If you’ve been around the SEO block a few times, you probably have heard of terms like “alt tags,” meta tags” and “title tags.” These are generally not visible to readers of your website, but instead are read by search engines for SEO purposes.
While you may have read that such tags aren’t really necessary, the reality is that all three and especially “alt tags” are absolutely vital to any modern Internet marketing campaign.
What Are Alt Tags?
Alt tags are used to describe images on your website. So for example, you might have a photo of a little boy enjoying an ice cream cone on your website promoting ice cream. Photos taken with a digital camera may have a title like “DSC000045.JPG.” That’s not very descriptive and is impossible for the search engines to categorize.
Putting in the words “little boy eating an ice cream cone” as an alt tag will ensure that Google and the other search engines can find out what the image is.
Why it Matters
There are three reasons why you need to include alt tags on every single one of your photos (we also recommend descriptive titles, though even just an alt tag can give you a huge leg up):
1. SEO – If you have a website which isn’t famous, then you need to optimize your content to be found by the search engines. By adding in alt tags, you are giving yourself free use of keywords which will be found by Google and will help Google index your site, thus improving your SERP rankings.
Just remember that like regular text on your website, keyword spamming for SEO purposes on your alt tags will result in a negative reaction from Google and other search engines.
2. Many People search for Photos – Google and every other search engine today has a special search engine available for photos and images. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t use artificial intelligence to scan photos and try to figure out what’s on them. Instead, it relies on alt tags to provide that information.
If you want to be visible in image searches (and why wouldn’t you want to be? After all, it helps you to improve traffic to your website, which is why you are reading about SEO to begin with), you must include descriptive alt tags that the search engines can find and categorize.
3. Visible to Those Who Turn Off Images—Finally, there are still a very large number of people who surf the Internet with dial up connections or who simply find all those images, especially the ones that flash at them to be annoying. These people may choose to shut off images on their browsers. Providing an alt tag means they’ll see something useful in place of the image.