Design Ninja

Design Ninja

By David Moore

Friday, 27 July 2012

Utilising the image ALT attribute for SEO goodness

What are ALT attributes?

The ALT attribute or 'Alternative text' (frequently referred to as ALT tag) is quite simply text that we add to the image properties to provide a description of the image when it is not available i.e. when the website is being viewed with a screenreader, crawled by the Googlebot or because images are turned off.  It is always a smart approach to add an alternative (alt) text for your images as this has a massive benefit from an accessibility point of view (which is great) but it can also have a positive impact for your websites SEO which is also pretty fantabulous!

Below is a sample of how to get your ALT attribute swag on:

<img alt="YOUR IMAGE ALT TEXT" src="/image source link"/>

What those crazy guys at Google say about the ALT attribute

Taken from Google Webmaster tools: 'Use the alt attribute to provide descriptive text. In addition, we recommend using a human-readable caption and descriptive text around the image.'

A statement about how they handle ALT tags: 'Some of you have asked about the difference between the "alt" and "title" attributes. According to the W3C recommendations, the "alt" attribute specifies an alternate text for user agents that cannot display images, forms or applets. The "title" attribute is a bit different: it "offers advisory information about the element for which it is set." As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the "alt" attribute. Feel free to supplement the "alt" attribute with "title" and other attributes if they provide value to your users!'

(Make sure you check out the video from Google engineer Matt Cutts above to see what he  has to say about the ALT attribute and also to check out his cat sketch, good job Matt knows his Search Engine shizzle because hes no artist!)

So what we can gather from this is that the ALT tag is the attribute that Google ranks highest with image optimisation, but that shouldn't stop you flexing some other attributes such as the 'title' attribute and in a best case scenario you would definitely make sure that both were in place.

Our advice to you

Take some time to think of keyword rich and targeted alt and title attributes ensuring these remain relevant to the image used and the surrounding copy.

* Also keep in mind that using an alt attribute for each image is required to meet the minimum WAI requirements, which are used as the benchmark for accessibility laws in UK and the rest of Europe.  They are vital for making your site accessible but this does not mean that you can not benefit SEO wise at the same time WIN WIN!

Comments (5)

  • Princess

    31 August 2012 at 11:34 |
    Hi just thought i would tell you some thing.. This is twice now i?ve ladend in your weblog in the final 3 weeks looking for completely unrelated issues. Terrific Data! Keep up the beneficial work.
    • Code Guru

      31 August 2012 at 11:53 |
      Thanks Princess, it's good to hear you are finding our blog useful!
  • Frankie

    31 August 2012 at 17:43 |
    A sipmle and intelligent point, well made. Thanks!
  • googlepo

    10 September 2012 at 22:36 |
    superb article . Will definitely copy it to my blog.Thanks.
  • David

    11 September 2012 at 09:00 |
    Glad you found it useful and even better that you are sharing it on your blog.

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