And when optimizing for image, all we think of is the size and resolution. We don’t give too much weight in writing compelling and relevant alt attribute.
What we are missing when skipping alt attribute is that we are not able to give a good user experience for screen reader users. These are the type of users that are using a slow internet and can’t load images to their browsers.
Screen readers are able to scan the caption and alt attribute but not the image itself.
So skipping this aspect leaves a small gap that might lead the user to bounce out of the website. You also miss the chance of ranking for image search and organic traffic that goes with it.
So in order for you to fill that gap, here are some techniques and tips on how to write and effective alt image attribute.
Describe the image as if you are writing a Meta Description
Alt attribute is used to describe the what the image is all about to both search engines and users.
So inserting a single word keyword won’t be enough. You can even put up to 6-8 words if necessary in order for you to describe image clearly.
So for example if you have an image of a cat playing with a spoon, your alt tag should go something like this:
src=”http://website.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/alt-300×300.jpg” alt=”My cat Matt Cutts playing with a spoon“
Do not simply put “Cat and a spoon” since it will become irrelevant and Google sees the tag as something relevant to a cat and spoon, not cat playing with a spoon.
And of course, don’t forget to insert at least one keyword to ramp up its relevancy and increase the chances of ranking high in Google Image Search.
Find similar images for inspiration in writing Alt tags
Having a hard time describing your image? Use “Search Google for Image” feature in Chrome!
Right click on the image then select “Search Google for Image” then it will redirect you to Google Image search with similar images.
Searching for identical images can help in your alt attribute writing since it can give you a clear idea on what to put on that element.
You can also check out other image’s alt tags (if they have) and see what can you come up from there. Do not duplicate other alt tags.
Another option is to visit the page where the similar image is located. Sometimes it can lead to an article, news, or a simple how-to content. From there you sneak out some words or sentences that you can rumble to make your own description for your image.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Just like in any element that allows you to insert words.
Over-optimization occurs when the alt tag has lots of keywords in it. It doesn’t describe the image that much and loses its value in the eyes of search engines.
Like I said, you can put a long alt attribute as long as it is done naturally and with perceived value. One keyword is enough and fill it with supporting texts as if you are describing the image to your friend.
Don’t use too lengthy alt text
<img src=”blue-cat-for-sale.jpg” alt=”Blue cat for sale. This breed of cat comes from Columbia and one of the rarest of its kind. It can speak Arabic, Mongolian, and Russian. It can also jump 32 meters high and land without any damage.” />
What do you think to the example above?
Doesn’t make sense, right?
As much as possible make your alt text as brief as you can without sacrificing the quality and relevancy.
Like I said, maximum of 6 to 8 words will do, but the reality is it’s very unlikely that you will reach that long.
Writing a simple, and relevant Alt image tag can make a big difference in optimizing your site for both search engines and users.
Remember to not over-optimized your images as it will do more harm than good.