• Alt Text & Image SEO

Alt Text: What It Is & How To Write It

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 3 min read
Alt Text: What It Is & How To Write It


In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

Alt text is often overlooked, but every image on your website should have it. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is crucial for search engine bots and users with screen readers. Alt text is a source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was to describe an image that could not be loaded. Years ago, when the internet was slower, alt text helped users understand the content of an image that was too heavy to load.

Today, alt text helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context. More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • For Accessibility: Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) understand the image’s content.

  • For SEO: Alt text provides additional context to search engines, helping them understand the page’s content better.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web is a visual experience, making alt text crucial. It translates the image’s content into words, making it accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not yet clever enough to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an essential element of on-page SEO optimization. Proper alt text optimization improves your website’s chances of ranking in Google image searches, which can be a significant source of traffic, especially for ecommerce websites where users often start their product search with a Google image search.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Beyond SEO, alt text is vital for accessibility, making the web inclusive for everyone, including people with disabilities using screen readers. Describing the image’s content in the alt text helps these users understand the image and the page’s content.

Alt Text Examples

Good Alt Text Examples

Consider an SEO audit guide containing screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog. Good examples of alt text include:

<img src="google-search-console-coverage-report.jpg" alt="The Coverage Report in Google Search Console showing the number of indexed and excluded pages">

<img src="google-search-console.jpg" alt="Google Search Console tool from Google">

<img src="screaming-frog-html-pages.jpg" alt="List of HTML pages in Screaming Frog">

<img src="screaming-frog.jpg" alt="Screaming Frog crawl in progress">

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

Examples of bad alt text include keyword stuffing or spamming:

<img src="google-search-console-coverage-report.jpg" alt="seo audit free, seo audit cheap, seo audit specialist, seo audit, seo audits">

<img src="google-search-console.jpg" alt="google seo, seo google, google, seo, google search console seo">

<img src="screaming-frog-html-pages.jpg" alt="seo auditor, seo audit, seo audits">

<img src="screaming-frog.jpg" alt="seo audit">

Common Alt Text Mistakes

  • Failure to use alt text or using empty alt text.

  • Using the same alt text for different images.

  • Using very general alt text that does not describe the image.

  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text.

Alt Text Writing Tips

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text.

  • Describe the image in detail but keep it relatively short.

  • Use target keywords naturally as part of the image’s description.

  • Don’t use text on images. Add all text in the HTML code.

  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Just describe the image’s content.

  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Inspecting Elements

Inspect an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) to check if a given image has alt text.

Bulk Analysis

For bulk analysis, use tools like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb to crawl the site and review the alt text of all website images.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.


What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alt text provides a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed, helping users understand the image content and aiding search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

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Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments, making the web more inclusive.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your website's images are accessible and optimized for SEO, enhancing both user experience and search engine performance.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins

Ranktracker's CEO/CMO & Co-founder

Felix Rose-Collins is the Co-founder and CEO/CMO of Ranktracker. With over 15 years of SEO experience, he has single-handedly scaled the Ranktracker site to over 500,000 monthly visits, with 390,000 of these stemming from organic searches each month.

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