One valuable element of a successful SEO strategy that companies may overlook is image alt text. If you’re not optimizing your images with alt text when appropriate, you’re missing out on a good opportunity to boost visibility in search engines. While some advise businesses to optimize all of their images with alt text, this isn’t necessarily required. There are times when it’s best to optimize your alt text to improve performance, while other images may not benefit from alt text at all.
What Is Image Alt Text?
Alternative text, i.e. alt text, is a feature included with some images on websites. It’s somewhat similar to a caption, but its core functionality is to make images more accessible to visually impaired users. Unlike captions that may visibly describe on the website what’s in an image for all users, image alt text is exclusively visible on search engines to users when searching for images using text descriptions. Captions may also enhance and give additional context to images, while alt text merely describes the literal elements contained within the image. For instance, a stock image of a boy playing with a dog might include the alt text: “boy with yellow ball playing fetch with golden retriever.”
Well-optimized alt text not only tells users what the image contains, but it also indicates more explicitly to Google what’s in the image, which can positively impact rankings in image search results. As a result, images with descriptive alt text have a better chance of appearing in search engines over images that don’t include this feature.
When It’s Worth Adding Image Alt Text to Your Website
Ultimately, if you’re trying to determine whether you need to add alt text to images on your website, there are certain factors to consider. Generally, you should only feel compelled to add image alt text if it will help attract more leads and increase your online revenue.
As you make your decision regarding alt text, think about how alt text could influence the buyer’s journey and lead customers toward a sale. For instance, alt text optimization might be worthwhile if people begin their journey with a Google or Google Image search. If people enter certain search terms pertaining to your products and seek images of them on Google, users may select those images in search results, taking them to your website.
In other words, if your website’s images could bring prospective customers to your website via Google Images, you’re often better off optimizing alt text. Otherwise, you should spend more time on other SEO elements that drive better results. There are often many other types of content worth prioritizing over image optimization, but if you find it necessary, and you have the time and resources to devote to it, image alt text is frequently a good asset to have in your marketing toolkit.
Deciding Factors to Consider for Optimizing Image Alt Text
When determining whether it makes sense to optimize image alt text, there are certain factors to think about. To start with, figure out which type of business you run and whether you can actually attract customers through image searches. It all comes down to search intent. If your primary customer base is unlikely to come from any type of Google image results, you may not want to spend any time on alt text. On the other hand, if you find that prospects do look for images of products that can lead them to a sale through your website, it’s time to start researching the opportunities available to you.
Typically, your company will benefit from alt text if:
- You sell physical or digital products as opposed to services.
- Prospects search for products with high-volume keywords that can lead to high conversion rates.
- Products are sufficiently original to stand out from competitors when searching for them.
If your business meets these criteria, you’ll likely benefit from optimizing your images.
As you begin the optimization process, you need to look into viable keywords that you can use to optimize your images. Make sure the keywords you look for feature a high monthly search volume and ensure that they’re relevant to your specific products. It pays to optimize product images with unique alt text, especially if your products are unique enough to stand apart in image search results. Otherwise, you can avoid optimizing images that don’t make sense from a sales standpoint, such as the aforementioned stock image of a boy playing with his dog.
Best Practices for Writing Image Alt Text
As you optimize your alt text, there are some steps you can take to get the most from it for each image. These alt text best practices include:
Be Highly Specific
When optimizing your images and describing them, be as specific as you can get. If your product includes unique features or components that make it stand out, or if you can specify brand and model, you’ll be able to differentiate your product from others in search results.
Avoid Including Extraneous Text
In your alt text, you’ll never need to begin the description with “image of” or any similarly unnecessary text. Simply describe the contents of the image.
Keep Alt Text Concise
Your alt text should avoid going over 125 characters in length. After this point, most screen-reading software tends to stop reading the text to the user. The shorter and more specific, the better.
Make Each Image Unique
If you have multiple images of the same product, or many images of similar products, make their alt text unique. Try different keyword variations that maximize your reach on search engines, and avoid creating duplicate alt text that might cannibalize your images.
Decide if Optimizing Image Alt Text Is Right for Your Business
Oftentimes, businesses will benefit from taking the time to optimize their image alt text. When done right, this optimization task can help customers find products via image searches in addition to text search results. However, you may not have the staff or energy required to get the most from these efforts.
If you would like help with optimizing image alt text along with many other aspects of your SEO strategies, it helps to have experienced experts by your side. To learn more about how the dependable team at Vigor Seorchers can help you with a custom marketing solution, reach out to us today.
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