Does Alt Text Help SEO?

In the digital realm, where visual content is king, it's crucial to remember that not all visitors to your site can actually 'see' this content. This is where alt text steps in, providing a textual description for images that enhances accessibility, especially for visually impaired users. But beyond that, could there be additional benefits to alt text? Specifically, can it boost your SEO efforts?

What Is Alt Text?

Alt text is an important part of web content and SEO, as it helps search engines and other robots understand what an image is about and how it should be indexed. Alt tags provide a text alternative for search engines, which can positively impact search engine rankings. 

Alt text also helps those with visual impairments access the content on a webpage, as it is read out by screen readers when the image fails to load. Alt tags can be used to describe the appearance or function of an image, and should be included in the HTML code or in the appropriate field in a CMS (Content Management System). Alt text is an essential part of making the internet accessible to all and should be used whenever images are included in web content.

Is Alt Text Important in SEO?

Alt text is an important factor in SEO, as it provides context to search engine crawlers, allowing them to index an image correctly. Not setting alt tags for images can have a negative effect on the ranking of webpages and can reduce user experience for anyone who is visually impaired. Alt text also aids in accessibility by providing a description of what an image is displaying to those who cannot see them. Google, Bing, and other search engines use algorithms to determine the relevance of webpages, and one basic way of doing this is by looking at the text on the page - including keywords used in the alt attribute of images. This helps search engines understand what an image is about and can lead to more traffic from both Google and Google Images. Alt tags serve an important purpose in helping search engines and robots interpret images, and can contribute to how a page is indexed and where it ranks in search engine results. They also provide a description of what an image is displaying for users with visual impairments, as well as those who are using screen readers or browsers that can't process images. Alt text can help optimize your website's images and can help drive more organic traffic to your website.

Alt text is an essential part of SEO as it helps search engines understand what an image is about and how it is relevant to the web page it appears on. By setting descriptive alt text, you can ensure that both search engine crawlers and users are able to access the content of your page, even if they are unable to view the images. This helps to improve the user experience and can help to improve rankings in the search engines. Alt text contributes to how a page is indexed and where it ranks, so it is important to make sure to set descriptive alt text for all of your website's images. Alt text can also be beneficial for those who are visually impaired, as it allows them to understand what an image is displaying by having it described in text. As such, setting alt text is not only important for SEO, but also for accessibility.

How To Use Alt Text

When adding alt text to your images, remember to keep it descriptive and concise. Your alt tag should provide enough information for someone using a screen reader to understand what is happening in the image, without being too lengthy. For example, 'Man skiing down snow covered mountain' is a better alt text than 'Skiing'. Likewise, 'Construction worker cutting wood with a power tool' is more descriptive than 'Builder'. 

Make sure to add the alt attribute and the relevant keywords. This will help search engines to understand what is being displayed and ensure that your image ranks higher. At the same time, avoid keyword stuffing, as this can lead to penalties from search engines. When optimizing product images, focus on optimizing for site speed as well as using the same keyword as the product page itself. The text should be kept short and to the point, while also making sure to mention the topic within the alt text. Last but not least, prioritize alt tags appropriately. They should not take precedence over other SEO deliverables such as titles, inter-linking, and meta descriptions. Alt tags should only be prioritized for image-heavy pages that are very light on text.

When you upload an image, make it a habit to set an alt tag. In most content management systems (CMSs), clicking on an image in the body of a blog post produces an image optimization or rich text module, where you can create and change the image's alt text. In HubSpot, an image optimization window will appear after clicking on an image and clicking the edit icon. In WordPress, clicking on an image will open the Block tab in the sidebar. Under the Image Settings section, add the alt text in the empty field. The most important rule of alt text is to be descriptive and specific, while also considering the image's context.

Describe Your Pictures Correctly

In conclusion, alt text serves as a powerful tool, enhancing both accessibility and SEO performance. By crafting thoughtful, descriptive alt text for your images, you're not only aiding visually impaired users but also providing search engines with valuable context that can boost your site's ranking. Thus, integrating alt text into your SEO strategy is a win-win situation, making your website more user-friendly while improving its visibility in the vast digital landscape.

blog author kyle roof

Co-Founder & Lead SEO at POP

Kyle Roof is an SEO expert, speaker and trainer. Kyle currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand with his family.

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