The best articles when you are blogging, creating articles for publication, or just want your website to look better than your competitor’s, you need to use images. The way to put images on your websites is to use the alt image tags, also known as alt image text.
Using alt tag SEO is one way to optimize your website and let the search engines do their thing when ranking your site. To learn more about how to use alt tag image SEO strategies better, just continue to read our article. It provides the information you want to know about so you can have a better ranking and use your images to greater results.
What Is Alt Text?
In this blogpost
Alt-text is also called alt tags or alt descriptions and all it does is provide a line of text describing the image that is supposed to be placed on your website. When your image fails to appear, this text will be in its place.
One purpose for the alt image is to help the visually impaired computer user use screen reading tools to get an idea of what your image looks like. Plus, it helps search engines crawl better and place a more accurate ranking to your web page or website.
In other words, when you want better visibility, you need to use the alt text strategy in the right way. It also helps provide more value to your web page and more. Alt text or alt tag is all about the image.
Why Won’t Images Load?
This is not always the bad alt tag’s fault. There are other reasons why an image won’t appear and all your reader sees is the alt text in its place. Those reasons include but are not limited to the following:
- The user has a weak Wi-Fi signal or modem
- There is a broken image link in your text
- The size of the image is too large for their system
- A wrong file name was used
- The user is using a screen reader
Having the image appears properly is essential to your website readers as they can understand your content a lot better. Pictures are worth a thousand words and help you make your point more concisely.
4 Reasons Alt Text Is So Important
It is possible to leave the alt text box blank but it is not a very good option to use when you are trying to rank and get readers. The following 4 reasons tell you why filling in that box correctly is essential:
- You are not stuck with a blank spot. The text will appear when the image fails to load.
- The alt text improves accessibility and allows visually impaired users to hear the description of the image. This is an important part of SEO-friendly web designs.
- It is good SEO practice as it helps search engines rank your web page as well as understand what the image has to do with your content.
- When you use your image as a link, the text becomes the anchor text.
One key element to using alt text properly is that you are allowing those search engines to use image algorithms to figure out what your image is all about. The text is a big clue to that identification.
Not to be left out, Google seems to have the ability to rank websites solely based on the alt text used on the web page. This is where you want to naturally use your SEO keywords. But make sure you follow the instructions above so that you do not stuff the alt text with too many keywords.
To help rank your images up high on Google, you should follow the four tips below:
- Use meaningful alt text content
- Make sure the images are on those pages containing relevant content
- Make sure to use high-quality images
- Use good file names that are meaningful
How To Add Alt Tags To Your Web Pages?
Usually, content management systems like Hubspot or WordPress have easy to edit formats. It only takes a few seconds to get to the right editing screen and pop-up window. From there you just add your text in the right spots and click save and you are done.
For Hubspot users, you need to click on the image and then the edit icon to get to the pop-up screen. Once that appears, you add your text in the alt text box, usually at the bottom of the screen, and the text is automatically inserted into your HTML code.
WordPress seems even easier to edit your images. Again you have to click on the image which will open the block tab in a sidebar next to the image. Go down to the box that is labelled alt text and add your text. Click update and you are done.
When you do this updating and editing, make sure you are very specific and very descriptive. However, you have to make sure your alt text describes the context of the image or your image can miss its mark.
3 Ways Your Alt Text Can Miss Its Mark
1. Keywords Are Not Always Good
If you stuff your alt text with too many keywords you are not going to present a very good image. You will miss out on context and have too much useless information. Keywords are important but too many turns search crawlers off.
When you do this, you make it hard for search engines to understand how that image relates to the rest of your content. This lack of understanding can harm your potential ranking when you use long-tail keywords.
Also, in Google’s case, you may incur a penalty which no one wants to receive.
2. Detail Is Not Always Specific Enough
You can have an alt text that says a baseball player swinging at a ball on a baseball field. While that may be detailed and descriptive enough for some people, it is not good enough for search engines to rank well.
While the image does show a baseball player swinging at a baseball there are better specifics that can be used so the search engine understands how the image relates to the article or web page content.
A better alt text would read something like Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants hitting the ball at Candlestick Park.
3. Specificity Is Hampered By A Lack Of Details
There are alt texts and image subjects that provide enough context to be more specific. But not all images are that way. Some are very generic and do not have names of people, place names, and so on.
Instead of saying woman pointing to a computer screen, when you have people using a computer and another person pointing at the monitor you can use context to get more specific.
The alt text could read something like– Computer Teacher Pointing To Her Student’s Computer Screen. You get both context and specificity that search engines like. Or you can go a step further and say– computer teacher uses computer software programs to teach a computer class student.
The alt text needs to be specific, relate to the image’s context in the most detailed manner possible. The more detail you have the better your alt tag for images SEO will be.
You will need to not be lazy when writing your alt text and simply write what everyone sees. Look closer at the image and see if you can pull out more details that help you be more specific and boost your ranking.
Alt Tag Best Practices And Tips
It does take practice to pull the right information out of an image. You have to look for those clues that tip you off to those specifics that make your alt text even better than it was.
When you are writing for alt tag optimization you will want to consider using the following alt tag best practice tips:
- Be Specific & Descriptive– Don’t just write about a generic subject. Pull as much detail out of the image that will provide both specifics and be descriptive. You want to be as specific as possible without overdoing it. To double-check your text finish the sentence, read it, and then try to visualize the image without the aid of the image itself. See if you get a clear picture of what the image is all about.
