alt text seo

Alt text or alternative text is a commonly neglected but great tool to enhance your SEO strategy and help your page rank better. Its primary purpose is to describe the image for people who are unable to view it. It can be a great way to optimize your content and rank not just on web search but also make its way to rank for images in the image search.

Before we learn how to use Alt text for SEO, we must understand why it is so essential.

What is Alt Text?

Alternative text or alt text for short is the easiest way to describe your images present in your content. The primary reason it is used is to express your image for visually impaired users. This allows the material to become more user friendly and opens possibilities for audiences with disabilities. For SEO, it can help Google understand your images and what they contain so they can rank better and more accurately according to the searches.

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Why is Alt Text important?

Provides greater access

Alt text has many major benefits to both the user and the webpage owner. The first is that it reaches a much larger audience. Other than visually impaired people who depend upon these alt texts to get the essence of the image, many people also have blockers on their browsers. They could be doing it to save data or if the internet is slow and the image cant be loaded. In that case, instead of missing out completely on the content, they get a snippet through the alternative description of the image.

So, your content won’t be limited by the speed of their connection or the ability to see it. It would have a further reach all around the world and be accessible to virtually anyone who wishes to view it.

For Image SEO

Google uses web crawlers to rank its pages. These crawlers can read the text very clearly and determine its relevancy to a topic. However, when it comes to images, web crawlers cannot read it. Well then you might be wondering, it can still read the text around it and rank my content accordingly? That’s is what it does, but the competition is ever-growing, so how can you expect to rank number 1 when your competitors have got an advantage?

Another way that alt text can help your SEO is because it allows you another opportunity to rank for your keywords. You can nestle your keyword into your image which gets you one step ahead to rank for your targetted keyword.

Insert links

One way to use the images is as an anchor to insert your links to other webpages. Now, you may ask, what is anchor text? It’s simply the text that holds that clickable link. It allows google to understand more about what your page is about. The more Google understands about your page and what it contains, the better it can be ranked.

How to write Alt Text?

Once you are aware of the importance of alt text, we can learn how you should write it. Certain rules should be followed to make the alt text as precise and optimized as possible.

  • Keep it short and sweet. Most screen readers cut off the alt text at approximately 125 characters. You dont want to have an incomplete image description so try and hit the 125 character mark.
  • Use your keywords. Your priority should always be to describe the image as accurately and specifically as possible. However, if the image calls for it, you can add your keyword if it is relevant. The best practice would be to include the keyword in at least one of the images on the page.
  • Avoid using text in your images. The web crawlers cant read and optimize the text that in the picture itself so it can get difficult to figure out what it is. The alternative is using text beside or next to the image itself, which can be read easily by search engines.
  • There is no need to start your alt description from phrases such as “ An image of..” or “ A picture …..”. It is already fairly obvious that the text is of an image, so save your characters and begin the description directly.
  • Dont leave out any buttons. Often, people use images for the clickable buttons on their site. Buttons like “search” and “submit” are often images that need to have alt text, so people know what button they are.
  • Describe the image as specifically as you can. You dont want the text to have too many or too little details. The text should include everything important to the image but can leave any extra non-essential descriptions.
image alternate text image

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Do all images require alt text?

When adding alt text, you might get overwhelmed by the number of images and thus alt text that needs to be written. In reality, that is not true; you should only focus on writing alt text for images that hold importance or add value to the content. If your content contains some brand logos or decorative images that aren’t necessary to convey your message across, you can leave them out. Instead of leaving it blank, you should write an empty alt text. In this manner, the screen reader will not be reading the file name of the image and just skip over it entirely.

Examples of good Alt text

In an alt text for an image, you want to be sure that you are getting the clearest message across. E.g., if you have the picture of a cat: a good way to write the alt text for the cat would be by adding the breed and colour instead of just saying cat. This creates a more clear picture of the cat in the reader’s mind.

Similarly, if you have a picture of a person, describe the person and their actions but dont waste characters describing the person’s features and characteristics unless they are relevant to the topic.