the same - an alternative text attribute of an image tag. Alt text is used by visually impaired web users, via a screen reader, to determine what an image is about. Alt text is also displayed if an image fails to load for some reason. Accessibility is the main reason alt text is needed for images. Title tags - the purpose of title tags is to provide additional information about the image. The title tag is displayed on the screen when you hover over an image with your mouse cursor. Image filenames - as you’ve probably guessed, your image filenames are simply the names you give to your images.
How alt tags, title tags, and filenames affect SEO
Alt text, when used correctly, is beneficial for SEO. Search engine bot crawlers can’t “see” images on a webpage as people do. They instead have to rely on the alt text provided to learn what an image is about.
If you’re trying to rank for a particular search term in Google, your alt text can contribute to your SEO efforts. Good alt text should be as descriptive as possible for accessibility, but should also include a targeted keyword or keyword phrase that’s relevant to your Shopify products.
Let’s say you’re selling brown coffee mugs, and you want to rank in search engines for “stylish brown coffee mug”.
Your image alt text could be something like:
img src="brown coffee mug.png" alt="Stylish brown coffee mug with white inside."
A helpful tip from Yoast.com is to consider adding the product reference number too. Be careful not to overdo keywords in your alt text, as search engines don’t like this, plus you’ll run the risk of your alt text being difficult for screen readers to decipher.
According to Moz.com, some screen readers cut off alt text at 125 characters, so this is a good reason to keep your alt text nice and short.
Search engines look at filenames to determine the subject of an image. You can help with this process by optimizing your image filenames. They don’t need to be overly long, but should sum up what the image is about.
Title tags, on the other hand, don’t have much of an impact on SEO, as they’re not used for search rankings.
How to optimize your image alt tags and filenames for your Shopify store
This article from Shopify explains exactly how to add alt text to your images. As for optimizing your image filenames, it’s just a case of renaming any randomly generated image filenames to something more appropriate.
For example, if you’ve taken a product photo, e.g., of a blue travel mug, and your camera assigns the filename IMG0123.jpg, you should rename the image to something like blue-insulated-travel-mug.jpg.
Consider keywords, but most importantly, turn your filenames into something descriptive and easy to read. Further information on this can be found in this helpful Shopify blog.
Automatic image optimization
Optimizing your image alt tags and filenames is undoubtably going to take some time, especially if you have lots of products to work through. One way to make this process less of a headache is to install a Shopify app that carries out image optimization automatically.
Take TinyIMG - Image Optimizer for instance. This app automatically generates alt tags and filenames for your images as well as reducing them by up to three-quarters of their original size. (Reducing the size of your images helps to speed up your Shopify website).
Help search engines find your store
This article from Google explains the best practices to follow when using images on the web. Above all, you should ensure they focus on the user experience. By doing this, you’ll find your visibility in search rankings will naturally increase.