Optimizing Alt Tags for Search Engines

As mentioned in a previous section, a website that only has photos and graphics won’t do you much good if you want to show up high in search engine search results, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any. If used correctly, photos not only add to the quality of your content but they can also help you achieve higher search result placement. This can be accomplished through the use of a html tag known as the alt (short for alternative) tag. The alt tag is a tag that contains a text description of photos or graphics. When you add this little text description to your photo, it can be seen by holding your mouse over the photo until the description “pops up” over the photo.
Most search engines that really matter use text within alt tags to determine what placement in search results a web page will get for a particular query. Therefore, it is important that you add the alt tag to every photo and/or graphic on each web page you are doing search engine optimization on. Some exceptions can be made for graphics such as those used as backgrounds or for those used as part of a complex header image, but as a general rule make sure your images have alt tags.

Be sure to make your targeted keyword phrase part of the text within your alt tag. For example if you have a web page on marketing communications plans and you have a graphic that has a pie chart showing an example of a budget pie chart, include your targeted keyword phrase as part of the pie charts description. Assuming that your chosen keyword phrase is “search engine optimization plan,” your alt tag would look something like this:

alt=”Budget Pie Chart Example for a
search engine optimization Plan”

Don’t just label it “Pie Chart Example,” because it won’t help get you a higher search result placement. If you are using the graphic or photo as a link, use the alt tag to describe the web page that it is linking to. For example, if you have a photo that is linked to web page containing a sample search engine optimization plan, this would be your alt tag:

alt=”Link to a Sample of a search engine optimization Plan”

Even though most search engines don’t place much importance of the content within alt tags, when you are competing for highest search result placement you can possibly get, it is important to utilize every possible technique. If nothing else, the alt tags will provide a description of your photos on the occasion that your images won’t load or if one of your web page visitors has a visual disability.