An alt tag or alt attribute is a type of HTML text that contains information telling users and crawlers that there is an image present on the web page, and information about that image.
Why are Image Alt Tags Important?
Alt tags are important for a range of reasons.
1. They Improve Accessibility
Alt tags can help users that are visually impaired and using voice readers to discover and understand the images that are embedded within web page content.
It can also ensure that mobile users can understand a web page’s content if a website isn’t optimised for mobile usage.
2. They Improve Crawlability
Crawlers can’t read images, but they can read text. Therefore, including alt text means that images can be understood more easily and will be crawled and indexed as part of your page.
3. They Can Explain Images That Don’t Load
If a page doesn’t load correctly for whatever reason, end users will still be able to understand there is an image accompanying the content and the alt text will provide context for this.
How to Optimize Alt Tags for SEO
There are a few things to consider when optimising your alt tags for search engines.
1. Detail Is Key
When writing your alt tag, go into as much detail as possible. Remember, if an individual has accessibility issues, and can’t see the image, writing just ‘shoe’ for example doesn’t give them that much insight over ‘shiny brown brogue shoe on a white background’.
Instead, deliver context and descriptive words in order to provide the best experience.
2. Integrate Keywords
Alt text is a great chance for you to integrate your target keyword. This establishes your page as a relevant source, and this is always good for increasing ranking in SERPs.
3. Keep an Eye on Length
This is important. Be sure to keep your alt text relatively short, around 125 characters is good. This is because screen readers may cut off text that extends beyond this point.
4. Include Buttons
If you have form buttons, make sure to attach an alt tag to them, in order to explain their function.
5. Leave out Unnecessary Phrases
You may think it’s necessary to include phrases like ‘image of’ at the beginning of your description however this is superfluous and already assumed.
6. Use longdesc=””.
For more complex images, use longdesc=””. Which will allow you to write longer descriptions without being cut off.
Mistakes you Should Avoid
Images and alt tags can have a huge impact on your page’s performance and level of accessibility, therefore it’s important to watch out for some common mistakes.
- Not including alt text. Don’t fall at the first hurdle. If you’ve gone to the effort of including images, make sure they don’t get missed by the crawlers
- Providing the bare minimum will not cut it. A single word in alt text is nearly as bad as not providing an alt tag at all
- Keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs. You will receive a Google penalty for this black hat technique. Stick to quality keyword research and integrate one target word.
How Can We Help?
Just realised that you’ve not used alt tags on any of your website? Does the job seem way too overwhelming?
We can help – contact us today and we’ll put you in touch with a team that will be able to check out all your meta tags and optimise them.