As we know, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is becoming more popular and mandatory for every website to increase its rankings; a part of it is optimizing images. Image optimization is often overlooked by many web owners, content publishers and editors.
In order to rank the images,the ALT attribute (alternate text) is a vital. However, this attribute is ignored most of the time. The ALT attribute is crucial for better rankings of images and not utilizing it is an opportunity lost.
This is where some webmasters and unethical SEO personnel abuse the use of ALT tags. They simply stuff it with keywords in order to achieve a rich keyword density. What happens is: high keyword density triggers spam filters in most search engines, so keyword stuffing in ALT tags is not relevant for rankings. It may or may not result in a penalty for your site’s ranking from the search engines.
So, the question is, why do we need to optimize images anyway? And the answer is really simple; search engines simply cannot see images, same as blind people. There has to be some sort of identification, hence the ALT attribute.
Many people use the ALT attribute as a description or a label to an image, which is the wrong use for it. The words that are used in the ALT attribute should be the text equivalent as the image and should serve the same purpose as the image.
When writing the ALT attribute for any image, you should ask yourself this question: if the image was not there and you were to replace the image with text, would it serve the same purpose to the user in providing basic information and would the response be the same? The goal here is to facilitate the visual user with functional information.
Here are some use cases of the ALT attribute:
· If an image for a button is a magnifying glass, then the ALT attribute should be ‘search’ or ‘find’ and not ‘magnifying glass’ or ‘binoculars’.
· If the image shows data of some sort, then the actual data is appropriate.
· A description is advised when the image is meant to convey literal contents of the image.
· The function itself should be used only when the image is used to convey the use of a function.
ALT Attribute Guidelines:
· It is mandatory for accessibility and for valid XHTML that you always add ALT attributes to images.
· Use empty ALT attribute (alt=””) for images that serve only decorative purposes on a web page so browsers do not bother users by stating spacer image.
· If a button image is used, the ALT attribute should include “button” but only the function that is performed by that button image should be focused.
· If two or more images are the same, the ALT attribute should be determined by the context of that image. The same image may need a different attribute due to different context.
Image Optimization Tips:
· Make use of keywords when choosing the file name of an image. You can use hyphens to make the keyword stand out, but try not to overdo it by exceeding two hyphens. For example “fishing-boats.jpg”
· If the image the search engine sees is a “.jpg” it will assume it is a photo and if it sees “.gif” it is going to assume it is a graphic. So, it is necessary to label the file extensions.
· Place the image according to the text. Place it next to relevant text.
· Avoid the use of underscores, use hyphens instead.
Did I miss any? Please comment below!
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