When it comes to optimising your alt text, many people are unaware of the true advantages of utilising your ‘alternative text’ in SEO. As well as boosting the search engine optimisation of your site, having sufficient text in place can also help to improve your website’s accessibility, which is especially key when it comes to preparing for Google’s Core Web Vitals later next month.
What Is Alt Text?
Though officially known as “alt text”, this small snippet of text can also sometimes be referred to as an “alt tag” or even an “alt description”, somewhat confusing their purpose and what it means. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll be referring to “alt text” as exactly that – alt text. According to Hubspot:
“Alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user’s screen.”
What this means is, if your website fails to load properly on a desktop, handheld or any device for that matter, your alt text will be visible for readers to – you guessed it – read to provide your site (or page) with some context. Essentially, this will help users visiting your site to understand what should be on the screen at time of viewing. Hubspot also describe the text to:
“Help screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allow search engines to better crawl and rank your website.”
What Is Their Importance?
There are numerous reasons why making sure that each of your images has alt text is beneficial, not least for your SEO. Here’s just a handful of benefits of alt text to both you (or your business), your sites SEO and your customers or clients:
- Improves the accessibility of your website.
- Helps search engine crawlers index your images correctly.
- Is displayed if an image file is unable to load.
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How Do I Write Alt Text?
Writing alt text isn’t difficult, but it can sometimes be forgotten in uploading a blog, article or webpage with supporting imagery. I always like to think of it as one of the finer details of any website, pulling your hard work together to make your efforts worthwhile. It can sometimes be surprising just how much of a difference they make!
In a nutshell, you really want to make sure that your alt text accurately represents the image you are using to make sure that, should a user be unable to view the image itself, they are still able to put two and two together.
This alt text really describes what the image is, helping to make it clear for both your prospect customers, existing customers and Google what it’s about.
Of course, whilst it’s important to ensure your alt text is as clear and accurate as possible, it’s also key to make sure it’s not too long. Ideally, you want to aim for it to be around 125 characters long. You also don’t want to over keyword stuff your alt text, as Google may penalise you. Try to include your target keyword and that only. Other key points include:
- Avoiding using images as text, as search engines such as Google won’t be able to read the text within your images.
- Avoiding using “image” or “picture of” at the start of your alt text, as it’s important to assume that your text is also being referred to as an image, so really, you’re just using up your available characters!
- Avoiding form buttons. Use your alt text to describe what action you want users to take such as “Download Now” or “Apply Here”.
- Don’t fear if your image requires a slightly longer, more descriptive description. Why not take a closer look at using the e longdesc=”” tag in replacement of alt text!