You may be optimizing some elements on your websites such as headers and subheaders, content, and meta-descriptions, but not one part, which is also equally important – your images. If you are not using Alt text on your images, you could be missing out on this crucial source of organic traffic despite the SEO efforts you put into your content.
Back in 1998, I started a website of my favorite boy band at the time, Hanson. I look back and the internet in 1998 was nothing like it is today, and I had to learn HTML. I love that I learned it back then because alt text wasn’t foreign to me. However, if an alt text is foreign to you, I hope this guide helps you through what it is, why we use it, and more.
Alt text is an attribute you add to HTML images to describe them in the code. It helps search engines find your website/image. It is sometimes referred to as “alt attributes,” “alt descriptions,” and “alt tags.” Moreover, alt text also helps screen readers in making your website accessible to visually impaired readers. This results in a better visitor experience and increased traffic.
In 1999, W3C published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, which explains how website designers and developers could web content accessible to people with disabilities. Included in the guidelines is “provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.” that being said, the image being used on web pages should include relevant information to its auditory and visual elements.
Let’s say you have a very slow internet connection and you are trying to open a web page. Have you seen a broken link icon while the entire web is not completely loading yet? Together with that icon is the alt text and it is useful in helping web visitors identify what the image is supposed to be all about.
It is worth noting that the proper use of alt text helps Google not only understand what the image is all about but also what the topic of the web page is.
There are two specific reasons to use it.
The key to using it is to avoid keyword stuffing your image and making it look spammy. Keyword stuffing is smashing all keywords into the text. No one will see it, but it doesn’t make it ok because it’ll hurt you in searching.
For example, here’s a picture of kids running.
Good alt text: Kids running in the park on a sunny summer day in casual clothes
Bad alt text with keyword stuffing: kids running, fitness, the name of my gym, cheap kids fitness, the track is the best.
Make sure to be descriptive and specific as possible when describing the image.
Bad description: buildings, river, and trees
Good description: Washington D.C. at the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season with the Rosslyn business district cityscape.
Also, always title your image with a specific name so you can easily find it when mixed in a bunch of photo collections. For the image above, I named it “Washington DC cityscape.”
Because it positively contributes to your SEO doesn’t even mean that you have to use the same keyword in every single image if you have to use multiple images in one content. Using it at least once is enough and make sure that you apply it to one image that most represents your main topic.
It is also essential to use a context that relates to the topic of your blog post. Spell your alt text correctly. Misspellings could make it difficult for search engines to crawl your website.
Still not sure how to describe the image you want to use? I’d love to tell you my secret. It saved my life and time. Got a Canva account? Thankfully, this favorite app of mine has thousands of photo collections and each of them has its respective titles and suggested descriptions! Create your account today and explore how to create beautiful graphics that you can also use for your website images.
Adding it is a process you should be doing in your SEO strategy for your website.
First, look at your blog host and see where it is on your platform. Can’t find it?
Google it “Adding alt text to ___ blog”
Then, check your image editor
Finally, check the HTML view and search for add alt text by adding alt = kids running
If you are using WordPress as your website builder, click on the photo and the option to add an alt text will appear on the right side of the content editor, under settings represented by a gear icon.
Don’t make it too long because searches may exclude your images. Stick with 125 characters.
On the contrary, if you have an image, like an infographic, you may want to add in a longer description.
Every image should have alt text. If you are having a hard time adding it to your image because you can’t think of exactly what you want to say, try this tip:
Close your eyes and picture your image, put yourself in someone’s shoes who can’t see it. Stock photo sites like pexels.com and unsplash.com often put a description of the specific image that you can download on their site.
Don’t use “image of” or “picture of” in your alt text (you’re using up those 125 characters for no reason).
Overall, adding it to your images will help you rank in search engines. Everyone wants a bit more traffic, and adding it can help. Each element on your website contributes to your SEO efforts and alt text is equally important. I hope this helps break down this technical term into a simple, easy-to-read guide.
Need a helping hand to implement all these healthcare SEO tips we shared with you? Contact us.
Janine is a Registered Nurse since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery. She still works at the bedside, as needed. She built Write RN back in 2015 when she started as a freelance writer.
Over the years, and many clients later, she studied marketing, grew her marketing skills, her portfolio (over 200+ pieces), and her business to the agency it is today.
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