This is a guest post from Dana Nicole of Dana Nicole Designs.
What if your Pinterest marketing is sending Google the wrong signals?
Pinterest is a great source of traffic for so many bloggers and business owners, but none of us can afford to lose out on search engine traffic! Fortunately, there is a way to make nice with both Pinterest and Google.
Most of us know that to create Pinnable images from your website, you’ll need:
- An appealing image that has been optimized for Pinterest
- A key-word rich description with a call to action
- A URL to link to the source content
Here is where even (or maybe even especially) experienced Pinners should take note. If you’ve been using Pinterest for a while, you probably use your image’s alt text to generate your Pinterest description.
The problem is, this method can harm your website’s usability and search engine optimization (SEO).
What Is The Purpose Of Alt Text on Images?
The alt text (or alt attribute) is an extra piece of information that is added to your photos that is not visible to most visitors.
The primary purpose of the alt text is to describe the photo to visually impaired users so that they still have a good user experience when visiting your website, even if they are unable to see the photos.
The alt text also will show when your photo doesn’t load (due to page load errors) and provides context to search engines as to how your photo should be indexed.
Basically, the alt text should describe what the image is.
Why Your Images Need to Be Optimized for Pinterest AND Search Engines
According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, “a third of all searches performed in Google are for images and 12.5% of SERPs show Image Pack results.” So, give your images their best chance of appearing in search by optimizing your image alt text. Other factors that can help your images rank better on Google are the image file name and caption – which, by the way, will also help your Pinterest SEO.
How To Use Image Alt Text for Better SEO
Good alt text that boosts your search engine exposure is descriptive, brief, and incorporates keywords.
Alt Text Should Be Descriptive
As mentioned above, alt text should describe the image. Since the main purpose of the alt text is to aid those who are unable to view the image, you should not stuff it with keywords. Instead, focus on using your alt text to describe exactly what your image is. If there is text on the image – as there often is on a Pinnable image, you can include that.
Alt Text Should Be Brief
Alt text should be no longer than 125 characters, as many screen readers (for the visually impaired) cut off at 125 characters. If you are putting Pinterest descriptions in alt text, they likely are too long.
Alt Text Should Incorporate Keywords
If possible, your alt text should incorporate keywords. However, the main purpose of alt text is to describe the photo. Therefore if you can’t naturally incorporate keywords, leave them out.
The above image illustrates how the alt text looks “behind the scenes.” It reads: “Doritos Tortilla Chips, Nacho Cheese, 1.75-Ounce Large Single Serve Bags (Pack of 64)”.
If I were to tell you to close your eyes while I read that description to you would you visualize something along those lines? Most likely, yes! This is a perfect example of what you want your alt text to look like for SEO purposes.
The following code shows you where your alt text can be found within your <img> tag:
<img src=”chocolate-cake.jpg” alt=”Chocolate cake with vanilla icing”>
Why You Should Stop Using Alt Tags For Pinterest Pin Descriptions
Many people use the alt text space to put their Pinterest descriptions, as that’s where Pinterest gets the description when someone Pins from your site. Knowing the purpose of the alt text and its impact on SEO, we can understand why this is bad practice from an SEO and website usability standpoint!
Take this blog post for example. Let’s say I uploaded a stock photo of a girl working on a computer, and wanted to use that image as my Pinnable image. If I put my Pinterest description in the alt text, I’d probably write something like this:
<img src=”alt-text-seo-post.jpg” alt=”Learn why you need to stop using your image’s alt text for your Pinterest Pin descriptions #bloggingtips #bloggingforbeginners #businesstips #pinteresttips #socialmedia #marketing #seo #searchengineoptimization”>
(PS – notice how there are hashtags in there? Yup! You can now use hashtags on Pinterest)!
Now, if your reader can’t view the photo (either because it didn’t load or because they are visually impaired), they will see the alt text instead of the image. Does the alt text above really help them picture what the image should be?
No, unfortunately it doesn’t.
The alt text should be something like this:
<img src=”alt-text-pinterest-seo-post.jpg” alt=“Brunette woman working at a computer in a coffee shop with text overlay – Stop Using Alt Tags for Pinterest Pin Descriptions”>
Much better. However, that is a terrible Pin description! So what’s the solution?
How to Set Your Pinterest Pin Descriptions For The Best PINTEREST SEO
According to Pinterest Pro Kristie Hill, “The way Pinterest works: the official Pinterest buttons use the Pinterest description first. If it’s not there it defaults to the title text, if it’s not there it defaults to the alt text.”
Make Google and Pinterest happy. Instead of placing your Pinterest descriptions in your image’s alt text, place this easy piece of code into your image code!
data-pin-description=”Your Pinterest description here”
Adding this piece of code will tell Pinterest to pull the description from there instead of your alt text, so that you are able to use both the alt text and Pinterest description appropriately and for the greatest SEO advantage in search AND on Pinterest!
In the above example, our final piece of code would look like this:
<img src=”alt-text-seo-post.jpg” alt=“Brunette woman working at a computer in a coffee shop with text overlay – Stop Using Alt Tags for Pinterest Pin Descriptions” data-pin-description=”Learn why you shouldn’t be using your image’s alt text for your Pinterest description #bloggingtips #bloggingforbeginners #businesstips #pinteresttips #socialmedia #marketing #seo #searchengineoptimization”>
If you use a content management system such as WordPress, switch from the text editor to view the code once you have uploaded your image, and make your adjustments from there.
There are also plugins, such as our choice, WPTasty, that make this easier. You’ll just add your Alt text AND your Pinterest text in the Image details box.
Now your content is optimized for Pinterest and Google! This incredibly simple code will help both your website and your Pinterest profile remain optimized!
If you’re looking to increase the number of visitors you get from Pinterest each day (and who isn’t?!), get Tailwind for Pinterest now. I wouldn’t Pin without it!
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Pinterest!
Get more engagement with SmartSchedule.
Save time, stay active easily with the browser extension and mobile app.
Find great content to Pin, collaborate efficiently with Tailwind Tribes.
Pin smarter with Pin, board, and profile performance reporting.
Automatically reshare your best Pins with SmartLoop.
Are you going to start using the data-pin-description code? Let us know in the comments below!
Dana is a self-taught graphic and web designer who now lives in a small town in Denmark and works with clients from all over the world. She helps clients define their brand in order to attract and retain their ideal customers and also teaches businesses how to grow their presence through online marketing and SEO.