They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what are they worth to your SEO plan? If you’re not taking advantage of alt tags, then their worth is closer is zero; but with properly utilized tags, images are as valuable to SEO as they are to the user experience.
A lot of SEO requires a technical understanding of the language behind web design and how language communicates with search engines, but optimizing your images is an easy way to get the most out your website. For most small to medium sized websites, optimizing images can be accomplished in an afternoon or less; and the SEO payoff is huge.
The best first step toward optimizing your website’s images is to give each a unique alt tag. Let’s look at what that means, how you do it, and how it will benefit your site.
What are Alt Tags?
While most SEOs and web designers call them alt-tags, technically they are alt attributes given to an image tag. But don’t let that deter you, there is very little technical knowledge necessary for adding alt attributes (especially if you’re using a blogging platform like WordPress). I’ll follow the common convention and call them alt tags to avoid any possible confusion.
Primarily, alt tags aren’t for SEO. They explain image content for those that cannot view them – like those running text-only browsers or screen readers for the visually impaired. Because of this, it is important to use accurate alt tags and not just stuff them for keywords. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot use keywords in your alt tags – just do it in a natural way (good advice for any keyword usage).
How to Add Alt Tags
The best time to add alt tags to images is as you upload them to your site. If you’re running a blog on WordPress, then adding alt tags is easy and available directly from the image uploader. But if you are looking to add alt tags to an existing site, you’ll need access to the back-end. A step-by-step guide to editing your site’s code is beyond the scope of this article, but either ask your web designer or look at one of the various tutorials available online.
Here’s a basic image tag example (taken from Google as an example of a good alt-tag):
<img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”>
In this case, the alt tag is ‘Dalmatian puppy playing fetch.’ Google identifies it as a great alt tag example because it gives a detailed description of the image’s content while also providing SEO value (assuming the page is about Dalmatians, puppies, or playing fetch).
Hopefully, your images correlate directly to your website’s content – so the best practice for adding alt tags is to honestly describe what is the picture. It may be tempting to keyword stuff your alt tags, but Google warns against such tactics. In the webmaster article linked above they give the follow as an example of what to avoid:
<img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy dog baby dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food”/>
It is perfectly ok to include keywords in your alt tags, just make sure you do it in a natural and organic way, or else you run the risk of getting a penalized by the search engines.
A successful SEO campaign will optimize a wide range of on-page (images, headers, title tags, meta descriptions, etc.) and off-page (links, social media, etc.); and to get the most out of your website takes an extensive strategy implemented consistently. But optimizing images is low-hanging fruit that every website owner should take advantage of.
If you’re ready to get the most of your website, consider a monthly SEO plan from Fusion Group USA. We can handle everything: the quick tips, the technical fixes, and the off-site link building. And we have plans that fit any budget while guaranteeing you see the results you want! Contact us today to set up a free, no-commitment consolation today.