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The Humble Alt Tag
26th March, 2018

It doesn’t matter how you dress it up the ‘alt tag’ is a vital weapon in your SEO armoury.

What is it?

Whenever you use an image in a website the HTML tells the web browser where to find that image and provides the opportunity to describe that image with ‘alternative text’ hence alt tag. If the image cannot, for whatever reason be displayed, the alternative text at least describes what the user should be viewing. Alt tags are also useful for users viewing a webpage on a screen reader or a browser that can’t process images, they do exist and are used!

Search engines, spiders and robots don’t ‘see’ images, but as we know images are hugely important to the way people process information and interact with the web. In an SEO context, alt tags can be read by the search engines. When one of Google’s bots or another search engine spider inspects a page’s images that are properly referenced will contribute to how that page is indexed and ranked.

Now if you take a look at your own website you may find that your code looks like this:

<img src="Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 12.26.20.png" alt="" />

Two things immediately stand out:

  • The file name of the image is meaningless
  • There is no alternative text

This is very common!


Don’t beat yourself up about it just make sure you do the following:

  • Use an image file name that adequately describes the image
  • If it is an image of a product you may wish to align the file name with the keyword for the product itself
  • Don’t use an overlong file name
  • Use well thought through succinct alt text, it is more likely to be indexed by the search engine.
  • If the image is topic focused you can include that topic in the alt text
  • Alt tags are part of your SEO armoury, not the be-all and end-all

The phrase ‘A Stitch in Time…’ comes to mind and really this is the case with a filename and the Alt Tags, however humble the Alt Tag is it literally describes the image and this information is super valuable to search engines. And the cost to you is less than a minutes’ extra thought when uploading to your website.

Arrrhhh – the onus be on you