Alt Text: Definition, Purpose, and Significance in SEO
Alt text, short for “alternative text,” is an HTML attribute used to describe the content and function of an image on a web page. It serves as a textual alternative to the image, which can be read by screen readers for visually impaired users or displayed when an image fails to load properly.
The primary purposes of alt text are to improve accessibility and enhance search engine optimization (SEO). By providing a clear and accurate description of an image, alt text helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the image, allowing them to index it appropriately. This increases the likelihood that your images will appear in image search results and contributes to your overall SEO efforts.
Creating Good Alt Text: Examples and Guidelines
To create effective alt text for your images, consider the following guidelines:
- Be descriptive: Describe the content and function of the image in a clear and concise manner. Focus on the most important elements of the image and avoid unnecessary details.
Example: For an image of a laptop on a desk, use “laptop computer on a wooden desk” instead of just “computer.”
- Include relevant keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords into your alt text without keyword stuffing or sacrificing the description’s clarity. This helps search engines associate your image with specific search queries.
Example: For an image of a chocolate cake, use “delicious homemade chocolate cake” instead of just “cake.”
- Avoid redundant phrases: Phrases like “image of” or “picture of” are redundant, as search engines already recognize the content as an image. Focus on describing the image itself.
Example: Use “golden retriever playing with a ball” instead of “image of a golden retriever playing with a ball.”
- Keep it concise: Aim for brevity while still providing a meaningful description. A good rule of thumb is to keep your alt text under 125 characters.
Example: For an image of a city skyline, use “New York City skyline at sunset” instead of a lengthy description listing every building.
Formulas and Templates for Alt Text
A simple formula for creating comprehensive alt text descriptions is:
[Subject] + [Action or Descriptor] + [Context (if applicable)]
- “Woman jogging through a park in autumn”
- “Freshly brewed coffee in a white mug on a table”
SEO Tools and Techniques for Remediating Alt Text Issues
Several SEO tools and techniques can help you identify and fix issues with existing alt text on your website:
- Google Search Console: Google’s Search Console allows you to check your website for any issues related to image optimization, including missing or poorly optimized alt text. Use the “URL Inspection” tool to analyze specific pages and receive suggestions for improvements.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider: This popular SEO tool can crawl your website, identify images with missing or duplicate alt text, and provide recommendations for optimizing your image attributes.
- Site audit tools: Comprehensive site audit tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz can help identify alt text issues across your entire website as part of a broader SEO analysis.
- Manual review: Regularly review your website’s content, particularly when adding new images, to ensure that all images have appropriate and well-crafted alt text.
By implementing these tools and techniques, you can optimize your website’s alt text, enhance your image SEO, and improve overall search engine visibility.