Relevance of ALT Text in Today’s Search Engine Optimization Landscape
ALT text in images has always been one of the numerous ranking parameters that are widely considered by many experts in search engine optimization. However, its SEO value has weakened significantly over time. It used to have a lot of bearings in the past, but now the search engines seem no longer putting too much emphasis on it because of abuse by some bloggers by stuffing excessive keywords for SEO purposes.
Anything that is made for the search engines is considered black hat or grey hat, and stuffing keywords in contents and images is a form of web spam. A lot of webmasters are not aware of the tremendous impact of keyword stuffing in the form of ALT-texts in images. This will not only diminish the page rank but it can cause so much inconvenience among some disabled persons surfing the net.
ALT Texts in Today’s SEO World
Several studies were conducted and the results all concluded that the major players in the search engines no longer consider the keywords in the ALT-texts when evaluating the blog’s relevancy. So it is now redundant to stuff images with your targeted keywords.
Doing it is not only useless but it can also cause damage to the search engine ranking of your web store. Those who are involved with web spam are now dealt with accordingly.
Keyword stuffing in images has caused so much inconvenience on visually impaired people surfing the net with the narrator on, reading the contents aloud. Images are usually read by the narrator based on their ALT-texts.
So if you stuff a particular image with so many keywords, every phrase will be read aloud one-by-one. Sometimes, it can take several seconds to read a single image. This will further delay the reading time and remarkably diminish the user-experience of a visually-disabled person.
In response to this, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) has now imposed stringent measures by setting up strict criteria when evaluating blogs before giving them an ADA-compliant certification. Thus, disabled people surfing the web will normally look for blogs that are ADA-compliant first before reading other blogs to ensure better user-experience when browsing the net.
Big G’s Recommendation on ALT Tags
On the part of Google, it used to consider ALT tags just like meta tags in web-contents; but with so many keyword stuffing incidences in images, it no longer uses the meta tags as part of its ranking algorithms today with retrospect to relevancy.
Despite that, adding ALT texts continues to be used and it can somehow help in getting your blog indexed according to your target keywords. If you don’t add this in your image, there is no way for the search engines to index the image appropriately.
Aside from that, this is relevant in ranking photos for the Google Images. You can capture significant amount of traffic from people searching for images that are relevant to their search queries.
A person looking for a good diet plan, for instance, would like to view an image of the ‘diet plan pyramid’; an individual looking for weight loss information would definitely want to see images before and after the program to see if the diet plan works.
That said there is still a role of alt-text in the search engine world. Just abide by the rules of Google to make it work. According to Matt Cutts about alt-texts in images, one good tip to observe is not to dump the image with excessive keywords to the point that they are already spammy in nature. Moreover, make sure that the words are readable and easy to index.
Tips on Creating Phrases for the ALT-Text
Make Your Tag Descriptive of the Photo
ALT-text is short for alternative texts to images. Some browsers cannot read images, so they will read the alternative texts instead. Therefore, these texts represent images, and they should talk on what the image is all about. It must be a short description of the photo so that users reading the content on a browser with images disabled can still have some ideas regarding the photo and its role in the content.
So you should keep this in mind when formulating the texts to use. You must create the phrase for the readers and not for the search engine. Just think of explaining what the photo is about to a blind person and you are good to go. Remember, blind people still surf the net, and there are tools like the Microsoft narrator that reads the contents aloud. When the tool reaches the image, it will read the alternative text. Hence, the image must be relevant to the content, and the AlT-text must be evocative of the photo.
Avoid Using the Same Keywords
Google frowns over keyword stuffing in images. It is important to know what this really means. It doesn’t necessarily imply adding too many keyword phrases as tags in a single image. It can also mean using the same keyword phrase in all photos of your blog.
If there are plenty of images in different posts then don’t use the same phrase; instead, add variations around the main target keywords. Using the same keywords can be construed by the search engine bots as keyword spamming, and this will place your blog at risk for possible penalty.
Make It Short But Concise
Don’t insert long description as ALT-text. Make it short but accurate in explaining the image. A 5 to 8-word sentence is already good. However, don’t place just the keyword phrase but make it explanatory of the image to make sense.
Avoid Using Non-Relevant Images with Redundant Texts
There is no point of adding an image that is not related to the post. Photos are inserted mainly to reinforce the subject matter and for added understanding of the topic discussed in the article. So they must be relevant to the topic, otherwise their every essence is lost.
In short, ALT texts may be considered by the search engines as no longer as important as before, but still they have some important roles to play that can significantly affect the overall user-experience of the visitors. They are also essential for disabled persons, as well as for those using browsers with disabled-images.
Despite having low relevancy in search engine optimization, these alternative texts are still used to rank photos for the Google Image Search. Without these texts inserted in the photos, search engine bots will have a hard time indexing and ranking the images accordingly.
Therefore, make it a point to insert the ALT-text in order to optimize the photo for the Google Image search. You can still get notable amount of visits from this user-segment.
On top of that, you can also position your website for the disabled people with desires to surf the net. There are about 20 million individuals in the US with disability problems, and millions more from across the world. If your blog is ADA-compliant, this will be an added boost on traffic to your blog.
In any case, use of ALT-text was a SEO practice in the past. In today’s search engine landscape, its importance may no longer be significant but is role has shifted to providing better user-experience. Have web visitors are more than delighted to refer the web page to their friends. This will further add more people to check your website.