While the percentage varies (depending on your source), Google now displays a significantly higher number of images on their search. This move is strategic, of course.
Studies have shown that humans are visual learners. Our brain absorbs information faster and retains it longer when presented as or accompanied by visuals, such as images or videos.
Visuals are also appealing to mobile users. Because of tech improvements, pictures now appear crisper, brighter, and more beautiful. Adding images to your content also makes it more engaging. In fact, internet users share over 3 billion pictures daily.
In other words, you cannot maximize your online marketing campaigns if you don’t use pictures. But how do you make the most of these from an SEO and user experience (UX) perspective? The answer is alt tags.
Alt tags are HTML attributes that provide a text alternative for search engines and users who cannot see images on the page. Here’s what a typical image tag looks like:
<img src=”sample-image.jpg” alt=”This is a sample image”>
The code is simple, but its impact is huge for many reasons:
Website accessibility matters. It’s not just a moral obligation – it’s also a business requirement.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities against discrimination in several areas, including online access to information. Businesses and nonprofits must provide public accommodations to ensure that their websites are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.
People with disabilities are also underserved markets. The 2020 Global Economics of Disability report revealed that this group and their advocates and family account for over $10 trillion of annual disposable income.
Alt tags can help you tap into these markets by making your site accessible to people with disabilities. When they open the website, for example, screen readers will read the contents of the alt tags out loud. The alt tags can contain critical information that may help them when researching a product or service.
The average website has over 50 images, but not all have alt tags. As reported by Digital Authority Partners, adding this tiny piece of HTML code can spell the difference between you and your competition. You can:
- Make your website more relevant and understandable to your target audience.
- Broaden your market to include those who don’t have an excellent internet connection, people with disabilities, and individuals with poor text comprehension.
- Increase your chances of getting indexed and ranking high for your chosen keywords.
- Strengthen your brand by creating a more consistent message across all platforms.
Search engine crawlers are like robots that visit websites to collect information. This data is then used to create searchable indexes that power the SERPs. You’re already one step closer to generating leads and sales when your pages are in the SERPs.
But crawlers do have limitations, including difficulty understanding images because they can only read text. Google and other major search engines have improved their image-recognition capabilities recently, but they’re not perfect yet.
Alt tags provide context for your images and help the search engines understand what the pictures are about so they can be properly indexed.
No doubt, SEO brings in the dollars and customers. Almost 70% of all internet activities begin with a keyword. Meanwhile, websites on the first page usually receive 75% of the traffic.
Optimized websites deliver better return on investment (ROI). One study showed that a company that invested in SEO earned $2.75 in revenue for every $1 spent on their optimization efforts.
Businesses can also use SEO to understand their consumers better. You can use Google Analytics to track conversions, leads, and sales. You can also use keyword research to discover what users are searching to serve their needs.
Alt tags can improve your SEO by giving you another opportunity to include target keywords on the page. Additionally, they can help boost your click-through rate (CTR) by making images more relevant to the users’ search queries.
Alt tags improve your page’s dwell time (the amount of time a user spends on the website before clicking back to the SERPs). You have a higher chance of converting them when they stay longer on your site.
Users don’t like waiting for websites to load, especially when trying to find something specific. In fact, over 60% will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
One way to speed up your website’s loading time is by using smaller images. But you don’t want to sacrifice quality and visual appeal – that’s where alt tags come in.
You can use alt tags to give users a brief but accurate summary of an image instead of writing long descriptions. This way, they can understand what they’re looking at without waiting for the entire page to load.
It also comes in handy when images don’t display properly. Alt tags provide a text-based alternative that users can still read and comprehend.
Now that you understand the benefits of using alt tags, it’s time to learn how to write them. Here are some tips:
1. Keep It Short and Sweet
The ideal length for an alt tag is fewer than 125 characters, including spaces. Any longer, and you run the risk of getting cut off in the SERPs.
You want your alt tags to be as descriptive as possible without being too wordy. After all, you’re writing for both users and search engines.
2. Use Target Keywords
Use your target keywords in the alt tags to improve SEO, but don’t stuff them in there. These keywords will only sound unnatural, but you might also get penalized by Google.
3. Avoid Generic Terms
Using generic terms like “picture,” “image,” or “photo” won’t help users or search engines understand what the image is about. Be as specific as possible, especially when it comes to product photos.
Don’t use the same alt tag for all your images. Create a unique tag for each that accurately reflects what’s in the picture.
5. Make It Relevant
The goal is to make your alt tags relevant to users and search engines. So only include information that’s actually in the image.
Alt tags are a small but important part of your website’s SEO. Including target keywords and making them relevant to users can improve your chances of ranking in the SERPs and driving traffic to your site.