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Alt Text – A Picture Is Worth 5 -15 Words of SEO
We’d all like to rank #1 when potential customers use a search engine to find our products or services, but are we doing everything possible to achieve this? Basic search engine optimization recommendations will suggest using your keyword phrase as a common thread throughout your page.
If a web page is rich with content, but does not incorporate images, many people might pass it by simply because it can be difficult to read. Many recent studies have found that “visual content” which can refer to content within an image or use of images throughout content, is more effective than text-only content. Here are some reasons why:
- Visuals help grab people’s attention
- Pictures can effect people at the emotional level
- Images can be processed faster than text
- Visuals tend to drive more shares, likes and overall engagement
- Images can be an influential piece of the SEO strategy
Let’s focus on the fourth item listed above and analyze the best ways to use images as part of the SEO strategy.
How can we use images to impact search results?
We can drive web crawlers and search engines to our images through the use of alternate text, commonly known as Alt Text. Although search engines cannot see images, they can index the alt text that we use to describe them, and in that text we have an opportunity to ingrain relevance into our page and make images work to our advantage.
We recommend that alt text for an image should be short, usually between 5 and 15 words. It is a best practice to keep descriptions brief so keep things simple and incorporate keyword phrases into the alt text. If too much text is included, the pages will take longer to load. Although the difference may seem negligible, shorter pages load faster, and load speed is an important component to SEO. We don’t want to negate any search benefit that we might create by slowing the page load time.
Keep in mind that the primary purpose of alt text is to define the images for readers if the pictures should fail to load. Most images will be relevant to the page subject, so if alt text is centered on the keyword phrase, then images, alt text and keyword phrase will tie together.
The best part of this strategy is that most keyword phrases are only 2 or 3 words long. They will easily fit into alternative text and as long as the text is relevant, they will be seen as descriptive rather than keyword stuffing by search engines. If an image says “Register Now!”, you should include those words in your alt text, but it’s not a requirement, and overall is less important than including the keyword phrase for the page.
Do We Add Alt Text to Every Image?
Alt text is not a repository for keyword phrases, and not every image is an opportunity to use this strategy. For example, icons and bullets are often used purely for web page aesthetics. Use a blank alt attribute (alt= “ “) as these are not images from a technical standpoint and should not be treated as such. Using this technique is considered much better than leaving the alt text empty or blank.
By taking advantage of image alt text you can create an opportunity for search engine relevance.
For more information or a free consultation on how to improve your website’s SEO, contact us today.