Today we discuss alt image text. What is it, what’s it good for, how you do you decipher what needs it and what doesn’t have it: all will be covered.
You know me, I don’t know you, but I have an idea of who you are and why you are here. I am Zane, a marketing assistant at TSR and a beginner when it comes to SEO chronicling my journey through it. You should already know this, I imagine, as I’ve done it for the past couple months, but if not, welcome!
As mentioned before, today we are discussing alt image text, so without further ado, let’s jump in.
What is Alt Image Text?
Alt image text is text that you attributue to an image that briefly describes what that image depicts. It’s primary use is to aid the visually impaired understand web pages and travel through the internet with a level of ease and understanding and make the world wide web far more accessible. Screen readers do not have the capacity to understand images, so you can include alt text for images that allow said readers to understand and verbally read out what you’ve written.
Why is this Important to SEO?
The answer to this is pretty simple. Crawl bots cannot index images. Much like screen readers, they do not have the ability to understand them and the complexity of it all. That being said, crawl bots can absolutely crawl and index alt text, which makes them a prime place to include some keywords and really make your content more accessible to the masses.
This can also impact just general user experience, and if I’ve done nothing else, I hope I have hammered home the importane of overall user experience. Making your website and content more easily understood and making that user experience more intuitive and easily accessed is only to everybody’s benefit. Now, back on track. We’ve all been to websites that don’t load properly and images are left with the little red “x” or that broken image symbol in the corner. This can be to the detriment of a page’s overall clarity. With the inclusion of alt text though, at bare minimum, if the image does not load, you will have a description of what the image would otherwise depict.
All in all, it’s an easy thing to include that makes your site more friendly to all those it should be friendly to!
Alt Text Best Practices
The thing to keep in mind is making sure you are honouring alt text’s original purpose and not to try to optimize for SEO purposes. The SEO benefits are just a byproduct of alt text as a whole. It doesn’t need to be super long, and descripte and concise is generally best.
So for example:
Bad alt tex for this would simply be: A young girl.
It’s factual but doesn’t do a good job giving the full “picture,” for lack of a better phrase. You’d really want to include what she is doing action wise.
So better alt text would be: A young girl biting into a sandwich.
It’s as simple as that.
How to Audit for Alt Text
For this, we go back to our friend Screaming Frog SEO. So you pull up your Screaming Frog app, you type in any given url, and crawl it. So I’ve once again obscured the more “private” information, to not make an example of any one company or brand, but wanted to give you guys an idea of what it is you’re looking for.
You can either click the tab labeled “Image,” at the top which will take you to the image section of Screaming Frog, or you can just scroll down the list of things on the right hand side. There, it will give you the urls of all these eimagese that lack alt text, which you either go about rectifying yourself, or tell your client about it.
It’s an easy thing to offer up and only make the world a little better through accessibility and