SEO

Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Image Alt Attributes

This is a guest post by AJ Wilcox of OrangeSoda, an internet marketing and search marketing company that specializes in local search and SEO for small business.

As you are coding your site, you most often get the necessary stuff in, and then sweep back for all the leftovers. Quite often, developers forget to add the alt=”” attribute to images because it’s not required to appear completed. Since image alts are not visible to the majority of searchers, they’re easy to forget.

I’d like to cover why you shouldn’t forget about them, or why you should go input them now.

Traffic from Image Searches

How do you think Google classifies images in order to display in images.google.com when a searcher enters a keyword? A few options come to mind. They can pull the filename (ie. Bluecar.jpg will likely be relevant when someone searches for ‘blue car’), text surrounding the image, the alt text, and they can inspect the image digitally (their technology is improving fast). By including your page keywords in your alt text, you raise your chances of showing up in image searches, and getting subsequent visitors from those image searches.

The Visually Impaired

Users who are blind have browsers that read the page text aloud. When the browser comes to an image, if there is no alt text, the browser can’t add to the user’s experience. Visually impaired users should definitely be able to get the gist of images like the rest of us, so take a few minutes and write some descriptive alt text.

Google Usability Love

What is Google’s goal? They are first and foremost a business, so they want to make money. They make a good 98% of their money through paid ads. The more users on Google properties, the more chances that users will click their ads, and add to the bottom line. The better the experience that users have surfing sites through Google, the more they will return. Of course it makes sense for Google to reward complete, fully-usable content to hover near the top of their indexes.

Rankings

Keyword usage in image alt text is classified as having minimal importance by a consortium of SEO experts, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It is yet another opportunity to declare your relevance to your given keyword. The little things add up to big things together, so don’t ignore them. Personally, I feel that image alt text plays a larger role than most on-site factors due to the previous point about usability, but that’s personal opinion.

So there you have it, don’t forget your image alt text.

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Image Alt Attributes
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Image Alt Attributes

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21 thoughts on “Why You Need to Stop Ignoring Image Alt Attributes

  1. Thanks for updating good stuff. You have nicely explain the use of alt tag in image. Alt tag will help to read image because search engine can not read image

  2. I was sitting in a session where the speaker happened to be blind and a multi-millionaire. He stressed out how important it was to make your site accessible and add alt tags. Aside from SEO advantage, I think just for the sake of usability we should have it.

  3. One of the things stressed at PubCon a couple of years ago was accessibility. I made sure all of my alt tags were short and concise. After I did I noticed that I received a small traffic bump.

  4. Image Alt tags is the only SEO point which i don't agree. I have been maintaining few sites from the past couple of years. But none of my images comes in Google images 1st page. I really don't understand on what basis does Google Image search algorithm is designed…

  5. Alt text on images are definitely a good opportunity to add additional keywords and thus enhance your on page efforts. Also as you mentioned the accessibility factor for blind people is very important.

    This is all 100% accurate! :-)

  6. The alt text on images plays an important part. One has got to be sure that the alt text on images relates to the images!

  7. Usability is essentially one of the cornerstones of good SEO. Google does not want to serve the end user a site that they cannot load, read or use.

  8. By using alt tags i have been able to get images to rank in google image search for my keywords. On most sites it isnt monizeable, but on adsense sites it seems to work well

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  10. Makes a lot of sense to put in an alt tag. I do anyway – anything to complete the info that you are giving users and search engines.

  11. I never ignore alt tags even if my designer/developer forget about it. I am glad that you have listed out the benefits so clearly that no developer will ignore alt tags from now on :-)

  12. This is one of the fundamentals that any SEO should be aware of. If you think of the simple, even top 10 features of a well structured page then using the alt tags should be one of those. Good images loves a well optimised ALT tag.

  13. i think there's a big problem regarding alt text: should it be used to improve accessibilty or search engine ranking? Because that implies two very different approach to alt text.
    I just finished to update a website following a seo expert advice about alt text: to my great disappointment i had to stuff alt text with keywords (in respect to google advice!) which maybe will help the website findability but are absolutely useless for people using alternative browsers!!

  14. i think there's a big problem regarding alt text: should it be used to improve accessibilty or search engine ranking? Because that implies two very different approach to alt text.
    I just finished to update a website following a seo expert advice about alt text: to my great disappointment i had to stuff alt text with keywords (in respect to google advice!) which maybe will help the website findability but are absolutely useless for people using alternative browsers!!