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John Mueller Says Alt Text Only Affects Image Search

how can site owners improve website SEO

There are various ways site owners can improve website SEO. One of these is using descriptive “alt text” for images. However, Google recently clarified that this only affects website SEO for image search results, not web search results.

Alt image text is used to describe what is in an image. It can help Google understand what an image is about and provide context for users who cannot see the image. Alt text is also important for accessibility, as it provides a way for users with visual impairments to understand what is in an image.

Because alt text is only used in image search, Google’s use of it as a ranking factor is limited there. It does not provide any benefit for normal web searches.

Google Search Advocate John Mueller, during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on 18 March 2020, explained how alt text works for images.

He addressed various questions related to alternative text, or “alt text”, and how it impacts search engine optimisation (SEO). Mueller’s comments provided several key takeaways for those who manage website content.

Visitors who use screen readers may benefit from including alt attributes on images. This ensures that everyone visiting the site has access to the information provided by the alt text for each image.

From an SEO perspective, adding alt text is recommended when the goal is to have an image rank on image search.

As Mueller pointed out, alt text does not improve rankings in web search.

Alt Text Is Mainly for Image Search

Mueller was asked if decorative images, which are connected to the topic of this article, should have alt text.

He responded, saying: “That’s a judgement call”.

When it comes to SEO, the decision to use alt text or not depends on whether the goal is for the images to appear in image searches.

In fact, there is no difference between how Google perceives a page with and without images. The main difference is that if there are no photos, Google will not be able to index the website in the same way that it would if there were images with alt text. However, this does not imply that the page is unimportant for web search.

Mueller suggested focusing on the accessibility aspect rather than the SEO aspect in terms of using alt text.

The Significance of Alt Text on SEO

Another question regarding alt text came up, this time about whether or not it’s still worth using alt text when the image itself has text in it.

Mueller responded that it depends on how important text is to understand the image. If the text is essential, then including it in the alt text is still necessary; if not, omitting it won’t hurt.

The query went on to ask if alt text would be useful when there’s text on the page describing what’s in the image.

In such cases, alt text would be helpful because it allows for a description of the image. This way, people who cannot see the image can still understand what it contains. Alt text can also be helpful for those who may need to rely on context to understand what an image shows.

In this situation, search engines may figure out what the page is talking about just from the text available.

Still, it is beneficial to use alt text for those who rely on screen readers. This allows for a more accessible experience for all users.

Alt Text Must be Descriptive

In line with this, Mueller stressed the importance of descriptive alt text, which can help people with disabilities understand the content of an image.

Through accurate and descriptive writing, alt text can provide a snapshot of an image or graphic for those who are blind or have low vision. This important detail can help these users understand what the image is about and get a sense of the information it contains.

It’s highly recommended to write alt text that accurately describes an image for someone who can’t see it.

As much as possible, do not use generic text like repeating product names. Instead, focus on creating interesting and unique content to engage the readers.

Final Thoughts

Alt text is an essential part of website SEO and accessibility. It helps Google understand what images are about and provides a way for users with visual impairments to understand the content of images.

While this may not directly impact a page’s performance on the search engine results pages, providing accessibility for all users is a step in the right direction. It helps to create a better user experience for everyone.

Improve Your Page’s Accessibility with the Best SEO Practices

If you wish to improve website SEO, alt text may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, they are incredibly important for both web users and search engine crawlers, which determine a website’s rankings. The experts at position1seo.co.uk can help you maximise your website’s potential by improving your alt text.

We will work with you to create alt texts that accurately describe the images on your website. Apart from improving your website’s rankings, our work will also make it easier for web users to find the information they are looking for. We can help you create SEO-friendly content that will rank well in Google and produce leads and website traffic, regardless of the industry you’re in.

Among the services we provide are search engine optimisation, pay-per-click management, and social media marketing. We utilise all the most up-to-date and effective SEO content creation, brand marketing, and website optimisation techniques to help you get the most out of your online presence. Our years of experience and focus on customer satisfaction will ensure that your website is a success.

Contact us right now to know how you can improve your overall website SEO quality, rankings, and traffic! We offer a free consultation so you can speak with one of our experts about your specific needs and find out more about how we can help you. If you have any questions or concerns about our services, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0141 404 7515 or email jason@position1seo.com.

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