Alt Tags and How They Impact SEO

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Alt tags are an important process in your maintaining your site. While it can be a time-consuming process, it also serves a great purpose.

An “alt tag,” “alt attribute,” “alt description,” or “alt text” is an HTML attribute that applies to image tags providing a text alternative for search engines, such as Google. Creating alt tags to your images on your website, such as product photos, can positively impact an E-commerce store’s search engine rankings. Also, this helps the visually impaired know what images are on the screen.

Search engines cannot interpret images, but images play an important part in how people interpret a particular web page. Alt tags provide text that search engines read. When search engine crawlers, such as Googlebot, crawl a page, images with correctly formatted alt text contribute to where the page ranks on Google.

Image Alt Tag Best Practices

Image Alt tags need to be specific and representative of the webpage it’s supporting. The text should be short to maximize impact. Shorter alt tags have a better likelihood of being indexed by Google and other search engines effectively. You should also mention the topic within the alt text. 

One thing to avoid doing is refrain from keyword stuffing. Although you can mention your keyword for the image you are creating an alt tag for, you don’t want to overuse the keyword. That can result in poor user experience for people with visual impairment if search engine bots can’t read the alt text correctly.

While alt tags are important for SEO practices, don’t prioritize alt tags over other SEO deliverables, such as titles, inter-linking, and meta descriptions. Instead, alt tags should be a priority for an image-heavy page that is light on text. But, when you can, you should create alt text for all the images on your site, including a banner image, block images, and background images.

When creating your alt text, you want to create a detailed description of the image and be specific. You should also add context that relates to the topic of the page. For example, if the image you describe doesn’t feature a recognizable place or person, adding context from your page’s content is a great way to describe the image.

You should also keep your alt text to fewer than 125 characters because screen-reading tools generally stop reading alt text at this point. For example, you can free up words by not starting the alt text with “picture of…” or “image of…” Screen-reading tools recognize when they are reading an image, which will let you jump right into the image’s description. 

When creating the alt text, you should also review for spelling errors. Misspelled words in alt text for images can hurt the user experience and confuse search engines crawling your site. Always review alt text normally like you would any other content on the page. 

Image Alt Tag and Image SEO

Creating images with alt text can help search engines, like Google, better understand the subject matter of the page they are crawling and the images on the page. 

Alt text also helps increase the chances of your images appearing in image search results, driving traffic to your site when someone clicks on the image. 

Google uses alt tags to determine what is on the image and how it relates to the surrounding text. That is why making sure that the alt text you create is relevant to the webpage as a whole. 

While alt text is good for SEO (search engine optimization), you should always create the alt text with the user in mind. Do not focus purely on satisfying search engine crawlers. The text should always be relevant to the images. Each image should have its own alt tag. 

Alt Tag Reminders to Always Remember

When creating the alt tags, always remember that you are aiming to make your website more accessible. If alt tags are done poorly, they can negatively impact how your website and subsequent pages rank in Google and drive you further down the list. 

When you brainstorm how to create effective alt tags, ask yourself this: how would you briefly describe the image over the phone?

So keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and to the point.
  • Don’t keyword stuff.
  • Create the tags for the physical user, not a search engine robot. 

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