One of the most common missing items in a complete website optimization effort are the alt tags. A quick adjustment can be all that is needed to turn a good optimization effort into a great way. They are quick and easy to adjust as well, which means you can quickly improve your rankings with just a few keystrokes.
Important Tips to Optimizing Alt Tags
What are alt tags? They are the words that are used to describe an image that has been uploaded to your website.
1. Why are alt tags necessary?
Most people aren’t every going to see the alt tags, which is why this SEO best practice is often ignored. The only problem is that there may be times when the alt tags are the only thing that is seen on the site. When an internet users has low bandwidth available or the website doesn’t load responsively like it should, the alt tags provide descriptive information about the image in place of the image itself.
2. What do most websites do with their alt tags?
Most websites don’t do anything with alt tags. They upload an image, place it on the page or within a blog post, and then go on to their next task. This means when a cursor is hovering over the image, the user is going to see the file name for the image and nothing more. If the alt tags are used, then a simple description is often the outcome. A picture with the file name “blueflower.jpg” would have an alt tag of “blue flower.”
3. Do search engines even bother to use alt tags?
Think of an alt tag like a name tab on a folder in a traditional file cabinet. Without those name tabs being filled out, you’ll still have access to the files, but it will take you extra time to search through them for that one piece of information that you need. That’s how search engines see alt tabs. A specific description helps a search engine better catalog the image that has been indexed.
4. Will stock images benefit from alt tags?
All images benefit from the inclusion of alt tags. You might be using a stock image site or a royalty free image and there might be an alt tag already included in your upload, but don’t settle for the upload and go method of web design. Change the alt tag to be reflective of what you’re talking about. Instead of “blue flower,” make the alt tag “best blue flower for a bouquet.”
5. Is there a limit to the amount of words in an alt tag?
Most search engines are only going to recognize about 8 words at most. It will be less if you’re using longer words like “disestablishment.” Focus on the top longtail keywords that are hitting for your site and fit them into the alt tag when it makes sense. Try to stay away from generic keywords because the optimization impact is going to be minimal.
6. Will alt tags cause a website to be market with keyword stuffing?
As with anything, be judicious about how you are using keywords and all other optimization methods. Search engines today are very conscious of black hat SEO efforts. They want to see things that are valuable instead of things that scam people out of valuable time. If a keyword makes sense to use, then use it. If not, then write a specific description of the picture that makes sense for the content. Here’s the beauty of doing that: the description itself becomes an organic keyword for your website.
7. Is it beneficial to link images and use alt tags?
Under current algorithms, alt tags that are with linked pictures are essentially treated as anchor text. Good anchor text provides value to a website visitor, which means it gives an optimization boost to the website.
8. Is there a guarantee that alt tags will work for my site?
As with any SEO effort, optimization takes time and there are no guarantees. Most domains see a boost when alt tags are optimized simply because it creates a better overall user experience. The goal here is to make it easier for Google to locate specific information that users need and then present that information to them. Do that consistently and you’re more likely to be found.
Alt tags only take a few moments to adjust. If you have thousands of images already uploaded on your site, then the process could take some time, but it is a process that is worth undertaking. That’s because they help people to find what they are seeking.