Not only do our team of super geeks enjoy a good days designing, but we also specialise in search engine optimisation too. One of the questions we get on a nearly daily basis, is “What are you Image Alt Tags?” and “How do we use them?”
Lets start with the first question –
What are Image Alt Tags?
Quite simply the Image Alt (alternative) tag is a written attribute which can be assigned to an image to inform the user what is the image is. Well why on earth would we need this, I hear you say. Good question.
One very important reason for its existence, is to assist the blind in accessing the web. Audio assisted computers often read out the alt tag attribute to its user, to help them understand what content is available on the page they are browsing.
The second main reason, is to assist search engines in understanding a pages content. Though search engines such as Google, Bing and others are becoming more and more sophisticated at understanding and evaluating images, they are not yet able to truly interpret and understand each individual image fully. So in turn search engines use image alt tags to gain a fuller understanding of what an image is of, and why its been placed within that content.
So does this mean we can use them to our advantage? Of course. And though this is true, there are a few ground rules which must first be obeyed in order for alt tags to be used successfully.
1) Be concise
Don’t go over the top with your text. Try to sum up what your image is about in no more than 6 to 7 words. Here are some example descriptions –
- A dog – too short
- A small brown dog – much better
- A small brown dog with bright red collar, little white spotty feet and 2 ft in height. – way too long.
2) Keep it contextual
If your image is a picture of a dog, write the alt text about a dog, not about the fact you are actually a vet. It is far better to have a range of natural image alt tags, with one or two including your relevant keywords in, than all your images talking about the fact your a vet. Trust us Google already know your keywords.
3) Don’t spam it
Yes inserting relevant keywords in Alt tags can assist in keyword ranking, but please don’t over do it. Though search engines do take these into account, they are also well aware of the practising of over optimising images to assist with key word rankings. Most websites nowadays include a large range of images on each and every page. Do not make the mistake of including keywords or the same keywords on each and every image.