Do you ever search for something on Google and click the “Images” tab to see what might pop up? Chances are you do, and so do lots of other people. In fact, one study shows that over 26% of searches are done with Google Images. If you own an ecommerce website or visually display your services on the Web, you should enhance your photos with an SEO tool called alt attributes.
What are alt attributes?
Alt attributes are also known as alt text, alt tags, or alt descriptions. They are simply an alternate way of describing an image by showing text in the image’s place. Since search engines cannot interpret images except with what they find in the Web page’s content, alt attributes are written in the coding and give search engines a clear description of the image.
What are they used for?
You’ll also notice that when you hover your mouse over certain images (usually buttons or product images), a description of the image will appear. This is an alt attribute. The main purpose of alt attributes are for screen readers to “read” images when assisting the visually impaired. It should be every website owner’s responsibility to make sure that their content can be enjoyed by the most amount of people as possible.
Additionally, if for some reason an image cannot be displayed properly on a browser, its alt attribute will appear instead. Because search engines can better understand your Web page when they interpret its images correctly, properly formatted alt attributes boost your SEO and page ranking.
How do I use them?
Start by focusing on your Web pages that are dense with images, such as portfolios, galleries, and product pages. These pages will be harder for search engines to interpret on their own since there is less content to work with. Include keywords in your alt attributes, but don’t keyword stuff and only use them if you would actually use that word to describe the image. Keep the tag short, but include an honest description of the image.
Let’s take a look at a few examples. The “img src” is the name of the picture’s file and the text that follows “alt” is the alt attribute.
Don’t: img src="Crayola.jpg" alt="Crayola markers"
Do: img src="Crayola.jpg" alt="Crayola markers and paper on top of table"
Don’t: img src="Nature.jpg" alt="Trees and water"
Do: img src="Nature.jpg" alt="Lake water reflecting trees and cloudy skies"
Don’t: img src="Dog.jpg" alt="Cute dog"
Do: img src="Dog.jpg" alt="Yorkshire Terrier resting on carpet"
If you are unsure about alt attributes ask yourself this question, “If I read the alt attribute out loud to someone who wasn’t looking at the picture, would they be able to visualize the image and be relatively accurate?” When you can confidently answer in the positive, you have a great alt attribute.
Alt attributes are easy write and quick to incorporate into your website. For more ways to boost your SEO, check out the rest of our Understanding SEO blog series. If you’re ready to optimize your own website, WebRevelation offers professional marketing tactics to increase traffic and boost sales. Give us a call today for a free consultation!