Image Alt Text: What It Is, How to Write It, and Why It Matters to SEO

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Today, astir 19% of Google's SERPs show images. That means, contempt your champion SEO efforts, you could still miss retired connected different integrated postulation source: your website's images.

marketer penning image alt text

How do you get successful connected this postulation source? Image alt text. In this piece, we’ll screen really to constitute image alt matter truthful your images rank highly successful hunt engines and thrust traffic.

Table of Contents

  • What is alt text?
  • Why is image alt matter important?
  • How to Add Alt Text to Your Images
  • 3 Image Alt Text Examples
  • Image Alt Text Best Practices
  • How Alt Text Affects SEO

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What is alt text?

Also called alt tags and alt descriptions, alt matter is nan written transcript that appears successful spot of an image connected a webpage if nan image fails to load connected a user's screen. This matter helps screen-reading devices picture images to visually impaired readers and allows hunt engines to amended crawl and rank your website.

Whether aliases not you execute SEO for your business, optimizing your website's image alt matter is your summons to creating a amended personification experience for your visitors, nary matter really they first recovered you.

Why is image alt matter important?

Image alt matter is important for 3 reasons: accessibility, personification experience, and image traffic. Understanding these reasons will thief you constitute effective alt matter for each of your images. Let’s dive in.

Accessibility

In 1999, W3C published its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 to explicate really to make contented much accessible for users pinch disabilities. One of these guidelines was to “Provide balanced alternatives to auditory and ocular content.” It meant immoderate web page pinch images (or movies, sounds, applets, etc.) should see balanced accusation to its visuals aliases auditory content.

First and foremost, descriptive matter alternatives to auditory and ocular contented guarantee everyone tin use from nan contented you share, particularly those pinch ocular impairments who whitethorn usage surface readers to sorb nan contented connected a webpage. An image without a explanation isn’t adjuvant for personification utilizing that exertion and creates a mediocre personification acquisition and, successful immoderate cases, mediocre marque perception.

For example, opportunity a web page contains an image of an upward arrow that links to a array of contents. A matter balanced mightiness beryllium "Go to array of contents.” This would let a personification pinch a surface scholar aliases different assistive exertion to understand nan intent of nan image without seeing it.

In different words, alt matter helps guarantee your ocular contented is accessible to each users, sloppy of their ocular ability.

User Experience

Alt matter promotes accessibility and provides a amended personification acquisition to each users. For example, opportunity a visitant has a debased bandwidth connection, truthful your images don’t load. Instead of conscionable seeing a surgery nexus icon, they’ll besides spot alt matter to glean what nan image conveys.

For example, a personification connected your tract mightiness beryllium capable to spot nan image connected nan left. If they can’t, owed to immoderate reason, they’ll perceive aliases spot nan alt matter connected nan right. This will thief supply a amended personification acquisition than if location were nary alt text.

Image broadside by broadside pinch surgery image icon and descriptive alt matter that sounds 7 afloat java cups connected woody table

Image Source

Image Traffic

Another important point alt matter does for you is aboveground your images successful hunt results, whether successful Google Images aliases arsenic image packs. Image packs are typical results displayed arsenic a horizontal statement of image links that tin look successful immoderate integrated position (including nan #1 spot connected a SERP, arsenic seen successful nan illustration successful nan intro).

And, images that look successful some types of hunt results are yet different measurement to person integrated visitors. This tin consequence successful thousands of much visitors — astatine least, it did successful HubSpot’s case.

Beginning successful 2018, nan HubSpot Blog squad implemented a new SEO strategy that, successful part, focused much intently connected optimizing image alt text. This helped to summation nan blog’s image postulation by 779% successful little than a year, which resulted successful 160,000 much integrated views. You tin publication much astir nan team’s occurrence successful this blog post.

How to Add Alt Text to Your Images

In astir content guidance systems (CMSs), clicking connected an image successful nan assemblage of a blog station produces an image optimization aliases rich matter module, wherever you tin create and alteration nan image's alt text.

Let's locomotion done nan adjacent steps for CMS Hub and WordPress below.

How to Add Alt Text successful nan HubSpot CMS

In HubSpot, erstwhile you’ve clicked connected an image and clicked nan edit icon (which looks for illustration a pencil), an image optimization pop-up container will appear.

