Alt Text is a Ranking Factor or not?
Alt text is used by computers to read images. Can this alt text to affect your rankings in organic search. In this tutorial we’re going to discuss about whether alt text is a ranking factor or not.
The Claim of Alt Text is a Ranking Factor
Before learning alt text is a ranking factor or not, we should get a clear idea about what is a alt text. It is an HTML image attribute. You can create a text version of image using alt text. When there is an accessibility issue or when the image is unable to load, the alt text will be shown instead. Computers read images using this alt texts. It is important to Google images search. Therefore anyone can think as alt text is a ranking factor.
The Evidence Of Alt Text is a Ranking Factor
Google has mentioned the importance of alt text in several times. They issued following statement in Google Search Central’s “Search Engine Optimization Guide” about alt text.
- “These image are easier to interpret for image search programs like Google Images by optimizing image alt text and filenames.
There is a page of image best practices in Advanced SEO documentation which issued by Google Search Central. Google has discussed about the use of alt text in “about alt text” section.
- “Google uses alt text to understand the subject of the image along with the page content and computer vision algorithms. If you decide to use images as links, then alt texts act as anchor texts.”
Google didn’t say that alt text is a ranking factor. They have said if you don’t use them correctly, it’ll be harmful for your site instead.
- “Don’t fill alt attributes with keywords. It will give negative user experience and it may caused for site to be seen as a spam.”
Good and bad usages of alt texts
They have also given following examples as good and bad usages of alt texts.
John Mueller, Google Search Advocate talked about Google alt text when he was questioned about the alt text of a quote image in 2020 during a Google Webmaster Office Hours. His reply was given below.
- “We use alt attribute to get better understanding about the images. Alt text is important in image search. But if you don’t care about Image Search, there is no need to worry about alt attribute. If you want these images to be shown in the image search, using alt texts is important. Then we can get a idea about what is on this image and also extra information from your page about how to rank that landing page.”
Moz didn’t say alt text is a ranking factor. He only said ranking factors in relation to alt text instead. His statement is given below.
- “Alt text gives you another opportunity to include target keyword. Keyword usage works as a ranking factor. Therefore it’s better to use your target keyword or keyword phrase with image description in alt text”
Google developer Martin Splitt brought up alt text in a 2021 conversation about ALT text’s advantages for SEO.
- “Yes. alt attribute is important for SEO too!”
No one has specifically said that alt text is a ranking factor. But it’s clear that alt texts are important for images to be shown in the image search results. Based on Google representatives comments and other supporting information, we can say alt text is a ranking factor though.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I read alt text?
In Chrome browser, point the image with your mouse. Then right-click on it and select Inspect from the quick menu. You can do the same using Ctrl-Shift-I buttons on your keyboard. A new pane will opened at the right of the screen with the HTML code highlighted for the element. Then you can view the alt text and also other attributes for the image.
Do all images need alt tags?
Images that you use should have an alt text. It is important for SEO purposes and accessibility. Alt texts give better understanding about what is in the image. But there is no need to every single image have alt texts.
What can you not do with alt text?
Search engines can’t read text in your images. You shouldn’t use images in place of words. If you use images, explain what your image says within its alt text. But don’t include phases like “image of,” “picture of” in your alt text.