Tailwind Blog

Why You Should Stop Using Alt Tags For Pinterest Pin Descriptions

Published by
Dana Nicole

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.

After all, that is where the javascript for Pinterest gets the description when someone Pins from your site!

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.

Optimize your images to appear in Google image search results.

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.

Source: https://moz.com/learn/seo/alt-text

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 tag:

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:

(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:

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:

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.

Pinterest descriptions made easy with the WPTasty plugin. We just started using it and we love it!


In Conclusion:

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!

Create. Schedule. Publish. All in One Place.
Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Pinterest!

  • Make beautiful Pins faster than ever before with Tailwind Create
  • Get more engagement with SmartSchedule.
  • Collaborate, share and grow with Tailwind Communities
  • Automatically reshare your best Pins at safe intervals with SmartLoop.

Are you going to start using the data-pin-description code? Let us know in the comments below!

Pin me:

Dana Nicole

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.

View Comments

  • This was very useful. Do you recommend doing this to all the images in the post or just the ones intended to be pins?

  • This is great advice! At the moment, I do write the alt description for search engines, but with Pinterest pulling the alt description as the pin caption, I was thinking about optimizing it more for Pinterest as well. Thank you for advising against this and for providing the easy image HTML specific for Pinterest!

    Marriah Tarango

    • You're welcome! I'm grateful for this guest post as I've been writing my Pin descriptions in the alt text field all this time!

  • This is a very interesting article about why we should do this, but you don't explain how to do it. I am looking all over my pin trying to figure out where I would add this alt text. I need some basic instructions on how to find the computer programming code. You did show the line of code to look for once I get there, but I can't figure out how to get there. I will keep trying.

    • Hi Laura, I'm sorry you are frustrated. You'd need to switch to text or code edit mode and make the changes on your blog. The code is in the post, but if you are not comfortable with that, and you are on WordPress, you can use the WPTasty plugin. Hope that helps.

  • Hi, I'm using Social Warfare on my website https://get-rid-of-pests.info. I have Pinterest Description and at the same time I'm adding image title and alt from WP-admin.
    Can you advice me what to do now: to continue like that , or to switch to WPTasty plugin.
    Thank you

    • It will set the Pinterest description for you, but only for the Pinterest image you add to the Social Warfare section of your post. For images inside the post, it does not. So you would need to use the plugin or edit your code if you want to implement this tactic.

    • Hi Kimberly, I haven't used Shopify myself, so I'm not sure how much flexibility you have. Probably worth bringing up in a forum.

  • For those of us on Squarespace, can you share where we should be placing the date-pin-description? I want to be sure I’m optimizing as I should because we’ve always been told to place it in the alt description.

    • Hi Brenda. I'm not a Squarespace pro, so I'm not sure what options you have available. Maybe ask on the forum?

  • Just tried it and it only works with SOME Pinterest plug ins but not all, so no, I won't be using it. My main plug is is JQuery Pin it for Pinterest and that one still pulls in the alt tag even with the code inserted.

  • Do you know if Social Warfare's Pinterest description field accomplishes the same thing as what you're describing here?


    • It will, but only for the Pinterest image you add to the Social Warfare section of your post. For images inside the post, it does not.

  • AS someone who's designed forms in the past to make them accessible, before using alt text for Pinterest I always added the true description of the image in the alt text, up until last year to help improve my Pinterest strategy and based on many Pinterest gurus. Shifting to this new methodology gives us the best of both worlds but that's just yet another added step. It seems that anytime you've figured something be it with Pinterest, IG or FB, Google or the one of the social media's algorithm will come raining hail on you...thanks for the update, I will be sure to incorporate into future posts. Should I be going back into old posts and adjusting?

  • This is so good to know since I've always been putting my descriptions into the alt. text. Thanks for sharing this! I'm now going to be looking for a plug-in to place my descriptions into the "Pinterest text".

Published by
Dana Nicole

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