Easy Wins With SEO – Alt Tags & Meta Descriptions

Ranking Better On Search Engines

This week we’re going to focus on two things that live behind the scenes. Will your website work if you ignore them? Yes. But giving them attention improves the user experience of your site and can help your ranking as well.

1.  ALT (Alternative) Tags

Long, long ago, almost in a galaxy far far away, the ALT tag was born because Google can’t read pictures, and blind people can’t see them. The problem was finding a way to let Google know what a picture was about, and providing a simple explanation so that when someone was “reading” your site with a screen reader they would get an explanation of the picture as well.

In addition to explaining the photo, where possible, include your keywords and key phrases. Warning: If you “spam” your ALT tags by stuffing them with keywords, Google will know, and you’ll get your hand slapped (potentially lowering your rankings).

How to add ALT Tags

Website admin areas make it easy to add ALT tags – here’s a screenshot of how WordPress plays. When you are editing a page and click on an image, the ALT tag field is front and center.

Alternative Text for images

The content you add here will never show on the front end of the website, but it is in the code behind the scenes (I know it’s small – squint into the yellow highlight)

Alt tags code

2. Meta Descriptions

Like ALT tags, Meta Descriptions were born ages ago. They were meant to give a short description of your page that the search engines would show just below the title of your page in the search results. It’s not a key ranking factor, instead, it should be that warm and fuzzy invite for people to click through on the link and go to your website.

You want to include keywords in your Meta Descriptions because Google will highlight them in bold in the search results. Again, don’t make it spammy, because the world will see if you’re serving up a SPAM sandwich or something totally worth visiting.

How to add Meta Descriptions to your pages

Meta Descriptions screenshotFor WordPress, depending on the SEO plugin you’re using, the Meta Descriptions are located in different locations. Other systems like WIX or Weebly have the feature, but it’s probably buried in the page settings.

We love working with the Yoast SEO plugin (the free version takes you miles down the road), so we will be sharing screenshots from it below. Your Meta Description can be about 155 characters long, should contain a keyword phrase, and invite people to connect with you. Yoast has a great article with tips on how to write good meta descriptions. Instead of copying what they wrote… here’s the link 🙂

When you’re editing the page (in WordPress, and with the Yoast plugin), scroll below your content and click on the preview or Edit Snippet button. It will expand to show you the following (see screenshot). Make your changes and then click update on the page.

Bonus – Your Title Tag

The Title Tag for your page has been one of the key ranking factors for Google for a very long time. It is the larger, blue and underlined text that Google generally shows on search results. If you haven’t customized the title tags, Google will pick the page title and use it.

To customize your Title Tag, use the same section that you were using for your Meta Description.

  • Your title tag can be longer than the 60 characters, but Google will only show about 60 characters.
  • Make sure you put the most important keyword (or phrase) first.
  • Don’t stuff it with keywords – be concise and clear because this is what will show potential site visitors you have their solution.

We want to see you thrive!  Take advantage of our completely free in-depth website review. This isn’t a thinly veiled sales pitch to get you into a new website, just solid feedback with no strings attached. Even if we built your current site, let’s take the time for a review to make sure it’s in focus with where your business is now.