Some Simple Tips on How to Optimize Alt Texts
One area where web designers and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals usually butt heads is over the use of images as text instead of actual plain text, usually done in the navigation or other important elements of a website. This can cripple an SEO implementation by limiting the effectiveness of elements that could have been textually based, as text is much more effective for interlinking. This is just one area where image alt text can be very useful.
Alt text — which are found in the “alt” portion of image tag — allows you to add a short descriptor of the image, whether it’s a photograph, a navigational element or some other useful image or graphic. Alt text allows you to describe to users who hover their mouse over an image what they’re seeing, but for SEO, it also gives the search engine more information than the image’s file name might. Optimizing image alt text is a part of any effective on-site SEO campaign, and in this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to optimize alt texts to make them more useful and effective.
First, if there is text in your image, make sure your alt text matches it precisely. If it’s a one-word image such as menu item, for example, you would include this word in your alt text, as well as possibly a short description of the menu item. This gives the search engine some idea as to what that element is all about.
Secondly, for pictures and other descriptive images, you want at most a sentence describing what users can see in that picture, and again, it has to match what the picture actually is. Google’s crawlers can’t see images, but humans can, and if one of Google’s engineers see that you’re filling your image alt tags with irrelevant information, it could raise red flags.
Finally, not every image has to have an alt text in it. You wouldn’t add alt text to transparent spacer images used to align other elements of a page together, for example, but you would add alt text to all important and relevant images on a page. Alt text doesn’t carry the weight of actual readable text in the eyes of the search engines, but it’s better having it than not.