You can look at a picture of a baby playing with cheerios and know exactly what it is, but what if you wanted Google and other search engines to know what was being displayed? Alt text is the solution to your problem. ALT text, or alt tag, is a description of your image. For internet users with visual impairments or have web images turned off. Alt text provides the website reader with a text equivalent description of the image. ALT texts allow search engines to crawl not only your articles but also your images for content and keywords, like a 2-for-1 opportunity for your web pages.
Working in marketing, you can’t go 10 minutes without hearing someone say “SEO” in some form or fashion. Alt-text is not just an extra way to describe the image inside your site, but it’s also another way to stick out for search engine crawlers. You’re assuming the risk of search engines crawling your picture and missing the true description, or any description of your picture, without using alt texts. There is the chance for your image to rank for the wrong keywords or none at all.
Analysis tools, such as Yoast SEO offers a feature that specifically crawls your landing page to alert you if your images possess an alt text that contains your established focus keyword. You will see the orange circle & the message below when your images do not contain a relevant alt text.
It goes farther than just for your website, but also social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, are offering the ability to add alt tags topics used in your posts. For now, many Instagram pictures aren’t appearing in the search results because of privacy concerns but I expect that roadblock to be surpassed in the next few years. As for the other platforms, this is a big step forward as it now enables searchable images from the captions, but also with the alt texts.
Alt text not only has its SEO benefits, but it helps those who can’t see your image, see it through descriptive text. Screen readers are used by blind or visually impaired visitors to read out the description of your image to those visitors. This offers them the opportunity to receive an understanding of what your picture is without being able to physically see it.
How To Write A Good Text
What is in the text? How many characters do I have? Should I put a link in there? These questions and more are ones you’re going to run into when creating alt text for your images. Below are a few rules to abide by during your process:
- Keep it short and sweet. Most screen readers have a max of 125 available characters to use, so it’s best to keep the text under that character count.
- Don’t write “image/picture/photo of…”. Search engines already know that you’re describing an image, so it’s adding an unnecessary step.
- Don’t include a link. Links are not crawlable by search engines, and your image will be wrongly indexed.
- Be as descriptive as possible. Your text is there to provide descriptions for search engines and screen readers. You assume the risk of unintelligible descriptions and incorrectly indexing them if you leave any area for search engine mistakes to inaccurately crawl your images.
- Use your keywords. While you’re trying to be descriptive about the image, don’t forget about your keywords you’re trying to rank for. Your focus keywords/topic should always be in the back of your mind when writing your description.
- Don’t cram every keyword into each picture. If you have multiple images in your article, spread your keywords out amongst all the pics.
Now its time to check if your old images have alt texts attributed to them. You could see an increase in website traffic on those landing pages from simply adding alt texts. Now you can add alt texts into your SEO editorial checklist for all of the content you produce. Turn that orange circle green and your writing is good to go!