You have been optimizing sites utilizing content keywords to increase your search engine rankings. But photos, renderings and videos are considered content. So how effectively are you using image Alt Attributes (a.k.a. Alt Tags or Alt Text) to increase search traffic and image ranking?
The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) sets open Web standards with international member participation. Their guidelines are used by designers, developers, authors and the like who write code or content. One of the more recent updates to W3C’s document, Techniques for WCAG 2.0, considers web content and its accessibility to people with physical, cognitive or neurological disabilities.
In accordance with W3C recommendations the Alt Attribute gives a content description to the image file. So the text provides a visually impaired visitor who uses a screen reader to know what the image portrays. Besides effectively relaying the image to a user who can’t see the image, the Alt Attribute provides another way to increase your site’s ranking because your image description shows up in organic results.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide includes their information about optimizing images and they have some excellent points to make the most of Alt Tags. Here are a few:
- Keep image file name keyword “rich” but not keyword “stuffed”
- Text description should be short and to the point (image descriptions should be in context with the content)
- Use photos of high quality (a great photo keeps user’s interest)
- Image placement (keep image to the top of the page)
- Image size (optimizes page loading speed)
Also keep in mind that some users would first be captivated by the visual image and then use search results to click to the full website that houses that image. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any potential web traffic because your image Alt Attributes are not optimized! In the end, it is all about creating a great user experience that will increase traffic on your site and increase your ranking on the search engines.