- Don’t Write A Book– You will want to keep the alt text as short as possible. There is no need to write a long paragraph or a book-length description. Your target length should be between 100 to 125 characters, no more than that. Some screen readers cannot read more than 125 characters
- Avoid Repeating Yourself– There is no need to be redundant nor do you want to include words that are not necessary. Some of those unnecessary words are ‘photo of’ or ‘image of’ and so on. Keep your text proper and not repeating what everyone already knows. Words that are already implied do not need to be included in your text.
- Use Keywords Naturally– It is okay to use keywords, just do not fill your text with them. Make sure to consider your target keywords and how they will fit in with the content of your web page and the image. It becomes easier to be natural when the photo matches the content of the web page
- Use Keywords Correctly– In other words, do not stuff the text with keywords. You may hurt your ranking and SEO strategy if you overstuff the alt text with more keywords than it needs. use them at the right time and at the right amount.
- Avoid Using Images Over Text– The purpose of the text is to help screen readers understand the image. They won’t understand the image if you use an image in place of your text or with text inside the image. text is text and keeps it that way.
- Stick To Your Objective– That objective is to describe an image in the best way possible so that those who cannot see the image can get an understanding of what is in your image. Write your alt tags with real people in mind not just SEO strategies or search engines.
- Avoid Using Quotes– It is possible that additional quotes can cause the HTML function to break. The system already uses its own raw quotes to indicate the start and end of your text.
- Images Act As Buttons– When they do you should have alt text telling what that image’s purpose is. The alt text can be as simple as ‘submit’, ‘search’ or ‘apply now’.
10. Do A Test – To make sure you got everything right in your alt text, test it out. You want to make sure everything works as planned.
The Content For An Alt Tag
As you have just learned, you should be as specific as you can about the image without being too wordy. Unless writing alt text changes in the near future, you do not have any limits on what you can write in the alt tag box.
You are free to use any number of words, any words you want, and so on. But when you use those words, make sure they describe the photo you are using. However, you also have the freedom to NOT write anything for the alt text.
It is possible to leave it blank when no image is used and you only want to insert a blank spot. Plus, you can go as short as 2 words if the image requires brevity. All an empty alt tag looks like is alt = “”
Always be natural when using those keywords you include in your alt text. Forced keywords are not going to help the image or make your web page look that good. The text needs to create relevance.
What follows are those positive features your alt text should have:
- Always write naturally whether you are using keywords or not
- Do not stuff the text with keywords but use them wisely
- Make sure the text describes the content and visual aspects in the photo
- The text needs to describe the purpose of the image and why it is on the web page
- The text needs to add value to the web page. This is for user convenience and search engine purposes
- The text needs to create benefits for the web page and its accessibility
- All tags should contain search terms and keywords to help the search engines rank your web page or website
Is Lazy Loading Ideal For Alt Texts
It may be a nice way to slowly load your images but some in the SEO community do not agree with that assessment. Lazy Loading is where the image only loads when your website reader scrolls down to the image. All your images are not loaded at once but are done one at a time as your visitor reads your web pages.
Their concern is that the Google bot cannot read all the images if they do not all load at the same time. You can minimize this risk by having alt text for all your images as the Google bot is capable of reading alt text even when the image has not loaded.
This is up to your preference of course and you may still use the lazy loading system. It should not harm your rankings but to be on the safe side, make sure each image has an alt text added to it.
Are Alt Tags And Title Tags The Same?
No, they are not. One difference between them is when you hover the cursor over the title or image. Usually, the title tag describes links in more detail and provides more detailed information to the user.
Then the alt tag is not normally visible to the user or reader of your website. It is only displayed when the image does not load. It also does not contain as much information as the title tag will when it is displayed.
Also, the alt tag will be the substitute for the title tag when the latter is not used. It will appear when the cursor hovers over the title instead of the title tag. But this does not mean that the title tag is not that important. Its purpose is to create even more relevance to the image and why it was used.
Plus, it provides the importance the image has to the web page content. There was a tag that provided even more information than the alt text and title tag and only Firefox and other smaller browsers supported the longdesc tag.
Even Explorer had to be configured to read this tag text. However, longdesc is no longer supported when it is used to implement websites using HTML5. It may be overlooked during search engine optimization.
To use this longer text you usually have to write it as an HTML document and access it via a link. It is still possible to use this option but it may take a little more time to write it out and store it in the source text.
Again, you would have to assess this option to see if it is valuable to you and will help you out in your ranking and other SEO strategies.
Adding Alt Text To Your Web Pages
To find a good starting point for adding alt text to your website you should do a good SEO audit of your current content. This audit will help you see where adding alt text will enhance your photos and describe untagged images.
You can monitor your organic traffic to see how the new alt tags have changed viewership. The more images you optimize, the more enhanced your SEO strategy will be.
The key to helping your website rank better is to make sure you have top-rated alt tags installed in your images.
Using alt tags will be an improvement over your current situation. The key is to make sure they follow the rules described above and are the right length. Make sure they are no longer than 125 characters to ensure that all screen readers can read what the image is about.
Also, do not stuff the text with keywords as that will ruin your goals and possibly your ranking. if an image doesn’t always load, it may not be your alt tag’s fault but one of many other reasons why images fail to get on screen.
Your goal is to be as specific as possible with the best descriptions you can muster and do it all in under 125 characters. It is not an impossible dream but a very reachable goal.
If you too are struggling with alt texts for your website, and need some guidance, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Was this post helpful?
Last Updated in January 2022 by Lukasz Zelezny