13 May 2015

SEO 101 Series: ALT Text Optimization [VIDEO]

This is the fifth of six SEO 101 series videos on the fundamental building blocks that make up well optimized websites. To see all the SEO 101 series, you can find the list here.

Image Optimization is an aspect of your onsite SEO that can improve your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website. Using alternative text, or alt text, is an SEO and user accessibility best practice because it not only helps Google and other search engines classify and understand your images, it also assists visually-impaired visitors and other users with limited ability to see your images. This often overlooked step to optimizing your website is vital to helping your site rank more successfully and bringing in traffic from Image Search.

Transcript of the Video:

Today we’re going to explore how to use Alt Text to optimize images on your website.

Because Google and other search engines cannot see and interpret your images as language, we have to help them along by describing the images using a piece of code – or meta data – called the Alt Text. Often called the Alt Tag, this text is the image’s alternative text, which can be read by the search engines and human visitors alike.

This piece of meta data, when properly attributed to your image in the HTML source code, may seem modest at first, but Alt Text is truly powerful because it simultaneously is a way to optimize your website for the search engines, assist visually impaired visitors, and can even be a source of new web traffic through Image search.

Every image on your website should have Alt Text, whether you hand code it in the HTML or you assign it to the image using your content management system like WordPress. Here are 3 tips for optimizing your Alt Text for the search engines and human visitors:

Number One: Be descriptive and accurate. For example, “thin bare red branches in winter” would be an appropriate alt text attribute for this image.

Two: Use keywords to relate and give context within the content on the page, but don’t keyword stuff or over-optimize. For example, Alt Text for this image, such as “My Brand Kitchenware Tools and Cutting Boards” utilizes the brand’s organic search keywords, but it follows the rules of accuracy and simplicity without being spammy.

Finally, keep it short and simple. Google recommends, and a recent case study shows, that we should be descriptive, accurate, and appropriately-optimized in no more than 16 words.

When in doubt, always ask yourself if you’re writing your Alt Text exclusively for the search engines, or if you’re really thinking about your human visitor. You should always lean toward the latter; alternative text is a tenet of accessible web design, and is meant to make your content understandable, even to those using screen readers, non-visual browsers, and braille readers.

If you follow these three tips and add the Alt Text attribute to every one of your website images, you’ll not only be complying with accessibility guidelines, but you’ll see an organic SEO benefit – a benefit upon which your competitors may not capitalizing – and you’ll have a better chance of getting web traffic from Image Search.

Learn more about image optimization here.