Image alternate text (Alt Text) is the description that web browsers display when a certain image on your website are not shown. It was introduced in HTML 2 to convey the context in images for visually impaired readers with screen readers or for readers with images turned off in browsers. There are multiple terms and abbreviations to it such as “Alt Img”, “Alt Tag”, “Alt Attribute” and “Alt Desc” but they serve the same purpose.
Not only we are helping users to understand our content better with the application of alt txt, we are also giving Google a heads-up that there’s an image or a collection of images on our page and describing it to Google the message that we are trying to convey with the images.
After all, google is a machine and the capability of google in ‘reading’ images is here, but it is developed mostly for reading texts in images, not in describing images. As such, Google still advise against embedding important text in images, instead, keeping the text in HTML and providing alt txt for images.
I am a content writer for Melbourne Zoo and my marsupial buddy, koala is the star of my article.
Here’s the first photo on my article and I have taken this on my iphone with the filename “2020-Apr-29-IMG84761”.
If I were to post it on my article without alt-text, it would look like this on my page.
<img src=”2020-Apr-29-IMG84761.jpg” alt=””>
Googlebot will ignore the image on its crawling process, thus this image will never appear on Google Images for koala image searches and bringing in precious organic visitors to Melbourne Zoo website.
I am going to add Australia’s animal as my image alt text.
<img src=”2020-Apr-29-IMG84761.jpg” alt=”Australia’s animal”>
Google may see a quokka instead of koala, who knows? Quokka has earned quite a reputation in the United States with over 4.4k searches per month and may even outrank koala’s reputation as “Australia’s animal”. It is best to be as specific as you can get in describing an image.
As tempting as it might get, do not introduce multiple, incoherent words on alt text to increase keyword searches like below:
<img src=”2020-Apr-29-IMG84761.jpg” alt=”Koala sleeping grey koala koala in tree Australia animal Melbourne zoo koalas koala”>
Not only it creates confusion to users, keyword stuffing is a bad SEO practice and may even cause your website to be banned on Google!
Here’s a suggestion – include a noun, verb and the location where the photo is taken, if available.
<img src=”2020-Apr-29-IMG84761.jpg” alt=”koala sleeping on a tree in Melbourne Zoo”>
This is a concise description which includes the location that I wish to include in my article and it is clear enough for users plus it contains the information that Googlebot needs when it crawls the website.
I bet any screen readers or Googlebot will be able to understand the context of the image with the description below:
<img src=”2020-Apr-29-IMG84761.jpg” alt=”koala sleeping on an eucalyptus tree branch in Melbourne Zoo”>
Never skip alt text images and always include this as part of SEO improvement on your website. Think about informative description (without over doing it) for your website images. It is one of the simplest SEO solutions that you can do it yourself.
Here’s the Google official guide on Google Image best practices. Good luck in optimizing the images on your website it certainly is an easy SEO fix to improve your ranking on Google.
Got questions on SEO on adding alt text to your images?
Photo credits to Natalie Su, Ellicia, Dillon Pena on Unsplash