Is a picture worth a thousand words?
Yes so long as the picture doesn’t contain the words!
Let me explain. I look at a lot of sites, general sites and Internet Marketing sites, in order to learn from. One thing that surprises me is how often people use pictures that are actually just text.
This is an example:
That picture was actually over 5000 pixels long…
Now I don’t know whether its a lack of knowledge or people have been sold a crappy site, but using an image for text makes NO sense. And I have seen this on so many business sites out there!
Why is this a bad thing?
Because of on page SEO. With an image you add two things that help with SEO, a Title tag and an Alt tag.
- A Title tag is what people will see when they hover over the image (try it on the one above).
- An Alt tag (for alternative) is what people see when the image cannot be shown, like with screen readers or images turned off.
N.B. don’t try and cram keywords randomly into these, as that can be seen as spam, if you can’t find a suitable, relevant keyword for the picture, just put something basic.
Both of these are great and can (should!) be used for SEO – a picture of a muscled arm, Title tag = The post title or something like “Big muscles can be yours with ProductX!”, Alt tag = A muscled arm picture.
Search engines like Google look at these tags and use them, but if you have text within the image the robots (bots, spiders) that search engines use cannot read the text. So if you have some brilliant SEO keywords in that image they are wasted!
Also, using images for text slows a page down, especially on slower connections, whilst the image loads, and Google for one puts some SEO in relation to how fast your site loads up.
But with text, all the words there are potential keywords and potential content (depending on what it says of course), so it makes sense to use just text instead of text within an image, in order to help boost SEO and get your information out there for people to find.
On the flip side, im not saying don’t use pictures, just use them appropriately. You should use pictures for things that enhance your text copy such as a muscled arm on a muscle gaining website, or that provide info like a chart or something like that, but please don’t just use it for text copy, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run.
Also when using an image, try and give the image filename something human readable: i.e. a_muscled_arm.jpg or productx.jpg rather than DSC00253.jpg as more and more traffic is being gained from Google Images and similar services.
07/19/2012 @ 7:31 pm
As always your site is a great help. I’ve been trying to figure out the correct way to use tags within my images for a while now. Your post has cleared it up for me. I come here every time I need to learn anything about word press. Thanks so much.
07/19/2012 @ 8:30 pm
You’re welcome Chris. I recently saw an article about the mistakes made in coding and forgetting ALT tags was in the top ten. It has an effect on SEO too so definitely worth making sure ALT and TITLE tags are included on all images