Everyone not only wants to rank on page 1 of Google, but they want to be at the top of the page. You need to use every tactic possible to outrank your competitors and other major websites and get in front of your target audience. One of those ways is through the use of alt text.
No one’s going to scroll down to find you. So how do you increase your chances of ranking on page 1 of Google?
If you want to improve your search engine optimization to get found online, you need to think about that which isn’t obvious; your alt text. But what exactly does alt text mean? And how can you make sure you’re writing it correctly in your blog posts and website?
What Is Alt Text?
Sometimes referred to as “alt attributes” or “alt descriptions,” alt text stands for “alternative text.” It’s added to any images you use to describe what each image shows.
Alt text is used to help visually impaired readers understand images used on your blog posts and website. Alt text makes your writing inclusive for everyone. And increasing the number of people who can access your writing can only ever be a good thing.
Alt text is also useful when an image, for whatever reason, isn’t displayed. If your image doesn’t load, the alt text is displayed instead. It’s a helpful description that tells your reader what they should be seeing.
What Alt Text Is NOT
Alt text is NOT the same as the caption or title you see when you hover over an image. Readers won’t see alt text unless an image doesn’t load for some reason.
Alt text is NOT an opportunity for creative writing like you would with a meta description. It should be a factual and informative description rather than an elevator pitch. Ideally, focus on the keyword you’ve chosen for the article you’re writing.
As you focus on the keyword, DO NOT keyword stuff the alt text. Google frowns upon keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing will do more harm than good when it comes to your content ranking on Google.
How To Write Descriptive Alt Text
So how do you write alt text? Creating great alt text is like walking a tightrope. You want to be descriptive, but not wordy; keyword focused, but not keyword stuffed. Like most things; practice, practice, practice. The more you write alt text, the easier it becomes.
Keep your alt text short, less than 125 characters. There’s no hard-set rule on how many words you should use, but between four and seven words are the unofficial number according to the industry. Write in a sentence rather than random words and always include the product name if you’re selling something.
Don’t start off your alt text with phrases like “A picture of” or “A screenshot of.” This is just a waste of characters. Get straight to describing the image.
Writing Alt Text For Images
If I ask you to close your eyes and think of a cup of coffee, what do you see? Maybe you pictured a yummy latte in a Starbucks cup? Or did you see a small espresso in a white china cup? The problem is if descriptions aren’t very specific then they add no value to your alt text.
Adding detail to your alt text can help find that sweet spot between descriptive and too wordy. That’s where great alt text lies.
Imagine my keyword is simply ‘coffee’ and this is my image:
My alt text might look something like this:
- Good: Black coffee
- Better: Black coffee in a cup
- Best: Black coffee poured into a china cup
Even though the recommendation is to use full sentences, you can cut out the occasional “the” or “a” from your sentence to be more concise. This is a useful tip if you’re near the end of your character limit. For example, “black coffee poured into a china cup” can easily lose the “a” and still keep its meaning.
Using alt text doesn’t just make your content more inclusive, it’s also an easy way of boosting your search engine optimization. Writing alt text isn’t hard, but it’s worth spending time thinking about your keywords before you go searching for images.
Start by writing a simple description and see how you can edit it to add more detail or to cut out unnecessary words that detract from the description. Great alt text will help get you into the top results for the keywords you want to rank for.
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