You may already know the basics of image alt text. It's important to tell users and search engines what the image is about and that it can be clicked on to go to a certain web page or show some more information. Alt text does exactly that for you.
Coming back to basics
It's also important to know that image alt text matters in SEO. An alt attribute has been in use since the very early days of HTML and has been used for a variety of purposes, not just for images but for other elements. But with SEO as an important use case, it's become even more important than ever before.
What search engines do with image alt text
Google, Bing, and others all have advanced algorithms that are used to determine the relevance of web pages. One very basic way to do this is by looking at the text on the page itself. Keywords are important. And when you use keywords in the alt attribute for images, it makes the page more relevant.
Why it matters
The reason why using keywords in the alt attribute of an image is important is because search engines can't actually see your images, but they can read your text to understand what the image is about. If you don't do this, then search engines won't really know if that image on that web page is relevant to what that web page is about. This will prevent those images from ranking as highly as they could have otherwise.
You don't have to be too keyword-crazy, though. Google is smart enough to tell when you put in a lot of keywords for the sole purpose of trying to make sure that it ranks better. But if you use a few keywords naturally while still using good grammar and syntax, then your images will rank better and help the user understand that image and what it's about.
You should also remember that alt text isn't just used by search engines. Screen readers used by people, who are visually impaired, to access the web address them as well. They can listen to what text is being read out loud, or they can read it themselves on their screen. And this text has to be visible in some way. So alt text is very important.
How to use alt text
So what should you do? Here are some things to keep in mind:
You should add the alt attribute to your images. If you don't do this, then image search engines or screen readers won't know what's happening in that image. And if they can't tell, then they might not be able to match that image with your web page. Of course, screen readers are only one of many ways that images can be used on the web. You're also using images for tutorials, infographics, animations, and so on. But any time you use an image, then adding the alt attribute is important. Here's what that code looks like:
Good Practice: <img src="myimage.jpg" alt="This is the alt text">
Bad Practice: <img src="myimage.png" alt="">
You should use keywords in the value of that attribute. If you don't do this, then search engines may not be able to figure out what information is being displayed through that image. In other words, it becomes less relevant to your web page and may not rank as high as it could have. But as always, use keywords naturally and don’t just stuff them. Here are some good examples of Alt Text.
Here are some things to avoid:
- Don't fill your alt attributes with a bunch of keywords or a sentence that includes all of your keywords. This is called keyword stuffing. Rather, keep it simple and use keywords within the alt text while still using good grammar and syntax.
- Don't use the older HTML attribute for images that haven't been used in years. But it's still out there.
- Don't include screenshots of websites that don't show any information of value.
- Don't add too many images on one page.
How to get started
Image alt text can be tough to figure out. But it's well worth it. Since using it can help your images rank better on search engines and also help the users who want to understand what that image is about. So if you haven't already added alt text, then you should try doing so today.
Using a Magento extension to bulk add/edit the alt text
There are some really cool alt image extensions available for Magento 2 that you can add to your website. If you're going to use images on a lot of pages, or you are going to use images in very important ways on your site, then this is definitely worth the time it takes to install and set up.
Such extensions will help you automatically add the alt text to your images and adjust it after new Google algorithm updates. They allow you to save a lot of time using bulk actions. And since they work quite well with Magento 2, there isn't any need to have your images set up differently on all of your web pages.
Here are some features you need to pay attention to when choosing Magento 2 alt text extension:
- Every time you upload a new product or list page image to your store, the right extension can automatically generate alternate text for that image.
- Generates SEO-friendly, crawlable and indexable image alt text
- Improves SEO through images with meaningful descriptions
- Works on all browsers and devices
- Generates meaningful alt texts with search engine algorithm updates in consideration for improved SEO results
Over to you
Just because search engines can't actually see images doesn't mean they don't still count! Images play an important role on your website, and this includes providing alt text information. We all know that an image can be worth a thousand words. That means putting in the time to generate some really good alt text might help crawlers better understand your site and what it offers.