This past weekend during the Blogger Boot Camp where over 50 new and prospective genealogy bloggers were “immersed” in anything and everything about Blogger, I mentioned the importance of properly naming and tagging image files in your blog posts.
Power Up Your Blogger Images
Why should it really matter if your image file name is image01.jpg instead of Obtituary of John Smith.jpg? And should you add descriptive language to the uploaded image? Here’s why:
- By changing the file name to one that describes the image, you’ll make it easier for others to locate your image, your blog post and your “cousin bait.” It isn’t easy to determine the name of an ancestor in an image when the image name is image01.jpg.
- By adding descriptive text, you’ll allow others to use Google Images to find your images.
- From a social media sharing standpoint, adding descriptive text to the image allows you to control what gets posted along with the image to Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms.
Descriptive File Names
Remember when file names were limit to eight characters or less and no spaces? Well if you don’t you are lucky those days of caveman computing are over! Make sure you rename images that are produced from a scanner or mobile phone camera so that the name describes – briefly – the content of the image.
Most devices will spit out a sequential file number such as IMG 0001 or SC0001 etc. Here are some ways to add a descriptive file name:
- Be as brief as possible. Instead of “My great-great-great grandmother’s obituary” which doesn’t indicate who you are or your ancestors’ name, use something like “Death notice Catherine Sullivan O’Keefe 1928.”
- Some researchers prefer a specific naming convention such as “OKEEFE Catherine Sullivan obit 1928.” Be consistent if you do decide on a formatting system and style.
- Save longer descriptions for the Image TITLE and ALT tags mentioned below.
Image TITLE and ALT Tags in HTML
Once you’ve uploaded your image to Blogger, you can add text to the Image TITLE and ALT tags in HTML without even having to know HTML coding.
- The ALT tag allows you to add “alternate” text which is helpful when a viewer uses a browser which has disabled images. Instead of the image, they’ll see a grey box with the ALT text in the center. Technically the ALT tag is reserved in HTML for displaying alternate text when the image cannot be properly displayed. Another reason to use ALT text is that those with visual impairments who use a screen reader will hear the ALT text when encountering the image.
- TITLE, when used in conjunction with the IMG tag, defines the title of the document, or image, in our case. It displays information when the mouse hovers over the image and it provides “excerpt” text for social media postings. The TITLE tag is also used with the HREF tag for links to give a descriptive name to a hyperlink.
Example: Scanned Obituary of Catherine Sullivan O’Keefe
Here is a recent post at my blog Destination: Austin Family about Catherine Sullivan O’Keefe’s death in 1928.
Once the image is added to the post in draft mode, click the image and you’ll see a toolbar appear.
Click the Properties link and the Image Properties dialog box appears.
Here you can add the Title text and the Alt text. They can be the same or they can be different. Usually the Title text is more descriptive but I’ve reversed them in this example.
The result: Hover the mouse over the image and the Title text appears.
In addition, when posting to social media such as Pinterest, the Title text is included:
And finally, a search on Google Images using descriptive text will bring up the image:
Yes it is tempting to go back to all your images in your blog and set the IMG TITLE and ALT text, but start by getting in the habit of adding the information on all new blog posts going forward. Then cherry pick the most important blog posts – the one’s you feel best serve as cousin bait for your genealogy – and update the descriptive photo information.
©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.