Uploading images without considering alt text impacts negatively on the website’s SEO. This is because search engines like Google and Bing cannot understand visual images unless an alt text is attached to them. Alt text, therefore, are vital for the successful optimization of page content for search engines and provides visitors with the best possible results when they are searching online.
Let’s understand further how image alt text is vital for your website and plays an essential role in SEO.

What is an Image Alt Text

Alternative(alt) text is also known as an alt attribute or alt description, or more commonly as alt tags. It is an HTML attribute written for an image, that is a precise and concrete description of that image used on a webpage. Screen reader tools read out alt text assigned to an image, which helps blind or visually impaired people figure out what the image portrays. Thus, it provides better accessibility to visually-impaired people and improves their internet browsing experience for them. Generally, alt text is not visible on a page but is revealed in place of an image that fails to load.

Importance of an Alt Text for an Image

Alt text is very important for an image, it describes the content of an image and improves accessibility for visually disabled visitors. Including alt text with your images ensures all users, with or without any disability, easy access to your website images.

Apart from accessibility, the major importance of image alt text is ranking your image in response to a search, i.e, SEO(search engine optimization). As search engine crawlers cannot cognitively understand visual images, they take help from alt text to understand the context of the image which allows them to index an image correctly in response to a search. Alt text also works as a ranking factor, allowing you to add target keywords with your images and improve your website’s ranking. Therefore, the importance of alt text is in improving the user experience for a website as well as works as a search engine ranking factor.

How to add alt text

You should add alt attributes, it not only improves the visibility of your page but also provides an excellent user experience. The alt attribute is added to the HTML part of the code that supports your page.

The alt text looks like this: <img src = “myimage.jpg” alt = “This is an image”>

With no alt text, like this: <img src = “myimage.jpg” alt = “”>

Description with keywords is necessary to use in the value of the attribute, it not only tells the engine about the image but also makes your image rank higher on the search engine’s page.

Alt Text Examples – Good alt text vs Bad alt text

Let’s look at some alt text examples:

Image 1: Monarch Butterfly

monarch butterfly image alt text

Good: <img src = “butterfly.png” alt = “monarch butterfly”>

Better: <img src = “butterfly.png” alt = “monarch butterfly flower”>

Best: <img src = “butterfly.png” alt = “monarch butterfly feeding on a purple flower”>

Bad: <img src = “butterfly.png” alt = “butterfly butterfly feeding purple purple flower”>

Keyword stuffing should be avoided, as in the above example.

Bad: <img src = “butterfly.png” alt = “ ”>

Image 2: Man Walking Down Escalator

man walking down escalator image alt text

Good:  <img src = “image.png” alt = “man on escalator”>

Better: <img src = “image.png” alt = “man walking on escalator”>

Best:   <img src = “image.png” alt = “man wearing backpack walking down escalator”>

Bad:    <img src = “image.png” alt = “a man backpack black with backpack walking down escalator white shirt shoes mall”> 

Keyword stuffing should be avoided, as in the above example.

Bad:   <img src = “image.png” alt = “”>

How to boost your Image SEO?

Alt text offers an opportunity to integrate the focus keyword in a meaningful and relevant way that improves the visibility of a website on the search engine.

Here are some points to consider while writing alt text:

  • Describe and be Specific: Since alt text is displayed when an image fails to load, so it needs to be a precise description of the image. Moreover, screen reader tools read aloud alt text to visually disabled people so it needs to be specific.
  • Provide relatable context and keep it short:  Most screen readers can read up to 125 characters in alt text so keep it short. Add context that relates to the content of the page. The priority should be describing and providing a context of the image, if it makes sense, then include your target keywords in the alt text of the image. This will signal to search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular topic, making it rank higher.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing: Google ignores alt texts with stuffed keywords. Stuffing alt text with keywords is generally bad practice and should be avoided.
  • Don’t include an image of, picture of, e.t.c to the alt text.
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Adding alt text to your images is very essential as it ensures that your website is search engine optimized. It is also important for better accessibility of your website to the general audience. Making a standard practice to set an alt attribute for your images will help you get ahead of competitors in search engine rankings. Therefore, putting in the time to generate good alt text will be beneficial for you as well as search engine crawlers.

Reference: Semrush

  Google Images SEO Best Practices

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash