Every single day, more than 1 billion (billion with a B) searches happen on Google Images. If you aren’t writing proper ALT text for your images – ALT text that will give your pager boost in the SEO department – you’re missing out on a ton of traffic.
Learning how to write ALT text for images for SEO purposes, though, is really pretty simple and straightforward. You need to come in under 125 characters, you need to be as descriptive as possible, and you need to be sure that you don’t keyword stuff and you are going to be all right.
In the rest of this detailed guide we run through (almost) everything you need to know about carefully crafting the best ALT text for images from here on out.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Is ALT Text Important for SEO Anymore?
There are some in the search engine optimization community that feel that ALT text isn’t anywhere near as important or as influential as it used to be in the past.
We can tell you – definitively – that nothing could be further from the truth.
ALT text is still a huge piece of the search engine optimization puzzle.
Not just because there are north of 1 billion searches happening in Google Images alone these days (reason enough to optimize your ALT text), but because of the importance and prevalence of mobile browsers, too.
As mobile browsers – and mobile browsing in general – become more and more popular the importance of highly optimized ALT text grows exponentially.
Even with today’s perfectly built in carefully coded websites the potential for something “going sideways” with mobile image display – and your ALT text showing up instead – is pretty high.
Dial it in (especially since it doesn’t take much to get this right) and you won’t have to worry about that!
How to Write ALT Text for Images for SEO
Mastering how to write multi text for images (especially for SEO purposes) is really a pretty simple and straightforward process.
There aren’t a lot of rules. It isn’t going to take you a lot of time to master. And once you get the feel for it you’ll be able to do all kinds of ALT text on your website – almost on autopilot – every time you add new images to your content.
Our SEO Toronto Company includes alt text optimization as part of our packages. Reach out if you need some assistance!
Come in Under 125 Characters
The most important thing you need to keep in mind when writing ALT text is that it has to come in under 125 characters or isn’t going to be useful at all.
Search engine spiders and other screen reading tools aren’t able to read beyond 125 characters. Long-winded strings of alternative text aren’t going to help you generate any real search engine optimization (or any real tangible value with human readers, either).
Stay under 125 characters, though, and you’ll be good as gold!
Be as Descriptive -and Specific - as Possible
One of the worst things you could do when crafting ALT text for SEO purposes is starting off with your alternative text describing that you are describing an image!
Try not to kick things off with “this is a picture of” or something similar. You’re wasting space, killing characters you can use for keywords instead, and generally just not helping your human readers – or search spiders, for that matter.
Instead, be very descriptive and jump right into the meat of things. If you have put up a picture for baseball, for example, say that it’s a baseball. You don’t need to overthink this too much!
Contextualize the Page Topic
Of course, it’s valuable to contextualize the image with the rest of your content on that page when you have the opportunity to do so.
Share why this picture was included, how it ties in thematically, and why it’s relevant to the rest of the content that you’ve put on the page itself.
This will go a long way for your human readers but also help your search engine spiders figure out what this page is all about, what keywords are likely to be most relevant, and how to rank you from there.
Lightly Sprinkle Keywords into ALT Text
When you are looking to write ALT text for your images (specifically for SEO purposes) you have to make sure that you take a light touch with your keywords.
Google – now more than any other time – is very aggressive in taking punitive actions against folks that stuff their keywords all over the place.
Unless you want your content to get shuffled to the back of the line in the Google results because of overstuffed keywords you want to make sure that only one image per page has keywords in the ALT text.
Any more than that and you’ll find yourself in a bit of hot water.
So there you have it – a simple, straightforward, and pretty streamlined approach to mastering ALT text for your images when you are doing on page search engine optimization.
As we highlighted earlier, you don’t need to go crazy with ALT text.
This is something you want to do to improve your on page optimization for sure, but you want to first and foremost think about how this ALT text works to best serve your human readers if (for a variety of different reasons) your image isn’t displayed.
If you’re looking to get started, do a basic audit of your website and just sort of see what your ALT text looks like right now.
The odds are pretty good you’ll find a whole bunch of spots that can use improvement, particularly if this text is generated by the CMS platform you use (or not generated at all).
Keep the tips and tricks we highlighted above in mind while you tackle ALT text and you’ll be you to get in line with the rest of your search engine optimization goals. You don’t have to spend a lot of time, energy, or effort on this but it is a (relatively) big piece of the success puzzle all the same.
Are you using Squarespace? If so, Check out our article on How to do Squarespace SEO.