2. On Page SEO for Beginners
Article #2.19

Are you Optimizing your alt Images correctly?

What is an alt tag and how do we set them?

An alt tag is defined as an alternative text applied to an image on your webpage. The alt tag is readable by the screen readers and the viewers in the form of alternative text to the image.

Alt attribute is another name given to alt tag, it is an attribute of the img tag. When an image does not appear on your webpage due to any error, the alt text appears instead of the image, giving an idea about what is the image about. The text displayed is an alternative text. 

Adding an alt text to an image is very easy, you just need to use an alt attribute on your image:
 <img src="image.gif" alt="Beautiful Beach Sunset" />

Are alt tags really important?

Definitely, Alt tags play an important role as they help in understanding the content of your website and are easily available to the viewers to understand the image.  
Seo Perspective - 
Generally, Search Engines use alt text to determine what is the search query and reverts with the suitable image as an answer to the query. This is a great way to improve your rankings and attract new visitors to the site. 
Alt attribute helps in utilizing your keywords, you want to target on. Make sure that you are using the right alt text for that particular image.

Video by Matt Cutts explains that computers are not great in understanding images, It is easier for Google to understand the text written in as an alternative text. 


Make sure you don’t forget that your alt tags should not be keyword stuffed. Using alt tags is for sure, a great practice but doing keyword stuffing is definitely not.
Try keeping your alt tags short, descriptive and relevant to the image they are being used for, and you will definitely see the magic i.e. increase in your rankings.

Basics of using alt tags in SEO!

Some basics you should know for using alt tags for effective SEO:

  • Short Text -  The alt text should be kept concise because the longer the alt text, the lesser is its impact. Describe the image completely with less number of words. Long floral text may get inefficient to indexed.  
  • Be Precise - While describing the products for an ecommerce business, the alt text should precisely describe the product within the image so that it shows up with relevant results. 
  • No keyword Stuffing - Keywords stuffing is punishable by Google. Google will penalise you if you are stuffing keywords in your alt tag. For example : for a red jacket you are writing - red jacket red ladies hoodie red jacket. This is something which is going haywire. It’s better to use simple description and you are good to go.
  • Mention topics in alt text - You should mention the keywords in an alt text. Google is very smart. Alt text helps Google to determine the topic of the page. what’s in the topic, alt text gives an idea to Google.  
  • Tests your Images - Test your images that whether you have placed right alt text to the particular image. Are your images showing alt text correctly or not. 

Interested in knowing the different types of Images files. Read on! 

There are different types of image files. But the most common one which are used are:

  • JPG :  

JPEG means Joint Photographic Experts Group. These file types end with .jpg. It is the most used image file format. Web pages and Digital cameras use these types of files because these images are compressed to store a lot of information in a small-size file. Generally, Digital cameras store photos in JPEG format because you can take many pictures on one camera card rather than any other. Photographs used on web also uses the JPEG format because they can be easily uploaded on a web page.

  • GIF:

GIF means Graphic Interchange Format. These file types end with .gifs. This type of image format compresses images but are different from JPEG, the compression is lossless  which means that no detail is lost in compression. The only problem is that the file can not be made as small as a JPEG.
Moreover, GIFs have a limited color range which is suitable for the web but not suitable for printing. Therefore, this image format is not used for photography. 
Though, GIFs can be used for animation.

  • PNG:

PNG means Portable Network Graphics. These file types end with .png. Nowadays, PNG has replaced GIF.
It was created because the patent of GIF was with only one company and nobody wanted to give licensing fees. Plus, it gives better range of color and compression.
The images are used for web and not for printing purpose.

Wondering about Image optimisation?  

Image Optimisation is defined as using the smallest file size(compressed) which is visually acceptable and has a proper image file format.
You have been wondering about how are images created? What programs are used to customize the images etc. The images you create can be through Photoshop and Illustrator. But with these kind of programs, the image created is very large. This happens because it’s  easier to manipulate images in different ways by these programs.
If you use these images on your page, definitely the loading speed of your website declines because the files are too heavy for your web page. 
Optimizing your images for the web means saving or compiling your images in such a way that the format is web friendly, depending on what your image contains.
Images does not only consists of pixels, it has many other data which is not visible on screen. That data adds unnecessary elements to the image leading to heavy loading speed of the image.

