An alt tag is an HTML code that is used to describe images that appear on web pages for search engine purposes. Also known as alt description or alt attribute, alt tags help users to understand what the images used in a web page represents in case they cannot see properly. Images are commonly used in content writing so that people are attracted to read the articles.
Using alt tags together with these images can help strengthen your content to web crawlers and improve your ranking on search engine results page. Another benefit is that alt tags can lead to more traffic via Google Images. Another use of alt tags is mentioned in the article below:
The alt tag is used by screen readers, the browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. The title attribute is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element, so in the case of an image button, the button could contain an extra call-to-action, like “Buy product X now for $19!”.Each image should have an alt text. Not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people otherwise won’t know what the image is for. A title attribute is not required. It can be useful but in most cases, leaving it out shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Now that you know what it is, let’s look at the proper use of alt tags.
Best Way to Use Alt Tags
Note that search engines cannot interpret the meaning of images. However, images do play a vital role in how we interpret the content in a web page.
This is achieved when alt tags use text to explain the meaning of a web page to search engines. The alt text helps web crawlers to inspect a web page, index it and rank the website on search engines.
The best way to use alt tags is to keep the text short. If your alt text is longer, it can be a challenge to read it via text browsers. Also, using short text makes it easy for Google to index the web page efficiently.
This video offers more on the importance of using alt tags:
Even though the above video is giving instruction on how to use alt text when building a Wix site, the concept is the same for WordPress or any other website creation software. The key takeaway is to use alt attributes on every image, no matter what.
Avoid using alt tags for keyword stuffing…search engines don’t like that. If the keyword doesn’t make sense when used with the image don’t use it
If you aren’t familiar with keyword stuffing, here is a quote from one of Google’s former search quality team leaders, Matt Cutts, which was posted on WordStream.com:
“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”
Alt Tags and SEO
Although alt tags do play an important role in SEO, you should not prioritize it over derivatives such as meta descriptions, titles, and interlinking. The intended purpose of alt tags is to attract users to a web page.
However, if you use alt tags solely for SEO, you are missing the whole point of alt tags which is to improve accessibility. A good alternative to alt tags is title tags. A title tag basically refers to the title of an image.
When you hover your mouse pointer over the image, it is the title tag which appears. If you don’t want to provide details of an image via caption, you can use the title tag for that purpose. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have more questions about how to use alt tags.