What Is Alt Text & Why It Matters for SEO

What Is Alt Text & Why It Matters for SEO

What Is Alt Text?

Alt textual content (quick for various textual content) is textual content included in HTML code to explain a picture on a webpage.

It supplies context for search engine crawlers in addition to for these viewing a web page with a display screen reader.

Alt textual content can be generally known as “alt attributes” and “alt tags.”

Right here’s what it appears to be like like: Image source

And right here’s an alt textual content instance in HTML:

<img src="hanging-planter.jpg" alt="Disco ball hanging planter with vines hanging off the side">

Why Is Alt Text Necessary for Picture SEO?

Google Picture searches account for 22.6% of all searches.

This makes photographs a strong solution to get extra SEO site visitors.

And Google reads alt text to assist perceive what photographs are about. Without alt textual content, your photographs are a lot much less prone to rank on Google Photographs.

Google additionally usually shows photographs on the high of common Google search outcomes, earlier than webpages. For instance, if we search for “content distribution chart” we see photographs displayed as the highest outcomes:

image results for content distribution chart

So optimizing your picture alt textual content can result in extra site visitors from each Google and Google Photographs.

In this article, we’ll cowl precisely how to try this. Together with examples, greatest practices, and easy methods to discover and repair lacking alt textual content.

Alt Text Examples

To write down the best alt textual content, be descriptive and use a pure tone of voice. Take into consideration the way you’d describe a picture to somebody in a dialog. Don’t attempt to stuff it filled with key phrases (which sounds robotic).

Let’s go over a couple of photographs with okay, higher, and greatest alt textual content examples.

We’ll begin with this image of a charcuterie board:

Round charcuterie board with meats, cheese, crackers, and other colorful snacks

Unhealthy alt textual content instance: alt=”Concepts for dinner events”

Okay alt text example: alt=”Charcuterie board”

Better alt text example: alt=”Charcuterie board with meats and cheese”

Greatest alt textual content instance: alt=”Round charcuterie board with meats, cheese, crackers, and other colorful snacks”

The “bad” example here is targeting a specific keyword (“ideas for dinner parties”) without actually telling us what’s in the image. While the “okay” and “better” examples do a better job, our “best” example provides the most detail and context for the picture.

Next, let’s go over this image taken at Central Park:

Bridge at Central Park surrounded by trees and foliage

Unhealthy alt textual content instance: alt=”Bridge flowers timber greenery park”

Okay alt text example: alt=”Central Park”

Better alt text example: alt=”Bridge at Central Park”

Greatest alt textual content instance: alt=”Bridge at Central Park surrounded by trees and foliage”

The “bad” example is a list of words rather than a description. The “best” example includes information about the specific location as well as what’s shown in the picture.

Lastly, here’s an image from the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

Track and field event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Unhealthy alt textual content instance: alt=”Sporting occasion observe subject Olympics gold medal”

Okay alt text example: alt=”Monitor and subject”

Better alt text example: alt=”Monitor and subject occasion”

Greatest alt textual content instance: alt=”Track and field event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics”

Similarly, our “bad” example here feels unnatural and doesn’t tell us what’s going on in the picture.

Notice that all of our “best” examples are the most descriptive without being spammy. And when there’s a clear name or event related to the image (like Central Park or Beijing Olympics), that’s included as well.

Alt Text Best Practices

Let’s go over some ground rules to follow when writing alt text.

We’ve already covered that good alt text is descriptive without being spammy, but here are a few more important notes:

Hold Alt Text 125 Characters or Much less

Display screen readers and different assistive applied sciences often stop reading alt text on the 125-character mark.

It’s greatest to cap your alt textual content at this quantity so it doesn’t get reduced.

Include One Main Keyword for Context

This may seem counterintuitive to our previous advice. However, it’s a good idea to include the main keyword in your alt text if it provides context for the page the image is on.

The point of alt text is to provide additional information and context, and the target keyword often does just that.

To make it more natural, you also can use variations of your main keyword.

Let’s say we’re writing alt text for this image from our blog post on building backlinks:

examples of what makes a good link

This weblog put up targets the key phrase “link building,” however it will feel a bit pressured to add that in right here as a result of the picture is a few extra particular matters.

So a great technique right here might be: alt=” examples of what makes a great hyperlink”

This way we include the partial keyword “link,” but it’s still relevant to both the image and the webpage.

Don’t Include Alt Text for Decorative Images

While the goal of alt text is to provide as much context for images as possible, some images don’t need further explanation.

There’s no need to include alt text for decorative images like icons, horizontal line page breaks, a magnifying glass icon in a search bar, etc.

Those using screen readers don’t need to know what these images look like to understand the page, and Google doesn’t need further information or additional context to rank the webpage.

Here’s an example of a decorative illustration that wouldn’t need alt text:

Example of image that doesn't need alt text

Don’t Include “Image of” or “Picture of” in Alt Text

As mentioned, you only have 125 characters to describe your image. Including filler text like “picture of” or “image of” will only waste that space, since it’s already implied to both users and Google that these are images.

Here’s an example of what not to do vs. what to do for an image of a flooring lamp:

Mid-century modern floor lamp in a furnished living room

❌ alt=” Picture of mid-century fashionable flooring lamp”

✅ alt=” Mid-century fashionable flooring lamp in a furnished lounge”

The second possibility is extra to-the-point and provides key extra info and context.

Don’t Cover What’s Already in the Caption

There’s no reason to include redundant information in your alt text. If a photo already has a caption, instead of repeating it in the alt text, provide more context about the photo instead.

Here’s an example of an image with a caption for Strand Bookstore in New York:

Exterior of Strand Bookstore with crimson awnings and other people shopping out of doors bookshelves
This famous New York bookseller has two locations: one in Union Square and the other on the Upper West Side. This photo is of the Union Square location.

❌ alt=” Union Square location of Strand Bookstore”

✅ alt=” Exterior of Strand Bookstore with red awnings and people browsing outdoor bookshelves”

The second alt text is more accessible—instead of repeating the caption, it describes what’s happening in the picture.

Find & Fix Missing Alt Text

To check if there’s missing alt text on your site, use our Site Audit tool.

Start by clicking the “Add new project” button in the upper right.

create Site Audit project

Then add the area and title of your website, and click on “Create project.”

Add new Site Audit project

Observe the directions to complete establishing your web site Audit, then allow it to run.

When your Audit report is prepared, click on it. Then click on the “Issues” tab:

Site Audit issues tab

You’ll be directed to an inventory of Errors, Warnings, and Notices. Slender your search outcomes by trying for “alt attributes.” It will present you what number of photographs are lacking alt textual content:

Missing alt attribute

Click on the hyperlink (“57 images” above) to see precisely which photographs are inflicting the problem so you may log in to your website and repair them.

Missing alt text list

The next move is to log into your CMS and add alt textual content to any photographs listed right here.

When you add the lacking alt textual content to your website, you may re-run your web site Audit so it might probably replicate the adjustments.

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