Guide to Optimizing Images: For Beginner SEO — Image ALT Tags

You’ll find sometimes that using an image in your page content serves the content and message well. If you’ve discovered this on your own, then great, but know this:

  • Web designers know that audiences love visual cues
  • Because of this, using images to augment the content makes for a better user experience
  • Google is a big fan of better user experiences, so using images can help your SEO

Since we’ve established that Google likes better user experiences and that people are drawn to content with well thought out and well placed images (they also break up large sections of text so as to not discourage the average reader), you should use them in your content for the user and SEO purposes.

When you use images in your content, you should use alt images tags.

The alt image tag is located within an <IMG> tag. The syntax for using this tag is as follows:

<img src=”http://domain.com/yourimagename.jpg” alt=”your brief description of the image”>

The alt image tag has a purpose beyond SEO:  It’s a textual replacement for the image if for any reason it cannot be displayed or if a site visitor is using software to ‘read’ the page content for them (think of Web Accessibility reasons).

It’s purpose was never to spam or create overt SEO signals for the search engines, so don’t think of it that way. You should think of it, however, as a means to enhance the experience for the user (first) and then as a means of signaling the search engines (second) without doing the following:

  • Don’t fill the alt tag with keywords/phrases like the old-style Meta Keyword lists
  • Don’t stray from an honest description of the image, just to add more content to the page
  • Don’t be repetitive. Read that again, repeat.
  • If you have similar images on a single page, don’t dupe the alt tag from image to image

Now that you’ve got a better idea on how to use the image alt tags for usability and SEO, go do it and be consistent, tag all relevant images (except for dividers, arrows, etc.). Good luck beginner SEO!

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