How to Automatically Create Descriptive “alt” Text for Your WordPress Images, Using AI

How to automatically create descriptive “alt” text for your images, using AI. For better accessibility and SEO.

Images alts help both the visually impaired and bots, such as Googlebot, to better understand the content on the page. In other words, alts help both accessibility and SEO. These are two worthwhile and important goals, but still, most of us skip the task of composing descriptive alts. It isn’t without a good excuse – it is a tedious task. Luckily we can use some real AI to create descriptive alts for us, and for free! (to some extent). Truly science-fiction.

A plugin called ClassifAI offers to:

“Enhance Your WordPress Content with AI and Machine Learning Services.”

And it does! It utilizes Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision service, for image processing and IBM Watson (the computer that beat two of the most successful contestants on Jeopardy!) for language processing. I haven’t gotten around to test and understand the language processing benefits yet. But the image processing part works great and does exactly what it suppose to do – brilliant! You can set the plugin to automatically create alt when uploading a new image.

The plugin isn’t listed in the WordPress repository, which makes it a true hidden gem. Its webpage looks pretty solid and professional. So is the site of the company that created the plugin, which is called 10up. The plugin was recently updated. These are good signs. Hopefully, it will stick around longer than the Automatic Alternative Text plugin, which seems not to be maintained anymore. The ClassifAI plugin itself is free. Microsoft Azure’s Computer Vision API has a free plan of 20 transactions per minute, and a total of 5,000 free transactions per month, which should be enough for many cases. There is a simple setup process that the plugin’s README file walks you through.

For wrapping things up, and admiring the powers we are able to harness to our WordPress sites for free, watch what could IBM Watson do back in 2013:

Watson and the Jeopardy! Challenge

Conclusion

There is now a seemingly solid way to tackle a task that I personally hoped to be able to tackle for long – automatically creating descriptive “alt” text for images.

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