Here's what this image optimization model looks for illustration successful nan CMS wrong your HubSpot portal:

Alt matter section wrong Image Optimization pop-up successful CMS Hubs Content Editor

Your alt matter is past automatically written into nan webpage's HTML root code, wherever you tin edit nan image's alt matter further if your CMS doesn't person an easy editable alt matter window. Here's what that alt tag mightiness look for illustration successful an article's root code:

Image alt matter tag highlighted successful nan HTML root codification of a blog station successful CMS Hub

How to Add Alt Text successful nan WordPress CMS

In WordPress, clicking connected an image will automatically unfastened nan Block tab successful nan sidebar. Under nan conception branded "Image Settings,"add nan alt matter successful nan quiet field.

Add alt matter successful Image Settings conception of Block tab successful sidebar of your WordPress dashboard

When you're ready, click Update from nan toolbar astatine nan apical of your screen.

The astir important norm of alt text? Be descriptive and specific. Keep successful mind, however, that this alt matter norm tin suffer its worth if your alt matter doesn't besides see nan image's context. Alt matter tin miss nan people successful 3 different ways. Consider nan examples below.

3 Image Alt Text Examples (the Good and nan Bad)

1. Keyword vs. Detail

Orange mural that says 'ship it' connected a wall astatine HubSpot's Singapore office

Bad Alt Text

alt="HubSpot agency wall Singapore inbound trading workplace murals orangish walls vessel it"

What's incorrect pinch nan statement of alt matter above? Too galore references to HubSpot. Using alt matter to worldly keywords into fragmented sentences adds excessively overmuch fluff to nan image and not capable context. Those keywords mightiness beryllium important to nan publisher, but not to web crawlers.

In fact, nan alt matter supra makes it difficult for Google to understand really nan image relates to nan remainder of nan web page aliases article it's published on, preventing nan image from ranking for nan related longtail keywords that person higher levels of liking down them.

Worst still, Google hands retired penalties for keyword stuffing.

Good Alt Text

With nan bad alt matter (above) successful mind, amended alt matter for this image mightiness be:

alt="Orange mural that says 'ship it' connected a wall astatine HubSpot's Singapore office"

2. Detail vs. Specificity

David Ortiz of nan Boston Red Sox batting from location sheet astatine Fenway Park

Image Source

Bad Alt Text

alt="Baseball subordinate hitting a shot astatine a shot field"

The statement of alt matter supra technically follows nan first norm of alt matter — beryllium descriptive — but it's not being descriptive successful nan correct way. Yes, nan image supra shows a shot section and a subordinate hitting a baseball. But this is besides a image of Fenway Park — and nan Red Sox's #34 David Ortiz clocking 1 complete correct field. These are important specifics Google would request to decently scale nan image if it's on, say, a blog station astir Boston sports.

Good Alt Text

With nan bad alt matter (above) successful mind, amended alt matter for this image mightiness be:

alt="David Ortiz of nan Boston Red Sox batting from location sheet astatine Fenway Park"

3. Specificity vs. Context

Marketing professor pointing to a student's machine surface during a instruction connected alt text

Image Source

Both images supra person clear discourse that tin thief america constitute bully alt matter — 1 is from a HubSpot office, and nan different is Fenway Park. But what if your image doesn't person charismatic discourse (like a spot name) by which to picture it?

This is wherever you'll request to usage nan taxable of nan article aliases webpage to which you're publishing nan image. Here are immoderate bad and bully examples of alt matter based connected nan logic you're publishing it:

For an Article About Attending Business School

Bad Alt Text
alt="Woman pointing to a person's machine screen"

The statement of alt matter supra would usually walk arsenic decent alt text, but fixed that our extremity is to people this image pinch an article astir going to business school, we're missing retired connected immoderate cardinal connection choices that could thief Google subordinate nan image pinch definite sections of nan article.

Good Alt Text

With nan bad alt matter (above) successful mind, amended alt matter for this image mightiness be:

alt="Business schoolhouse professor pointing to a student's machine screen"

For a Webpage connected Education Software for Business School Teachers

Bad Alt Text
alt="Teacher pointing to a student's machine screen"

The statement of alt matter supra is almost arsenic descriptive and circumstantial arsenic nan bully alt matter from nan erstwhile example, truthful why doesn't it suffice for a webpage astir acquisition software? This illustration dives moreover deeper into nan taxable of business school, and specifies that nan perfect assemblage for this webpage is teachers. Therefore, nan image's alt matter needs to bespeak that.

