Content Tips 7 min read

How ALT Text Can be Your Secret SEO Weapon

Image from Digital Vidya

Image from Digital Vidya

If you aren’t optimizing your images, using image ALT text to your advantage, and creating SEO-friendly graphics, then you’re missing out. These are important tools in your arsenal to organically boost your site’s ranking.

Image ALT Text and SEO

Let’s talk about what image SEO is. It’s the optimization of images, videos, graphics, etc. so they rank on Google and other search engines. This is another chance for you to capture the attention of your target audience.

A graphic that reads
Image from Digital Vidya

How Does This Relate to Image ALT Text?

ALT text can also be referred to as "alt tags" and "alt descriptions." Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the written copy that appears in place of an image if the image fails to load.

The reason image ALT text is so important to image search engine optimization is because it allows search engines to better explore and rank your website.

When you combine image optimization with great ALT text, you have a winning combination.

Google now delivers about the same number of image results as text-based results. That’s huge. If you aren’t writing your ALT text and image captions to help boost your SEO, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.

With the modern trend of Google favoring long-form content, images are now more important than ever. Gone are the days of 250-word answers to a keyphrase.

Images, graphics, videos, and screenshots not only visually help explain the answer, but they also act as a page break for long content.

One of the most important things image alt text can do for you is turn your images into hyperlinked search results. This is another way that searchers can find your site.

Here are some tips to use to optimize your image ALT text SEO ranking.

Tip #1: Use Images That Support Your Keywords

Know your target audience. Before you began writing your content, you should have defined the keywords or a key phrase that you’re aiming to rank number one with.

Try to find images that compliment the keywords that you’ve identified. These act as another opportunity to boost your SEO.

However, this is not the time to stuff keywords into your text. You are describing the image for someone who can’t see it. That should be your main focus.

Home Slice Pizza
Image from Business Insider

For example, Home Slice Pizza wants to increase its online presence. They post this picture of their restaurant.

Here’s what not to do…

alt="Pizza is our specialty at Home Slice Pizza. We offer friendly service and outdoor dining. "

Close your eyes. If someone read you the above description would this be what you picture? No. The image ALT Text sounds more like a meta description of the site that describes the picture.

They stuffed keywords like "pizza," "outdoor dining," and "friendly service" into the image ALT text. Those keywords are important to mention in your content, but they do not explain to the reader what’s happening in the picture.

How to Fix it

alt="Home Slice Pizza’s Christmas lights light up outdoor dining. Sign says Queen of Pies."

This is why this image ALT text works. Close your eyes again. If someone read you this description I bet you would imagine something close to what is happening in the image. The ALT text also mentions the name of the business and the keyword of "our door dining."

Tip #2: Short and Sweet

The recommended ALT text length is around 125 characters. Remember the main goal of your image ALT text is to explain what’s going on in your picture to someone who can’t see. Try to keep the explanation simple.

If ALT text gets too wordy, some search engines will cut it off. Imagine being blind and your screen reader is reading you the description of an image. Then, just when it gets to the good part, it stops. How frustrating!

Tip #3: Be Specific

You not only want to be descriptive but you also want to be specific.

Former President Barack Obama is sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office.
Image from daileydot.com

alt="A man is sitting behind a desk holding a sheet of paper."

The image ALT text above is quite descriptive. If you close your eyes and someone reads it to you, I bet you’d picture exactly what’s going on in the photo.

However, the man is former President Barack Obama. He’s in the Oval Office in the White House.

How to Fix it

alt="Former President Barack Obama is sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office"

Now, if you close your eyes again, you will picture the former president. You can see him sitting at the iconic desk in the White House. This improves your SEO ranking because it tells specifically what’s happening.

If someone is searching for "Barack Obama oval office," you want your image to appear at the top of the search results page.

Tip #4: Context is Important

The examples above have good context. The pizza restaurant offers outdoor dining and former President Barack Obama is in the oval office. What if you aren’t sure exactly the location of the picture?

Think about your target audience when writing the image ALT text.

professor holding his student
Image from CNN.com

alt="baby dressed in pink in a carrier is being latched on a man"

This is descriptive. However, the target audience typed in the key phrase "professor holding student’s baby."

How to Fix it

alt="professor holding his student’s baby so the student can take notes"

This image ALT text now clearly supports the keyphrase typed it.

Tip #5: Optimize Your Images

Image ALT text and captions are important. However, pictures and other images must be the correct file format and size if they are to improve your SEO ranking.

Large file sizes can increase your page loading time. If it takes too long for your page to load, your SEO ranking will suffer. Your searcher doesn’t want to wait for you.

Resize or compress your images to optimize them.

Here’s a great tip. Use your images to sneak in keywords by naming them accordingly.

For example, you have a website that sells makeup. Don’t name the image "moisturizer 3." Instead, use a name like "best moisturizer for over 40 skin."

INK Optimizes Your Images for You

I believe so strongly in Image ALT text’s impact on your SEO, that I have created a piece of software to help you out. It gives you tips on writing the best ALT text for your image. It grades your alt text score. If you forget the tips discussed in this article, there’s even a reminder on how important your ALT Text is to your SEO.

INK optimizes my images for me. It rates my alt text score and image caption.
INK optimizes my images for me. It rates my alt text score and image caption.

INK also has a built-in feature that automatically optimizes your images when you upload them. This ensures they are the proper file size. Remember you want your site to load quickly as not to frustrate readers.

Because your content is also important in your SEO, INK checks for grammar errors, punctuation, spelling, typos, and overuse of passive voice. It’s really a one-stop-shop for all of your SEO needs. To start using INK, just visit our homepage and download it for free.

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

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Alexander De Ridder

Co-Founder of INK, Alexander crafts magical tools for web marketing. He is a smart creative, a builder of amazing things. He loves to study “how” and “why” humans and AI make decisions.

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