When going over a checklist for your website, there’s a good chance that alt-text won’t occupy a prominent place on the list, if it appears at all. But alt-text, also known as alt-tags, is a valuable, often overlooked part of search engine optimization (SEO). Not only that, but it’s an easy procedure to do well, so a little time spent practicing alt-text can give your site’s SEO a big boost.
What is Alt-Text?
Alt-text is used to describe an image displayed on a web page. If an image can’t load, the alt-text should be displayed in its place. Alt-text is also used by screen-reading software to describe images to blind and visually impaired visitors. In other words, alt-text makes your entire site, including images, accessible to users regardless of their visual ability. It also affords you an opportunity to practice good SEO.
How to Use Alt-Text
Alt-text should succinctly describe a given image. A picture of a Siberian tiger in the snow might read, for instance, “Siberian tiger walks through snow.” A photo of the Eiffel Tower could say, “Eiffel Tower at nighttime.”
Alt-text isn’t just an explanation for pictures. Search engines such as Google scan a page’s alt-text and use it to help determine the page’s content and its pertinence to various search terms. Thus, alt-text gives you the chance to further boost your SEO by using targeted keywords when writing descriptions.
For example, if using a picture of a car in an article about the latest Ford Focus, instead of writing, “A car drives down the highway,” you could write, “A 2018 Ford Focus drives down the highway.” Similarly, instead of writing, “A slice of pizza,” you could say, “A slice of pepperoni pizza.”
Be sure to describe what’s in the image, but keep the content straightforward. “A large slice of delicious pepperoni pizza on a pretty blue plate in a white kitchen” is too wordy and detracts from the focus of the image, which is the pizza itself.
Also, don’t use “picture of” and similar phrases in your alt-text; it’s assumed that the alt-text refers to an image.
When looking at a site’s HTML, one can see the alt-text contained within the image tag. For example: <img src=“car.png” alt=“A 2018 Ford Focus drives down the highway”/>. Here, “A 2018 Ford Focus drives down the highway” is the alt-text.
Here are a few more examples of what good alt-text can look like. When writing your own, don’t forget to consider the subject of your article as well as pertinent keywords. Unlike other aspects of SEO, alt-text requires only a minor investment of time and skill, but the returns can be highly effective.
Here are four alt-text examples to get you started:
<img src=”2018-Chevy-Malibu.jpeg” alt=”Blue 2018 Chevy Malibu driving by the ocean”>
<img src=”Chihuahua-plays.jpeg” alt=”Brown Chihuahua plays with white rope toy”
<img src=”grand-canyon-rainbow.jpeg” alt=”Grand Canyon daytime skyline with rainbow”>
<img src=”woman-on-swing.jpeg” alt=”Woman using swing while looking at ocean”>