Have you ever performed a Google image search, and the results didn’t quite add up to what you were expecting? Sure, the first dozen rows of images that come up for the term “french bulldog wearing glasses” are exactly that: cute dogs with glasses, but scroll down a few pages and you’ll start seeing completely unrelated images.
Because Google can’t “crawl” images like it does text, it has to use information hidden within the website’s code to determine the content of the image. This information is known as the image’s “alt text,” and it’s an important part of on-page search engine optimization that you can’t afford to miss!
Harnessing the Power of the Alt Tag to Boost Your Search Ranking
When users search with the Google Images feature, they’ll see hundreds of images that Google believes relates to their search query. Google looks at three main things to determine the context of an image and its relevancy to a user’s search query.
- The image’s file name.
- The alt text included in the image’s HTML code.
- The text surrounding the image on the page (including captions, descriptions and text content body).
Consistency is key to ensuring your images appear for the right search terms. If you’re writing a blog on how to make cute costumes for your dog and include an image named “hockeygame.jpg” with the alt text “my son’s hockey game” that shows a hockey rink, you’ll be sending Google mixed messages about the purpose of your page. Are you trying to instruct people on how to make cute costumes for their dog, or are you showing off your son’s hockey team?
The bottom line is that people use more than just Google’s web search to find content on the Internet. In many cases, users looking for a certain image of something may use Google image search first to locate what they want visually, and then use the image search results to click through to the full website where the image is featured.
This is potential web traffic that you might be missing out on if you don’t have your image alt text optimization game on point!
How to Optimize Your Images with Alt Tags
There are several ways to add alt tags to your images, depending on your method of web design. It’s simple if you use a platform like WordPress — when you go to add an image, it gives you options to rename the image file, add a caption and most important, add an alt tag.
If your website is hand-coded, you’ll want to code the alt tag into your image HTML like so.
<.img src=”/images/bailey.jpg” alt=”Bailey, the French Bulldog puppy”.>
Remember that not all images need to have alt text. Images that are purely for decoration, like designer page breaks or graphic borders, don’t need alt text, and the HTML can be left as simply alt=” ” or left out completely from the image tag.
Even Google’s SEO Guides Promote Alt Tag Optimization!
If you’ve ever read Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, you may recall that one of their steps for good page optimization is all about images. The guide points out images can be optimized two ways: the file name and the alt tag. Check out this Matt Cutts video for an explanation of why image file names are so important.
Google gives two great arguments for optimizing alt tags in their SEO starter guide: first, they provide users with an idea of what the image should be if it can’t be displayed for some reason, and second, they allow users to identify the image if they use accessibility technology like a screen reader program.
Bonus tip: If you hyperlink images on your page, then the alt text of the image works like the anchor text for that link. This will help you take advantage of the same anchor text you used in your text content without repeating the anchor text and link multiple times in the body!
Let We Do Web Content Show You How to Optimize Your Website
From web content to images, every aspect of your website can benefit from a good, thorough optimization by SEO professionals! Let We Do Web Content give your site a once-over and reveal the areas where you could pull in a ton more visitors! Just call or fill out our contact form to find out all about our search engine optimization services: 888-521-3880.