Why Bother With Alt Text?

Alt text. What even is it? Who cares? Well, Google cares and for SEO, that is pretty much all you need to know. 

Alt text (formally known as alternative text) is simply the description of an image on a page. Pretty simple, right? It is, and simple is the best way to think of it. Describe an image as accurately as you can, as simply as you can. In case you get confused, alt text can also be known as:

  • Alt attributes
  • Alt descriptions
  • Alt tags (technical description)

All of the names pretty much mean the same thing, just some people choose to name it differently. 

Don’t Skip It

Alt-text is used within the HTML code to outline the appearance and function of an image. It is used for:

  • Search engine crawlers – Alt text quickly describes to Google the image that is being displayed. Google likes clarity. It helps crawlers to index a page and image fully, with the context and description being clear.
  • Accessibility – It is also vital for users who might have disabilities, such as visual impairments. If the user can’t see the image, they can use screen readers to describe it. 
  • Dodgy internet – Alt text will be displayed in replacement of an image if the image file isn’t loading. 

All of the above work together for the good of search engine optimisation, which is ultimately what we want in the world of SEO.

Leave out the Alt Text Stuffing

In days of old, alt text might have been a perfect opportunity to stuff in your keywords and try to rank on search results a little better. However, this is not now the recommended method as Google does not reward cutting corners. Alt text should simply be the most accurate description of an image as you can think of. 

Below are examples of good alt text, and not so good alt text. The key is to be as to the point, but descriptive as possible. 

Not so good – <img src=”jacket.png” alt=”jacket”

Good – <img src=”jacket.png” alt=”light blue denim jacket with rolled sleeves”

How does Alt Text help my website?

Alt-text isn’t just there to look clever, it holds purpose for optimising your website. Along with optimised file naming, alt text can help to boost your overall image SEO. Whilst we don’t want to stuff, it does offer opportunities to include your keyword and help search engines to see exactly what you are displaying. 

On-page keyword usage holds a large amount of weight when it comes to search engine ranking factors, so images can be the perfect way to maximise on this. 

Top Tips for Good Alt Text

To summarise, here are some of the key factors to think about when writing your alt text.

  • Describe your images specifically
  • Keep it concise (roughly under 125 characters)
  • Make use of keywords
  • Don’t state the obvious (search engines know it’s an image, that part doesn’t need stating – just say what the image is)
  • Button it up (image buttons need clear labelling as much as regular images)
  • Don’t stuff it up (with keywords)

Get in Touch

If you still want to learn more about alt text and indeed anything SEO related, please get in touch with the Lightbox Digital team and we will be able to help you boost your digital marketing journey.