In this article we’ll be answering all of your questions about ALT text!

Firstly, let’s take a look at “what is alt-text?”

What Is Alt-Text

Some people call alt-text, alternative text, alt descriptions, or alt tags, but no matter what you call it, alt-text is a short description of what is in an image or what the image shows. Its original purpose was to support the visually impaired by giving them a description of the image if it wouldn’t show. Nowadays, this function of alt-text isn’t as common, but hovering over an image will display its alt-text on some websites.

Today, alt-text is used when an image can not be served on a webpage and describes the missing image. There are many reasons why an image may not load. Having alt-text ensures that even if it doesn’t, your website visitors will still know the context of the missing image.

Why Is alt-text important?

Utilizing alt-text can also boost your website’s technical SEO as Google uses alt-text as a ranking factor. Using alt-text can improve your search engine rankings for matching keywords and allow your images to appear in image search results.

Alt-text is especially important for images that Google doesn’t have an extensive catalog of similar images to compare them to. An example of an image where using alt-text can almost guarantee a place in image search results would be a company logo.

When deciding what keywords an image should appear for, alt-text is the first check that search engines will do. If you want your image to appear in Google Images for a specific search query,  giving it matching alt-text will greatly increase its chances of appearing.

Examples of alt-text

example of alt text being used on wordpress

Here is an image of a door frame. If you are optimizing a page with this image for the term “renovation,” an example of good alt-text would be “Doorframe for a home during the renovation process”.

On the flip side, an example of poor alt-text would be “doorframe”.

Another example of good alt-text on a photo of a person creating a Google Ads campaign while in Hamilton would be “google ads in Hamilton

Both search engines and users value descriptive alt-text, this helps every image on your website to appear on Google Images. You can also use descriptive alt-text to increase your page’s position in search results. Be careful not to “keyword stuff” your alt-text, otherwise you may get punished for trying to fool the algorithm.

How do I write good alt text?

Keep it fairly short and make it descriptive. Use the appropriate words to describe your image. Alt text mainly is designed to help users understand pictures without having to see it. The alt text should not be more than 100 characters long and is recommended.

Optimal alt text format

The most suitable alternative text format should descriptive but not cluttered with keywords. Someone should be able to read the alt text in sequential order.

The optimal formatting for ALT text:

  • Identify the medium (Photo, Illustration)
  • Tell us what is in the photo
  • Be descriptive
Illustration – Stack of Blueberry Pancakes in a kitchen

Examples

  • Bad: “Pancakes”
  • Good: “Blueberry Pancakes”
  • Better: “Stack of Blueberry Pancakes in a kitchen”
  • Best: “Illustration – Stack of Blueberry Pancakes in a kitchen”

Tell me the difference between alt text and title text?

Image title text is an attribute used to provide additional information about the image. That being said, the image title is not used for search ranking, so it is not quite as important to optimize for.

How Alt Text affects SEO?

brightlocal local search audit showing the number of alt text on a wesbite

Google states that alt texts is used in combination with machine learning to understand image subject matter. Alt text also aims towards enhancing the visibility of a website’s photos, which may increase search engine results.

How to get your photos on Google Images Using Alt-Text

Have you ever wondered how to get your photos to appear on Google Images?

The secret to getting your images to appear on Google Images is to use alt-text when uploading them online. This is the most sure-fire way to get your images indexed by Google to begin ranking for specific keywords. Google and other image search engines will check the alt-text behind your images to get a general idea of what is in the image. Not using alt-text can negatively impact your website’s SEO and reduce the chances of your image appearing on Google Images.

search for digital marketing on google images

Important Do’s of Using alt-text

Image alt-text needs to be specific and descriptive. When your image focuses on something with a high search volume, your alt-text needs to be specific to the focus of the image. This is due to other websites using similar alt-text on their images to compete for a higher position in Google Image search results.

When writing descriptive alt-text, use keywords that you want the image search results to appear in. More importantly, use keywords that align with the focus keywords of the page the image is on.

If your image has text, mention that text in the alt-text.

Important Don’ts of Using alt-text

There are a few common mistakes people make when using alt-text. The first is being overly descriptive. While descriptive alt-text is good, being too descriptive can negatively affect your image’s visibility for broad keyword searches.

Another mistake people make when using alt-text is starting their alt-text with  “image of” or “a picture of”. This wastes characters that you could use to describe the image.

A third thing to avoid when writing alt-text is not using the right / descriptive keywords. For example, if you are writing an article about dental implants, use the words “dental implants” in your image alt-text.

Related: How to do keyword research

Image formats that support alt-text

If you can add alt-text to images on your website, you should. Even if your images are saved as PNG, JPEG, WEBP, or AVIF, alt-text should always be used.

SEO minion showing metrics on a page

Other Ranking Factors for Google Image Search Result

Google also looks at the name of the image file itself when deciding where it should place in its image search results. An image appropriately named to match a search term is more likely to appear before an image with an unoptimized file name.

Another critical thing to remember when you want your image to appear on Google Images is the website you upload your image to. Images uploaded to websites with a high domain authority have a higher chance of being in the top Google Image search results.

Remember to follow the Google Image best practices here!

These are just some of the ranking factors you should know about when you want your images to appear on Google Images. To learn more about SEO and other ways to get your photos on Google Images, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog.

Originally published . Last updated .

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