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Is the alt text used in Google image search rankings?

Examine the issue of whether or not alt tags affect your position in organic search results. What you should know is as follows.

To assist computers in reading photos, there is alt text.

But do alt tags impact your placement in organic search results?

Continue reading to find out if increased ranks in Google Image Search results are related to alt text.

The Claim: Alt Text Is A Ranking Factor

Alt text: What is it?

An HTML image attribute is alt text. If your image won’t load or has an accessibility problem, you can make an alternate text version of it.

Because of its importance to Google Image Search, it is considered a ranking factor.

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: The Evidence

Google emphasizes how important alt text is in helping Google Image Search recognize your photographs.

The Advanced SEO instructions for Google Search Central includes a page on image best practices. Google covers the use of alt text in a section titled “about alt text.”

“Google employs alt text, computer vision algorithms, and the page’s contents to determine the image’s subject matter. Additionally, if you want to use an image as a link, the alt text in the image serves as valuable anchor text.

The company cautions website owners that inappropriate usage of alt text can harm your website, even if it makes no claims that it would increase your results.

“When writing alt text, put your attention on producing informative, helpful language that is relevant to the page’s content and employs keywords effectively.

Avoid keyword stuffing, also known as overloading alt attributes with terms, as it detracts from the user experience and could make your site appear spammy.

It also offers the following examples of good and bad alt text usage.

According to the Google Sites Help page, photos may come with pre-filled alt text that may contain keywords you don’t want to optimize.

It’s a good idea to make sure the alt text is what you want because some photographs automatically add it.

For instance, a text description of the image is incorporated in the file when I download stock photos.

When uploaded to a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, the text descriptions may need to be moved to the alt text field or modified to remove unnecessary keywords.

According to Google Search Central’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,” alt tags should be used when utilizing images as links.

The alt text for an image that is used as a link will be handled similarly to the anchor text of a text link, according to Google. However, text links might accomplish the same thing, therefore we don’t advise utilizing too many photos for links in your site’s navigation.

During a Google Webmaster Office Hours in 2020, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, responded to a query regarding the alt text of a quote image. In his response, he described how Google employs it:

“With the alt attribute, we use it for Search to better comprehend the images themselves, especially for Image Search. Therefore, from a search perspective, you don’t really need to bother about alt text if you didn’t care about image search.

However, using the alt attribute is a good way to let us know this is on that image and we’ll get more information from around your page in regards to how we can rank that landing page if you do want these images to be shown in Image Search, which sometimes it makes sense to show fancy quotes in Image Search as well.

Alt text ranking elements are mentioned by Moz. Moz suggests the following in place of mentioning that the alt text is a ranking factor:

“…alt text provides you with yet another chance to use your target keyword. It’s in your best interest to write alt text that both describes the image and, if possible, incorporates a keyword or keyword phrase you’re targeting because on-page keyword usage still counts as a search engine ranking factor.

Later in 2021, Mueller noted that alt text is not magic during a conversation about optimization for indexing purposes.

“My understanding was that alt attributes are required for HTML5 validation, so if you can’t use them with your platform, that sounds like a bug. That said, alt text isn’t a magic SEO bullet.”

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Alt text is a confirmed ranking factor for image search only. You should craft descriptive, non-spammy alt text to help your images appear in Google Image Search results.

Definitely not a ranking element in Google Search is alt text. Google has made it clear that alt text functions in general search much like regular page content. It’s not meaningless, but it’s also not a ranking criteria that is taken into account independently for your website content.

This is not to say that you should disregard alt text. For screen readers, it’s a useful accessibility tool. Think about what you want someone who cannot see the image to understand when you are creating the alt text.

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