The main reason to optimize your images is because 90% of websites are graphics dependent and have a lot of image files. Leaving the images uncompressed and may be in the wrong image format will definitely affect your webpage loading speed.

Learning how to rank your images in Google and other Search Engines.

Steps needed to be taken to optimize images in Google and other Search Engines are:

  • Alt text - The first factor is alt text. As we discussed earlier, search engines cannot read images, therefore you need to help search engines in describing what your image is all about. For example, if your image is of beautiful sunset on a beach, your alt tag should be like : 
    Alt=”Beautiful beach sunset”.
  • File size - There are two elements of the image, one is the dimension of the image and second is how much storage space the image requires. While optimising, make sure that the dimensions of the image are as big as possible and the storage image is as small as it can be. There are programs which help you adjust the dimensions and keep the image compressed such as Skitch.
  • File name -  Let’s take the same example of Beautiful beach sunset for file name. Your file name should be such that it explains the image beautifully and is not generic in nature such as “beautifulbeachsunset.jpg”. Create a unique file name so that it is easy to be ranked in Search Engines.
  • Content -  When you put an image on your webpage, try and wrap your content around it because if the text is related to the image, much better it is to rank. Do not stuff keywords or spam content. Just place words which makes sense. 
  • Anchor Text -  You can easily improve your rankings by building links to it, just like we do for trying to get a web page ranked. The better the authority of link anchor text, higher the image will rank.
  • Proper Dimensions - Try and save your images in appropriate dimensions. Do not resize your images with HTML and CSS. Save the file with in it’s original size. Reduce the file size for faster loading. 
  • Caption - Add a caption to the image so that it’s easy for search engines to scan the page and easier to search the relevant image.
  • Alignment - Try not to break the left reading line using an image. 
    Also, add an open graph and twitter cards tags to the image. 

How to decrease bounce rate of people coming from image search?

It is quite easy to attract traffic through image search because there is less competition and secondly, the competition we have is not properly optimized. Driving traffic from images gives a helping hand to the webmasters. Through images, the viewers might get attracted and may click on the image. 
Hence, consider images as a great way to drive traffic and also a medium to decline bounce rate. 
Remember, be sure, the traffic you are driving is relevant and valuable to you. 

Do you know there is a difference between Image alt text and Image title.

Image Alt text is defined as an alternative information for the people who cannot see the images in their browsers due to some error or have disabled images to show in their browsers. The alternative information describes what the image is about and attracts the visitors to see it.
Without alt text, an image will be displayed as an empty icon without alt
As discussed in Matt Cutts Video above, Google only concentrates on alt text when it wants to understand the image. 

Image title helps in providing additional information about the image to the Search Engines. The image title is just like the other titles. It should be short, relevant, catchy, and precise but, descriptive in its own manner.
If you are using firefox, the title of the image shows when you mouse over on the image.

Well, coming to the conclusion, both Image Alt text and Image title are meant for the users. 
Alt text is more important in context to crawlers.
Also, Try and Include your main keywords in both alt text and image title and keep their respective description different.
Don’t mess up by doing Keyword stuffing in your alt text or in Image title. Use only those keywords which are relevant and meaningful.


Definitely, Optimising your images are really important for both the user as well as the SEO perspective. Use alt tags wherever possible for your image as it helps in improving your search engine rankings and for the user, it is easy to understand what the image is all about. 
If still in doubt, write about it and we will guide you further.


Future of Marketing: Infographic Series

Future of SEO

We asked 25 industry experts, 4 questions regarding the future of SEO. Visit the Infographic to know the insights of Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin and 23 other.

Future of Content marketing

We asked 21 experts 5 questions about the future of content marketing; from their best strategies to rank content to their favorite tools - read it all here.

Future of Social Media Marketing

We interviewed Top 20 experts, 5 questions regarding the future of Social Media Marketing; From primary strategies you use to engage with your social media followers to boldest predictions for The Future of Social Media Marketing. We have it all here!

Future of SEO in India

We asked 23 experts about the state and future of SEO in India. See what the experts had to say on the subject.

  • PENGUIN 4.0 (Real-time) UPDATE

Google Algorithm Updates Timeline

Integrate your Google Analytics account and see how the various algorithm updates have affected your websites' traffic.

Get free Marketing and Business Advice

Even if you don't visit RankWatch on a regular basis, you can get the latest posts delivered to you for free via RSS or Email. :