Alt text: Improve the SEO of Your Images

You’ve probably heard of alt text, which is added to image files to improve web accessibility. Alt text is the text accompanying images that is read aloud by screen readers, helping visually impaired users to browse the web. You may have already encountered it, if an image does not load correctly: in such a case, it is this text that takes the place of the image. This text can do more for your image’s SEO than you might think, and leaving an alt attribute blank can hurt your rankings as well. 

 Adding alt text to images is a common practice for SEO professionals to optimize image SEO. The alt text should describe not only the content of the image, but also its context. In this article you will find some tips to improve  

How to write effective alt text 

 Alt text gives us the opportunity to incorporate keywords in a relevant way, which enriches the content and provides a better user experience. When writing the alt text of images on a page, be sure to observe the following points: 

a. Be specific 

Describe the content of the image without editorializing. Say what you see, and don’t make assumptions about what’s going on outside the screen, the subject’s motivations, etc. A good way to do this is to think about how you would briefly describe the picture on the phone. While a few words are usually sufficient, sometimes a full sentence is needed. The maximum recommended length for alt text (to accommodate most screen readers) is 125 characters. 

b. Never start your alt tag with “Image of …” or “Photo of …” 

It will be obvious for a person or a machine to know that what they are accessing is alt text, replacing a photo. Imagine how frustrating it is to use a screen reader on a page that has a lot of pictures and have to read: “Picture of the front of the cinema” , “Picture of the box office”, “Picture of the door of the room “, ” Image of the armchairs “… But it can be useful to explain the type of image (portrait, illustration, graphic, screenshot). 

c. Use keywords sparingly 

If, when describing an image, you can sensibly incorporate one or two important keywords, that’s great. This will effectively contribute to your SEO. But only if you do it honestly and sparingly. 

 Search engines may not recognize contextually “bad” or “unnecessary” alt texts, but you risk being downgraded for keyword stuffing. Your goal should therefore be to specifically and succinctly describe any image that requires alt text. 

d. Include the text that is part of the image. 

When text is included in an image, be sure to place it in your description. 

 Unless you have to repeat to yourself: if your page title is an advertisement for a show for example, don’t put the show back in the image featuring the show poster, because too much of a show kills the show.  

e. Do not add alt text to “decorative” images. 

 ”Decorative” images include things like page dividers, or certain icons … They make things look nicer or visually break up the content of a page. But they don’t have any contextual importance or meaning, so they won’t help people understand the page better if given an alt text. 

 Ideally, decorative images should be handled in your code rather than added as “content”. However, if they are to be downloaded as images, it is possible not to add alt text. Screen readers will simply ignore them, which is the goal in this scenario.