The Google Images service was launched in 2001 as an addition to the Google search engine. It allows users to find images related to the search subject on the Internet.
“The relevance of an image vis-à-vis the keywords entered by the user is assessed on the basis of parameters such as the filename or the text placed around the image in the original page” –Wikipedia Google Images
Since launching, the Google Images search engine has become a source of valuable organic traffic. The SEO of your images is therefore a factor to consider in your SEO strategies. This article looks more specifically at the optimisation of the alt attribute.
Definition of the alt attribute: what is it for?
The alt attribute is an HTML tag supplying text that can stand for an image. It indicates the contents of the visual if it cannot be displayed.
The alt attribute is presented like this in the HTML code of a page:
<img alt=” text”>
Example of a basic alt attribute:
<img src = ” black-cat.jpg” alt = ” black cat”>
Why is the alt attribute important?
The purpose of the alt attribute is to describe an image in a simple and optimal way to a user who cannot see it. Display problems may be related to a technical issue such as an error in the src attribute. They may also occur if, for example, a visually impaired user is using a screen reader solution. Beyond its SEO objectives, the alt attribute is therefore the spearhead of Web accessibility for all, regardless of disability. Accessibility is important for developers who want to create quality websites and an optimal user experience.
Whatever the reason, be it technical or individual, adding an alt attribute ensures that all users of your site can enjoy its content and enjoy the same user experience.
2) Image SEO
In addition to improving the user experience and accessibility to your site, the alt attribute can increase your organic traffic through SEO. Search engine technologies may well be superbly complex and highly evolved, but they have not yet given their crawlers the gift of vision, and crawlers cannot really “see” an image. They can only read the text part (the source code) behind each site. Missing off an alt attribute is a risky business, as the image may end up ranked against a completely different keyword.
What should an alt attribute contain? How to optimise image SEO
The alt attribute must be a sufficient description of the image, without including malicious keywords. A good way to check whether your alt attribute is an effective one is to close your eyes, ask someone to read the tag, and visualize the image in your head.
Let’s look at an example with these pancakes:
Ineffective alt attribute:
<img src=” pancakes.jpg ” alt=”pancakes”>
This alt attribute is insufficient because it describes the image too vaguely. Yes, they are pancakes, but what kind? Sweet or savoury? And what topping are they served with? Maple syrup, lemon, chocolate? Think of a user who cannot see the picture, and describe it comprehensively.
Just-adequate alt attribute:
<img src=”pancakes.jpg.jpg” alt=”banana pancakes”>
This alt attribute is acceptable, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Optimised alt attribute:
<img src=”pancakes.jpg” alt=”Pancakes with banana and chocolate chips”>
This alt attribute is optimised because it perfectly describes the image presented. It’s not just a pancake, it’s pancakes with bananas… And chocolate chips! Yum yum! If the description made your mouth water, you’re onto a winner!
Alt attribute to avoid:
<img src=”pancakes.jpg” alt=””>
<img src=”pancakes.jpg” alt=” best recipe pancakes banana chocolate breakfast maple syrup”>
How to add an alt attribute to an image via WordPress
Nothing could be easier! Add your image and the option is in the image settings. Like so:
To delve a bit deeper :
- Google has published instructions for good image referencing, you can view them by clicking here.
- Our SEO and Visual Listening teams are SEO experts and can support you in your visual-based projects. Don’t hesitate to send us a message if you would like to know more about our services.
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