The Importance of Alt Text for SEO

Back in the day, many people didn’t understand how SEO was used; in fact, if you talked about SEO, you’d probably have to explain that it meant “search engine optimization” (and then, possibly, also explain what that meant). Now, thankfully, knowledge of SEO principles has become more commonplace. Even if people have never run a website themselves, they have a general idea of how SEO works.

For the most part, the general understanding has to do with key words within visible content. Most casual Internet users can recognize when a website is stuffing content with key words to try and get a higher Google ranking. But there are other sneaky ways to boost your SEO without relying on such easy-to-spot tricks. One of them is the “alt text” function for images on your websites.

In certain content management systems, when you upload images you’re going to have a field dedicated to “alt text.” Here, you can enter a key word or key phrase about what’s in the image. If you happen to be doing coding yourself, you can add alt text with HTML that looks like this:

<img src=”” alt=”key word here”>

This will help Google scan your website and match Web browsers with the most accurate images pertaining to their search inquiries. Although Google also uses contextual content (the words found directly around the image, as well as the heading on the page where the image is posted) to help determine the relevancy of photos, alt text is just another way to guide the powerful algorithm into understanding what’s on your page and boosting it as a suggestion in relevant searches.

One thing to note is the fact that alt text should not be the same for all images on your page. For example, if you’re showcasing a line of ice cream treats, each image should have a unique key word pertinent to the specific image, like “banana split” and “hot fudge sundae” rather than giving both pictures the title of “ice cream.” Furthermore, if you have a separate caption on your image, then the alt text should not be identical to your caption.

When posting your image, you also have the option of displaying alt text or not. If it’s in your code, it can still be scanned by Google and counted toward your ranking position. However, you can choose to display your alt text when a viewer passes his or her mouse cursor over the image. This can act as a secondary point of information about the photo. But, to that extent, it should also be readable. Rather than posting “hot fudge sundae,” you might want to say, “Come by to try out our delicious hot fudge sundae!” That way, the alt text makes more sense to the naked eye and becomes more pertinent — it’s yet another opportunity to communicate with your prospective clients and customers.

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