Alt text is one of those pieces of the SEO puzzle that often leaves people feeling confused. What is it exactly? And why does it make such a big difference for SEO? Alt text was designed as a disability accommodation for people who use screen readers, but it’s increasingly important for SEO. In this post, I review the function of alt text for images and how you can start creating effective alt text.

Alt Text for Images as a Disability Accommodation 

Alt text’s most important function is to make the internet accessible to more people. Visually impaired people can use software programs called screen readers to browse the information on web pages. Alt text provides the information screen readers need to describe photos and graphics. Without alt text, the software usually reads the file name instead. Imagine how jarring and frustrating that is. With alt text, you can make your website accessible.

Sometimes SEO experts recommend optimizing alt text to the point that it sounds awkward and loses its effectiveness for people who use screen readers. We advocate for the opposite approach: You can center people with disabilities and help your SEO along the way.

Alt Text for Images as an SEO Tool

The secondary function of alt text is to help with SEO. That is, it helps search engines associate your images with keywords. This is key for anyone trying to get found on Google Image search. Alt text tells Google which searches an image might be relevant for. If you publish a photo with “lace wedding dress” in the alt text, Google will know that it’s relevant for searches using that keyword.

Image SEO is more important than ever before. In 2022, it’s estimated that over 22% of all internet searches are Google image searches. You could get images in front of potential clients before they even click on a blog post. Regardless of your industry, it’s worth creating alt text for images for this reason alone.

While each of your web pages should be optimized for a keyword, your images on that page can target different keywords. This nuance allows you to get found on image searches that aren’t directly related to the keyword for your web page. For example, we created a blog post on Tia’s wedding photography website optimized for the keyword “best month to get married in New Orleans.” However, Tia used a variety of keywords in their alt text. Multiple images from this blog post show up in an image search for “New Orleans wedding parade.” Both the main blog post keyword and the image keywords align with Tia’s marketing goal of booking weddings in New Orleans. 

Our Guide to Alt Text for Images

Now that you know why alt text matters for your small business website, you might be wondering how to create it. We created Alt Text 101 to support entrepreneurs with practical tips and real life examples of alt text. We’ve paired it down to what you really need to know. Just because alt text for images is important doesn’t mean it should be hard. Grab your free copy of Alt Text 101 here!

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