Alt-text: What is it and how does it impact SEO?

27th October 2021 | | Blog, Search Engine Optimisation

Currently 33% of Google SERP show images – and with Google regularly updating its algorithm to improve search results, it’s likely to increase! That means, despite your best SEO efforts, you could still be missing out on another source of organic traffic – your website images. One of the best ways to optimise the images on your site is through alt text

Alt-text (also known as alt tags or alt descriptions) is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage or an image that fails to load on a user’s screen. It is also used to help screen-readers tool describe images to visually impaired readers and provides better images context to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly. 

Alt-text is one of the best practices used by SEO managers to optimise images for the web as well as creating a better user experience for all types of visitors. 

Within HTLM code, alt text appears as the following: 

<img src=”image.webp” alt=”description of what is happening in the image”>

 

 Why is Alt-text Important? 

According to Google, alt text is used (along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page) to understand the subject matter of images. Though image recognition technology has vastly improved over the years, alt text provides web crawlers with more context. 

Google may see the following image and recognise the Eiffel Tower.

effiel tower replica in las vegas, nevada

Added relevant alt text such as “Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas, USA”, the image could be ranking for “las vegas attractions“ or “eiffel tower replica”. Leaving Google alone to decipher an image could lead to rankings for unintended keywords or missing out on rankings altogether. 

Therefore, alt text helps Google to better understand what the images on a webpage are about and give more insight into what the webpage as a whole is about. This can help increase the chances of your images appearing in search results and boost your ranking for targeted keywords. 

But not only does alt text helps Google better understand your website content but it also provides a better user experience. When a browser can’t load an image, it displays the alt text in the image container instead. For those with visual or cognitive disabilities, alt text is read allowed but screen readers. Thus allowing all users to glean what images are meant to convey.

 

How to Write Good Alt-text That Works

Alt text gives the opportunity to enrich images and content on your website, offers a good user experience and also allows you to integrate targeted keywords in a relevant way. However, stuffing too many keywords within the alt text can have a negative effect. When writing alt text we recommend:

  1. Describe the image as objectively as possible
  2. Provide context to the image so search engines can accurately index it
  3. Avoid phrases like “image of”/”picture of” – get straight into the nitty-gritty
  4. Use relevant keywords but avoid keyword stuffing

Example of Good and Bad Alt text:

a plate of green pesto pasta with basil and nuts

Bad:

  • <img src=”pasta.png” alt=”pasta”>

Good:

  • <img src=”pasta.png” alt=”A plate of pasta in a green pesto sauce, with nuts and basil”>

This alt text gives Google a little more context about what is happening in the image. Therefore it learns to show this image for searches such as “green pesto pasta” but not “pasta recipes without nuts”.

 

As Google updates its algorithms to improve search results for users, alt text will become a more important factor. To carry out a site audit of your website images and see how your image SEO is performing, get in touch with our team today.

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