SEO: Image Alt Text vs Title

Are you losing traffic via your Image alt & title attributes? What are they? What is the difference between Image Alt Text vs Title? You may not care but Google does!

Image Alt and Title attributes with Lumpy Dog

Image Alt and Title attributes with Lumpy Dog

Effect of Image Alt Text vs Title on SEO

First let me tell you effects alt text & title attributes have on your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  Then you can decide if it is worth your time to read further.

In simple words, you know that SEO is all about getting found (by search engines aka Google!), right? And if Google can find you, then users can find you. And you do want Google to find you in as many ways as possible. Right?  So it is not just your blog post and pages.  You want Google to find your images too (which will then lead users to your site).

This has become more important as image searches become more and more heavily used in searches.

Google's powerful Image Search

Google’s powerful Image Search

SEO: Alt Text vs Title

Off the bat, I tell you now, Google has officially said (for now anyway) that image alt attributes are important to them.  More than image titles.  (But with Google, that may change over time.  So it might not be a bad idea to cover both of them.)

Google says: Image Alt attributes are important to us.


So what are Image Alt Text and Titles?

What are alt text and title?

alt text (meaning: alternative text): describes the image

title: tells the user what the image is used for, in context.  It is what users will see when they hover an image.

Let me use an example to show you.

Let’s say I have this image. And I want to use it to link to my online shop.

Lumpy Dog to illustrate importance of alt text

For the alt text, I might write: Lumpy Dog illustration

(That is not the alt text I actually used here. You can see what it is in the view source. 🙂 )

For the title, I might write: To Online Shop (this is the tooltip that users will see when they hover an image).  Because I want to use it to link to my Online Shop, this description is then useful to the user, in context to how the image is being used.
(That is not the title text I actually use here. You can see what it is if you hover over the image. 🙂 )

lumpy dog showing its title attribute

Title is what users see when they hover over image

And if for any reason the image can’t be found (e.g. you accidentally deleted it from your media library), then users will see the alt text and usually a broken image icon.

Missing image with Alt text

Missing image with Alt text

What about the SEO?

With the alt text in place, Google will be able to know that your image is about a lumpy dog.

So when people search for a lumpy dog, they might find your image.  Otherwise how will Google know what your image is about and which image to serve up when someone searches for a lumpy dog?

Now you say, Yeah, ok.  But that does not mean people who look for lumpy dog will be any good for my online store.

Ans: True!  Maybe!  More eyeballs to your store is always a good thing. Better yet, you can be accurate but also optimize SEO.

Be Clever yet accurate with your alt text.

Here’s what I mean.

For your alt text, you might say something like Lumpy Dog points way to ClearlyHelena Online Shop. And then it would also have what is likely my page’s keyword (“ClearlyHelena Online Shop”) in the alt text. And that way the image might come up in searches for both lumpy dog and my shop!

And since Google (and other search engines) might also use the information in your  title, you might as well do the same with your title.  Just copy and paste.  Easy and you lose nothing by it.

Really, what does Google say about the alt text?

If I have not convinced you yet to use your alt attributes, then have a listen to Matt Cutts – who is often the vocal voice of Google.  It is really such a good video.  Very much in simple layman’s term.  He makes it all very understandable. So do have a watch.  Or if you want to read “deeper” stuff, please refer to the references below.

If you are now convinced that you might be losing out on your SEO efforts (i.e not being found as often as you should), then you will want to see my next article on easy SEO for your beautiful images in WordPress. (I will give you a link as soon as the article is written).




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