ALT tags, what they are and how to use them

by | Dec 12, 2023

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The hidden advantage of Alt Tags for SEO success

It’s no secret that search engine optimization (SEO) plays a crucial role in the success of any business. With the ever-increasing competition in the online market, it’s essential for businesses to have a strong online presence and utilise SEO strategies to improve their website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). One aspect of SEO that is often overlooked but can have a significant impact on rankings is the use of image Alt tags.

What are Alt tags?

Alt tags, also known as alternative text or alt attributes, are HTML attributes used to describe the content of an image on a web page. This text is displayed in place of an image if the image fails to load, or for visually impaired users who are using screen readers to browse the web. Alt tags serve as alternate text descriptions for search engines and users to better understand the context of an image. Alt tags are also used by search engines to determine the relevancy of an image to the web page’s content.

Importance of Alt tags in SEO

While alt tags may seem like a minor detail, they can significantly impact your website’s SEO when used correctly. Here’s how:

1. Improved Accessibility

As mentioned earlier, alt tags not only help search engines but also visually impaired users to understand the context of an image. By providing alternative text descriptions, you are making your website more accessible to all users, which can improve your website’s overall user experience. This can result in lower bounce rates and higher engagement, which are favorable signals for search engines.

2. Keyword Optimisation

Keyword optimization is a key element of SEO, and alt tags can provide an additional opportunity for optimisation. Including relevant keywords in your alt tags can help search engines understand the relevance of your images to your web page’s content. However, it’s crucial not to stuff alt tags with keywords, as it can be considered as spam by search engines and hurt your SEO efforts. Use descriptors that accurately describe the image while incorporating relevant keywords in a natural and meaningful way.

3. Image Search Ranking

Many people use Google Image Search to find images related to their search queries. By optimising your alt tags, you can potentially increase your chances of appearing in image search results, leading to more traffic to your website. When someone clicks on your image in the search results, it will lead them to your website, increasing your website’s visibility and potentially driving more conversions.

4. Descriptive Content

Alt tags serve as a form of descriptive content and provide additional context about an image to search engines. This can help improve your website’s relevance and authority, leading to higher rankings on SERPs. Including alt tags also makes it easier for search engine crawlers to understand what your website is about, making it easier for them to index it.

5. Proper Image Indexing

Search engines cannot “see” images in the same way humans can. Instead, they rely on text-based information such as alt tags to understand what an image is about. By not including alt tags, you are missing out on an opportunity to properly index your images, potentially affecting your website’s overall rankings.

How to Use Alt Tags Correctly

Now that we understand the importance of alt tags in SEO let’s take a look at some best practices for using them correctly:

1. Be Descriptive

Make sure your alt tags accurately describe what the image is about. Use relevant keywords where appropriate, but avoid keyword stuffing. If the image is decorative and doesn’t add any value to the content, it’s best to leave the alt tag empty or use alt=”” to indicate that the image is purely decorative.

2. Keep it Short

Alt tags should be concise and to the point. Typically, alt tags should not exceed 125 characters, as longer alt tags may be truncated by some browsers. Stick to the most important information and avoid using unnecessary words.

3. Be Unique

Alt tags should be unique for each image. Using the same alt tag for multiple images can confuse search engines and hinder your website’s indexing and ranking potential.

4. Describe the Image’s Purpose

Alt tags should describe the image’s purpose, rather than what the image looks like. For example, instead of using “red dress” as an alt tag for a picture of a red dress, you can use “buy stylish red dress for women” to describe the purpose of the image.

5. Use Alt Tags for Important Images Only

Not every image on your website needs an alt tag. Use alt tags for important images that provide relevant information or add value to the content. If the image is purely decorative or doesn’t convey any important information, you can leave the alt tag empty.

Wrapping up

Alt tags are an essential element of SEO and should not be overlooked. By using alt tags correctly, you can improve your website’s accessibility, user experience, and ultimately, your rankings on search engine results pages. As an SEO agency working with business owners in Surrey, we understand the importance of using Alt tags correctly and can help optimise your website for better rankings. Contact us today for our Surrey SEO services and let us help you improve your website’s visibility and drive more traffic and conversions.