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How to Write Alt Text for Images for SEO

One of the most overlooked and underutilized aspects of SEO is alt text. Alt-text is simply an alternate version of a web page’s image content. The best way to describe it would be as a “textual description” for images on your site. Search engine crawlers view these descriptions when they index your website pages, which means that if you don’t include them, then the crawler will not understand what the picture is about.

WordPress Alt Text for Image

Screenshot showing the WordPress backend with the field for alt text.

Strategies for How to Write Alt Text for Images for SEO

Read on to learn why you should use alt text and discover some strategies for how to write alt texts for images for SEO so that you can get the most out of all your pictures.

Why You Should Use Alt Text For Images

Alt-text is a valuable tool for web designers that allows them to provide an alternate description of their images and help search engines index the content. The alt attribute on image tags tells crawlers what they are looking at by providing a description, rather than just using its filename as a label. This also helps ensure accessibility users can access your site more easily from any device.

If you have an image on a blog post that says ‘this is a panda’ then when somebody searches for pandas in Google’s search engine they will find your site and can see the picture. When there are no alt tags, search engines do not know what the image is about. If your site gets traffic from social media then it’s important to describe the picture there too. The alt text and descriptions should be different on each platform because they serve two different purposes – one helps people find you in Google searches, while the other is to help people find your image on their own social media feed.

Tips For Writing Good Alt Text

Writing alt text can be challenging, but with a few tips, it’s easy! Here are some tips on how to write alt text for images for SEO:

  • BE DESCRIPTIVE – Use a descriptive word or phrase that explains what is happening. For instance, if the image is a picture of a cute puppy wearing sunglasses, you could write something like “Cute Puppy in Sunglasses” or “Dog Wearing Aviator Style Sunglasses.”Using descriptive words and phrases that accurately describe what’s happening will help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. The more descriptive you are, the more relevant your blog post will be to readers.If you want people searching for “cute puppies” to find your blog post about pictures of cute puppies, you need to have text in the image that tells them what they are looking at.
  • AVOID COMMON WORDS – Don’t use common words like “image” or “photo.” Using these words can cause confusion for people with vision impairments, and it’s a good idea to avoid using too many short phrases because they don’t help your SEO efforts. Instead, use specific words and phrases that accurately describe the image. For instance, if you’re writing about a picture of a dog in sunglasses on top of an open book on grass, you could write “Dog wearing aviator style sunglasses lying atop an open book set against green grass.”
  • BE CONCISE – When figuring out how to write alt text for images for SEO, you should also avoid using words that don’t accurately describe the image. For example, if you’re talking about a photo containing five friends wearing sunglasses and holding beers in front of a hotel pool, there’s no need to use the word “group” because it doesn’t explain the image. Instead, you could write, “A picture of five friends wearing sunglasses and holding beers in front of a hotel pool”. For even better results, add words that describe what is happening like “Five friends pose for a photo while holding drinks at a resort” or something similar.
  • CHECK FOR ACCURACY – Don’t just describe what you think they will see in the image, but also include important details such as who is pictured and where it was taken. Be sure to use correct punctuation as well. For example, you could write “A picture showing a dog wearing sunglasses on green grass with blue sky visible behind trees in the background.” Remember that SEO is about giving Google what they want so they can show accurate results when people search for information.
  • BE CREATIVE – Try to make your alt text more interesting than simply describing what’s in the photo by giving readers an idea of how you felt when taking the picture, why you took it, etc. For instance, if you took a picture of your friend on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, at sunset and it’s being used for an image search about travel destinations that are romantic or places where people can use their phones to take good pictures–you could write something like “A beautiful photograph taken by my friend on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France at sunset. This is a picture about romantic places that are good for taking pictures.” You could also write “A photo taken by my friend who traveled to Europe and visited Paris, France where she climbed up the Eiffel Tower at sunset. This would be useful for image searches about the Eiffel Tower, romantic places to visit and traveling.
  • KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET – Avoid using complex grammar structures or long phrases because this can confuse some users who rely on screen readers to access web content. Use familiar words – users may not understand specific or complex vocabulary. Keep it relevant – the alt text should describe what’s in the picture, so if you can relate your image to your content (for example: an article about dogs) then go for it! Keep key information like this within the first few sentences, though. Avoid using numbers and bullet points inside the alt text – users may have a hard time understanding information if it’s written as a list or in bullet points. If you want to use numbers, try writing out the number sentence instead (i.e don’t write “three tips for alt text,” rather write something like: “Here are three things that make a good alt tag”).
    Don’t forget to include your keyword – if you’re writing alt text for images that are relevant to your post, then the image is a good place for you to weave in keywords. You can do this by using simple phrases like “this dog park has space for dogs of all sizes” or just including the term directly (i.e. “dog park”).
  • REVIEW YOUR WORK – Look at it from the perspective of the reader to make sure you’ve included all important details and that it accurately describes what’s in the image. Remember, Google might not show certain results if your alt text is too generic or doesn’t give enough information about the image. 

Final Thoughts on How to Write Alt Text for Images for SEO

Following these tips on how to write alt text for images for SEO is simple but critical. It will help your site rank higher in website searches, and ultimately, drive more traffic to your website.

Next time you upload an image to your website or blog post, be sure to include the appropriate alt text so that Google can understand what’s on the picture when it crawls your content. And don’t forget about social media! Alt-text is also important there too – make sure they’re clear and concise for all platforms like Facebook posts or Instagram captions with hashtags.