How to write alt text for images for SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy, so if you want to boost it as much as possible learning how to write alt text for images for SEO is key. Despite the importance alt text is often ignored, even thought it is an easy way to improve your SEO and climb up the rankings.

What is alt text?How to write alt text for images for SEO

Alt text is shorthand for alternative text but is also known as the alt description or alt attributes. It is used within HTML code to describe the images on the page and is great for improving accessibility for visually impaired people. For example, if you had an image of a banana, your alt text could read something like ‘unpeeled banana on blue background’.

When describing an image, the alt text should be descriptive and filled with keywords, not spammy or stuffed with them. If you were trying to rank for fitness equipment and used a picture of a person on a running machine, a good alt text description could read something like ‘woman on running machine’.

For visually impaired people who may be using a screen reader while browsing, the alt text describes what the image shows. Without it, screen readers will just read out long image names, which can be unhelpful for the content on the page. However, if the image is just filler, you can also leave it blank, so the screen reader skips over it – but you could be losing out on a valuable SEO strategy.

A common misconception is that you have to add alt text to every image on your website, but this is not the case. Images such as icons have no purpose to those using screen readers and won’t add much more SEO value to your page. Instead, focus on just the main images that relate to your content.

Including alt text for your image can also create a better user experience for everyone who visits your site. For example, someone with a slow internet connection might not be able to see the image but instead will see the alt text where the image should be.

Alt text and SEO

In addition to improving accessibility, alt text can have a big impact on your SEO. Google ranks pages using search crawlers, which scan the page for keywords and content before determining the ranking. However, they can’t ‘see’ the images used on websites, so they might not pick up if they are relevant to the page.

Therefore, optimising the alt text gives them a helping hand. Alt text provides another way to include your target keywords on your page, bumping your page rankings higher than without them. Google values alt text highly – in fact, their Image Publishing guidelines specifically explain how they use alt text to establish the relevance of images.

In some cases, you may want to use an image as a link. By including alt text, you help Google understand more about the page you are linking to, providing another dimension to your SEO strategy.

Alt text can also drive image traffic to your website. People searching for specific images will be able to find your website easier, which can result in more hits than just optimising via copy.

How to write alt text for images for SEO

Alt text serves two big purposes: improving accessibility and improving SEO. Don’t neglect it when it comes to your pages, and ensure that the alt text provides value for each of your images. When creating good alt text, keep these tips in mind:

Be specific: if you have a picture of a cake on your website, don’t just describe it as ‘cake’. What kind of cake is it? Does it have a certain number of tiers? Is it a wedding cake or a birthday cake? Ensure your description provides value with every word – avoid using ‘image of’ in the alt text, as Google and those using screen readers will already know it is an image. Be as specific as possible while still including your focus keywords.

Don’t stuff your keywords: keyword stuffing can come with heavy penalties from Google, so avoid it when writing alt text! It won’t read well to those using screen readers, so just like in SEO-optimised copy, try to keep your keywords as natural as possible.

Keep it short: avoid writing lines for your alt text – keep it relatively short at around 125 characters. This can help keep your alt text specific and only include the keywords you can fit in naturally

How to add alt text to images 

Adding alt text to images on your website is simple. Many websites have a field that allows you to enter it when uploading an image – for example, on WordPress sites, you can fill out fields for the alt text, title, caption and image description in one place.

You can also embed alt text in the HTML code for an image by adding an alt tag. This is what an image with an alt text tag should look like in HTML:

<img src=“egg.jpg” alt=“six eggs in a carton”>

Alt text is an often overlooked strategy within SEO. Don’t neglect it – you could be missing out on traffic to your website! Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need assistance building your SEO strategy.

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