How to Write SEO Friendly Alt Text for Your Images
What good is a stunning photography website if no one can find it online? This is exactly why you need to put some effort into improving your SEO. Let’s refresh your memory. SEO is not the acronym for Santa’s Elf Organization, but rather the practice of optimizing your site so that your pages can rank higher on search engines’ results. This will make it possible to show up on Google when someone enters: ‘wedding photographers in San Francisco’, for example. The more exposure you get on search result pages, the more prospective clients will see your work and book your services. Or, as we like to say: you’ll be makin’ it rain.
You’ve probably heard that good SEO comes with textual content. It’s true, but visuals can have a great impact on your website’s ranking, too. If only you knew the tricks… (Hint: you’ll discover them if you keep on reading). In this article, we’re going to focus on one small step for you, but a giant leap for your SEO: alt text. This little textual description is crucial to help Google’s bots understand what’s on your pictures, as they can’t actually ‘see’ them. The benefit is huge: your photos will stand a greater chance of appearing in image search results, which means more traffic to your site and a nice SEO boost.
So, let’s discover what alt text actually is, why it’s important and how to write awesome alt text:
What is alt text?
Alt text (for alternative text), is a small piece of text that is intended to describe an image, photograph, chart or any other picture on a website. The alt text is not actually visible on your pages – you can stop freaking out now. It only appears in the source code of your website, as a line of HTML code also known as the alt attribute. As Google (and other search engines) can’t actually ‘see’, they will check your code to find out what’s on your photos. Alt text allows search bots to understand your images, the context in which they are placed, and thus index them more accurately.
Why is alt text important?
Adding alt text to every image you upload on your website is crucial for three reasons:
Your images can be found on Google: Your images are crawled and indexed by search engines’ bots with the help of alt text. Images with a good alt text stand a better chance of appearing on Google Image Search. This is a big deal, as a third of all searches performed in Google are for images. Which means that, just by adding alt text, you can get even more traffic to your site.
Your website will have a better SEO: Search engines tend to perceive websites with SEO friendly images as more optimized. In addition, the increase in traffic you’ll be getting can totally boost your ranking.
Your website will be accessible to all: Visitors with a visual impairment use screen readers to understand what’s on a web page. In this case, the alt text will be read to them. Adding textual description to your images helps all types of users browse your website and enjoy it freely.
How to write good alt text
Let’s discover some alt text best practices you should apply to your website.
1. Define your goals The same image can tell many different stories. You need to figure out what story you want to tell, depending on the objective of your website. Whether you’re a photographer, a chef or a web designer, your image goals will be different. Let’s look at the below photo for example.
Let’s say that you’re in the tourism biz, offering a boat tour on a lake. In this case, the location becomes more important and you would therefore want to mention it in your alt text. So instead of writing a generic description “a boat on a lake surrounded by mountains,” you may opt for something more tourist-oriented, like “a scenic cruise on Lago di Braies.” If this image was represented in your photography portfolio, it would be a different story. You may want to highlight a certain photography type, like landscape or nature photography. It would turn into something like this: “Beautiful landscape photography of a lake with mountain view.” Lay out all the possibilities, and decide what’s most important to mention based on your goals.
2. Add relevant keywords
Keywords are the word phrases (or queries) that your potential clients would type into Google when looking for you – or a business like yours. Keywords are tightly related to your goals, and they are crucial for your website. Essentially if you want your images to show up as a result for certain keywords, then you should try inserting them into your alt text. As a photographer, your keywords will likely include: a photography specialty (e.g. animal photography), your name as a photographer (e.g. photo by John Doe), or a combination (e.g. photo by animal photographer John Doe). So how do you find these key phrases? Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes. What is it that you want people to search for when finding your image? Another handy tip: read this guide about how to find the right keywords.
Tip: Don’t overdo it with the keywords. Nobody (including search engines) wants to see this: “cat photographer Jane Smith taking beautiful cat photography of a cat in a bay.” Remember to make it sound natural and focus on explaining the image to humans.
3. Describe the image accurately
You’re probably sick of hearing this popular saying: “A picture says a thousand words.” But when it comes to alt text, it pretty much hits the nail on the head. There are so many ways to illustrate what’s on a photo. Explaining your images in the most accurate way possible will help search engines better understand what’s going on, on the screen. In addition, it’s wiser to use simple and commonly used words. Anything too fancy or sophisticated is less likely to be used by searchers. A great trick that can be used is to try and describe the image as if you were talking to a friend who cannot see it. This will help you write more precise alt text for your images.
4. Keep it short-ish
Indeed, the photograph of this pixel perfect breakfast below evokes many words. However, you should know that your alt text shouldn’t be endless. The recommendation is not to exceed 125 characters, otherwise your alt text may not be read completely. Your image description should not be something like: “Belgian homemade waffles covered in blueberries and rainbow colored sprinkles on pink plates with pretty napkins and a cup of tea with milk and a teapot all laid on hexagon white tiles.” Words are like calories, you don’t want to overindulge.
Keep it short by describing the focal points of the image: “Appetizing breakfast of waffles with toppings and tea.” Most of the time, you can also omit phrases such as “a picture of” or “an image of” to reduce your character count. Alt text already implies that this is an image, so mentioning it once again is superfluous. Nevertheless, if you’re a food photographer, you’ll want to compete for keywords related to your area of expertise. In that specific case, adding the word “Food photography” to the description makes total sense. The alt text will thus become: “Gorgeous food photography: appetizing breakfast of waffles with toppings and tea.”
How to add alt text to images
It’s extremely simple and intuitive to add alt text on your Wix website. Here’s the procedure:
To add alt text to your Wix Pro Gallery:
Click the gallery
Click ‘Manage Media’
Select an image
Insert your alt text underneath ‘Title (Alt text)’
To add alt text to a single image:
Click the image
Click the settings icon
Enter your alt text under ‘What’s in the image? Tell Google.’
How else can I improve my image SEO?
Alt text is the focus point when it comes to image SEO. However, there are some other ways you can further optimize your photography portfolio. First, make sure your images load quickly on your website. Actually, this is quite easy to do when using Wix Pro Gallery. Plus, you’ll retain your images’ high resolution. Check this out to learn how to optimize your images.
In addition to alt text, your image caption can be used to give an extra indication to search engines as to what the context of your image is. Here you can be more creative while remaining within the context of your portfolio, of course. It’s also a great place to add words you wouldn’t normally in your alt text.
To summarize: your images and text should go hand in hand, just like milk and cookies.
By Ruth Eschenheimer
SEO Content Specialist for Wix Blogs