As an SEO agency, we frequently emphasize the importance of SEO and its transformative potential for your business. However, it’s crucial to recognize that in addition to textual content, Image SEO holds a significant role in your overall marketing strategy.
Image search, in itself, represents a substantial opportunity capable of driving significant traffic to your website. Image SEO goes beyond mere Alt text optimization; there are numerous practices you can do to excel in image search.
This article will delve into the proven best practices for utilizing ALT text in SEO. We’ll also share actionable steps and insights from a recent Google Office-hours hangout, where Google’s John Mueller provided valuable guidance on optimizing alt text for SEO.
Let’s start with understanding Alt tags,
“Alt text,” also known to as an “alt tag,” holds a pivotal role in web accessibility, but its significance extends beyond that—it can contribute to improved search engine rankings (SEO) for your website. Even though most of your audience may never directly view this ‘hidden’ information, image alt text serves as crucial metadata that conveys essential content details to search engines like Google, ensuring that your content reaches the right audience during online searches.
Image alt text is used to describe what is in an image for those who use a screen reader to view a website.
A screen reader is an assistive technology that, among other things, allows people with visual impairments to access web content.
The screen reader reads computer documents aloud so that those who are accessing them can hear what is being written.
John Mueller addressed a question asked to him, he said that the question was:-
“Google said that there’s a maximum of 16 words that you can use in your alt text.
And the question is, does Google read the rest of my alt text, and what does this mean for usability?”
To this, Mueller answered the question:
“And I think the important part here is we don’t have any guidelines with regards to how long your alt text can be.
So from a Google Search point of view, you can put a lot of things in the alt text for an image, if that’s relevant for that particular image.”
The point that he mentioned about the 16 words limit is baseless and is not something imposed by google, Search engine journal says that this might be a result of an SEO test because Google is designed to rank actual words and is not designed to rank gibberish. So, you cannot just write anything and assume your website to rank.
How does Google use alternative text in images and how it is helpful in all over SEO of your business?
John Mueller said :
“When it comes to the alt text, we primarily use that to better understand the image.
So if someone is searching …in Google Images for something that kind of matches the alt text then we can use that to understand that your image is relevant for that alt text on that specific page.
That’s kind of the primary use case of the alt text.
We do also use the alt text as a part of the page. But that to me, that’s usually something that is already visible on the page anyway.
So it’s less something that is critical to the page itself.
So I would really use it as something that applies to the image and I would use it for usability and for Google Images to better understand that specific image.”
“And I think what might also be worth mentioning is when it comes to Google images, you don’t necessarily need to describe exactly what is in the image.
But rather, kind of like what this image means for your particular page.
So if you have a picture of a beach, you could use alt text and say, Oh this is a beach.
But you could also say, this is the beach in front of our hotel or this is the beach that we took a photo of when we were doing a chemical cleanup.
And kind of those intents are very different and people would be searching in different ways in Google Images to find more information there. And giving that extra context always makes sense, in my opinion.”
Employing best practices for alt text is akin to describing a scenic view to someone with visual impairments. Just as you would detail the positions, elements, and colors while providing context to the image, alt text serves as the contextual information for ideas.
Google’s future vision revolves around advancing visual search, a journey that commenced with the complete overhaul of Google Images a few years ago.
Alt text can enhance your website’s SEO performance by enriching a web page with pertinent signals, thereby aiding Google in gaining a more profound comprehension of an image’s content and subsequently improving its ranking.