Good Alt Text

With nan bad alt matter (above) successful mind, amended alt matter for this image mightiness be:

alt="Professor utilizing acquisition package to instruct a business schoolhouse student"

Image Alt Text Best Practices

Ultimately, image alt matter needs to beryllium circumstantial but besides typical of nan taxable of nan webpage it's supporting. Get nan thought truthful far? Here are a fewer important keys to penning effective image alt text:

  • Describe nan image, and beryllium specific. Use some nan image's taxable and discourse to guideline you.
  • Add discourse that relates to nan taxable of nan page. If nan image doesn't characteristic a recognizable spot aliases person, past adhd discourse based connected nan contented of nan page. For example, nan alt matter for a banal image of a personification typing connected a machine could beryllium "Woman optimizing WordPress website for SEO" aliases "Woman researching free blogging platforms," depending connected nan taxable of nan webpage.
  • Keep your alt matter less than 125 characters. Screen-reading devices typically extremity reference alt matter astatine this point, cutting disconnected long-winded alt matter astatine awkward moments erstwhile verbalizing this explanation for nan visually impaired.
  • Don't commencement alt matter pinch "picture of..." aliases "Image of..." Jump correct into nan image's description. Screen-reading devices (and Google, for that matter) will place it arsenic an image from nan article's HTML root code.
  • Use your keywords, but sparingly. Only see your article's target keyword if it's easy included successful your alt text. If not, see semantic keywords, aliases conscionable nan astir important position wrong a longtail keyword. For example, if your article's caput keyword is "how to make leads," you mightiness usage "lead generation" successful your alt text, since "how to" mightiness beryllium difficult to see successful image alt matter naturally.
  • Don't cram your keyword into each azygous image's alt text. If your blog station contains a bid of assemblage images, see your keyword successful astatine slightest 1 of those images. Identify nan image you deliberation is astir typical of your topic, and delegate it your keyword. Stick to much artistic descriptions successful nan surrounding media.
  • Review for pronunciation errors. Misspelled words successful image alt matter could wounded nan personification acquisition aliases confuse hunt engines crawling your site. You should reappraisal alt matter for illustration you would immoderate different contented connected nan page.
  • Don't adhd alt matter to each image. You should adhd alt matter to astir images connected a webpage for nan liking of SEO, UX, and accessibility — however, location are exceptions. Images that are purely ornamental aliases are described successful matter nearby, for example, should person an quiet alt attribute. For a much elaborate breakdown of erstwhile to adhd alt matter and erstwhile to not, cheque retired this decision tree.

How Alt Text Affects SEO

According to Google, alt matter is utilized — successful operation on pinch machine imagination algorithms and nan contents of nan page — to understand nan taxable matter of images.

Alt text, therefore, helps Google to amended understand not only what nan images are astir but what nan webpage arsenic a full is about. This tin thief summation nan chances of your images appearing successful image hunt results.

With Google’s rollout of Search Generative Experience (SGE), high-quality and contextual alt matter ensures your contented is successful nan operation of nan caller AI-powered snapshot of cardinal information.

For example, Google notes that its SGE tin springiness group a well-rounded shopping acquisition pinch noteworthy options, merchandise descriptions, pricing, and images successful 1 azygous snapshot. If your merchandise images person descriptive and circumstantial alt text, you springiness hunt engines nan discourse to cognize erstwhile to aboveground your merchandise arsenic a high-quality prime successful someone's results.

When creating contented connected a topic, see really your assemblage mightiness for illustration to find answers to their questions connected that topic. In galore cases, Google searchers don't want nan classical blue, hyperlinked hunt consequence — they want nan image itself embedded wrong your webpage.

For example, a visitant looking up really to region duplicates successful excel mightiness for illustration a screenshot truthful they tin understand really to complete nan task astatine a glance.

Blog station describing really to region duplicates successful Excel includes images pinch alt matter to support content

Image Source

Because this image has optimized alt text, it appears successful image hunt results for nan longtail keyword "how to region duplicates successful excel." Since nan station besides appears successful nan web hunt results for nan aforesaid keyword, visitors could onshore connected nan blog station done these 2 different channels.

Adding Image Alt Text to Your Website

So, wherever do you commencement erstwhile processing alt matter for your blog posts and web pages? Consider performing a basal audit of your existing contented to spot wherever you tin incorporated alt matter into antecedently untagged pictures. Watch to spot really your integrated postulation changes among nan pages that you springiness caller alt tags.

The much images you optimize, nan amended your SEO strategy will beryllium moving forward.

Editor's note: This station was primitively published successful September 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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