Written by Daniel Errante
Does alt text help SEO?
What Is Alt Text?
Alt text, short for alternative text, is a descriptive text used to provide information about images. It is important for accessibility as it helps visually impaired users understand the content and for SEO as it improves the visibility of images in search engines.
Why Does Alt Text Matter?
Alt text is crucial as it ensures equal access to information regardless of one’s physical condition. For SEO, well-crafted alt text can enhance a page’s ranking on search engines, making your content more discoverable.
Why Is Alt Text Important?
Alt text is significant because it bridges the accessibility gap, enabling visually impaired users to perceive the content in images. Moreover, from an SEO perspective, it improves image indexing, which helps in enhancing the overall visibility of your web content on search engines.
How to Write Alt Text (Best Practices)
Writing effective alt text requires focus on the context and relevance of the image. Here are some best practices:
Be precise: Clearly describe the information conveyed by the image.
Keep it brief: Limit your alt text to 125 characters.
Avoid keyword stuffing: Overuse of keywords can lead to penalties from search engines.
Don’t start with ‘image of’ or ‘picture of’: It’s already assumed the alt text refers to an image.
1. Add Alt Text to the Right Kinds of Images
To optimize alt text, it is important to add it to the right kinds of images. Include alt text for images that convey critical information, or contribute to the content’s narrative or understanding. Avoid using alt text for decorative items, as it adds no value and may distract users. For complex images, consider using supplementary text or a caption to provide a more comprehensive description.
2. Be Descriptive Yet Concise
Write an alt text that accurately describes the image but remains concise. Remember, the goal isn’t to describe the image in intricate detail, but to succinctly convey its concept.
Use Relevant Keywords
To optimize SEO, include relevant keywords in the alt text, but be cautious to avoid overstuffing. Ensure that the keywords make sense in the context of the image.
Reflect the Content Context
Provide an alt text that complements the content on your page. If the image contributes to your content, the alt text should reflect this relationship.
3. Include a Keyword
Including a keyword in your alt text can help improve your page’s search engine ranking. This keyword should be directly related to the topic of your image and content. However, do not force keywords, as it could lead to penalties. Instead, keep it natural and user-friendly.
Alt Text Examples
To help you grasp the concept of writing alt text, here are few examples:
Instead of “dog”, a better alt text would be “golden retriever playing fetch in a park.”
Rather than just “cake,” strive for “Three-layer vanilla cake with blueberry topping.”
Don’t simply state “car”, go for “Red Ferrari parked at the marina.”
Remember, the goal is to describe the image meaningfully, keeping relevance intact.
Example 1: NASA
NASA’s website does a commendable job of using alt text. For an image of a galaxy, instead of a vague descriptor like “space,” they utilize meaningful alt text, “Image of spiral galaxy NGC 1232 captured by Hubble Space Telescope.” This clarifies the image’s context and contributes to SEO efforts.
Example 2: Bureau of Internet Accessibility
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility excels at implementing alt text. Instead of a generic term like “chart”, they use a specific description like “Bar graph showing the percentage of websites with accessibility issues”. This enhances user experience and boosts SEO value.
Example 3: The Guardian
The Guardian’s website also practices effective use of alt text. For an image showcasing an event, instead of writing “people,” they use a detailed description: “Crowd gathered at the Glastonbury Festival.” This not only aids visually impaired readers but also optimizes the image for search engines.
How to Find & Fix Missing Alt Text
Missing alt text can hinder the accessibility and SEO of your site. To find and fix this:
Use web accessibility evaluation tools like WAVE and AChecker, which identify images without alt text.
After pinpointing missing alt text, add relevant, concise descriptions.
Review SEO plugins like Yoast, which can highlight and help fix alt text issues.
Remember to keep alt texts descriptive and accurate to enhance overall site performance.
How do I generate alt text automatically?
While some programs can auto-generate alt text, manual insertion is recommended for accuracy. Tools like Google Photos and Word do offer auto alt text, but remember it’s essential to ensure the descriptions accurately portray the images for accessibility and SEO purposes.
What tool creates alt text for images?
Several tools can help generate alt text for images, including SEO plugins, such as Yoast, and web accessibility evaluation tools like WAVE and AChecker. However, manual creation of alt text is generally more accurate and contextually relevant. Always review and modify auto-generated alt text as necessary.
What is a good alt text?
A good alt text should be concise yet descriptive, providing an accurate understanding of the image content. It should reflect the context of the image, use relevant keywords without stuffing, and enhance both accessibility and SEO. For instance, instead of writing “dog,” a good alt text would be “golden retriever playing fetch in the park.”
How do you convert an image to alt text?
To convert an image to alt text, follow these steps:
Analyze the image and understand the information it conveys.
Craft a brief yet descriptive sentence that encapsulates the critical details of the image.
Include the alt text in the “alt” attribute inside the image tag in the HTML source code. For example,
<img src=”dog.jpg” alt=”Golden retriever playing fetch in the park.”>.
Remember to keep the alt text relevant and avoid keyword stuffing.
What are some alt text examples?
Alt text examples demonstrate how to create meaningful and descriptive captions for images. Here are some instances:
Instead of “cat”, use “A Siamese cat sleeping on a red cushion”.
Rather than “food”, write “Sushi platter with salmon, tuna, and avocado rolls”.
Instead of “landscape”, provide “Snow-covered mountains under a bright blue sky”.
These examples reflect the importance of crafting specific, accurate alt text.
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