As a marketing consultant, I’m often asked to make quick improvements to a website to improve its search engine optimisation (SEO). In this series, I’m sharing 6 tips for improving your SEO without spending a lot of your time and energy. (Hire me if you really can’t be bothered and I’ll do it for you.)
First up, alt text!
What is Alt Text?
Alt is short for alternative. When an image is uploaded to a website, it will have a name: ‘Rover and an ice cream’ or ‘IMG3837’ or suchlike. There is usually also an option to add alternative text to the image. Alt text is supposed to be a description of what’s happening in the image, e.g. ‘dog licking an ice cream’. The text is literally an alternative to the photo, and it’s useful for a couple of reasons.
Why is Alt Text Necessary?
Alt text has two purposes: one, it allows computer software to ‘read’ the image, so if a visually impaired person is having a piece of software read them a blog post or article, the computer ‘reads’ the alt text and informs the reader that there is an image of a dog licking an ice cream.
The second, SEO-related purpose is that alt text allows search engines to ‘read’ the image. So a person who is searching ‘dog ice cream’ on Google should be shown your article, or the image from your article. That’s exactly what they’re looking for, so they click and ta-dah, you’ve got traffic. They want to keep their dog cool in the summer, so they’d like to get dog-suitable ice cream and what a coincidence, that’s just what you sell.
You might also notice that if an image on a webpage won’t load, you will see the alt text instead – so you know what is supposed to be there.
Adding alt text to your pictures won’t magically put you at the top of Google for all the keywords you think your customers are typing in. But using them routinely will help search engines understand what your overall site is about. It’s also an easy, free way of improving your website – so why wouldn’t you do it?
To get in touch about my marketing services, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t feed your dog an entire human ice cream.