Kate Online

Yoast SEO, a WordPress plugin showing a badly performing page

SEO in plain English: Alt Tags

FAQs from the community

Recently while on Facebook’s BWI page, I stumbled upon a question regarding a prevalent SEO problem: Writing Alt Tags.

“Image Keyphrase: Images on this page do not have alt attributes that reflect the topic of your text. Add your keyphrase or synonyms to the alt tags of relevant images!”

“Another YAWN from Yoast SEO 🥱
Yes I know their links should help me fix things, but is there anyone out there who can help with SEO in plain, clear English language?
The comment above refers to alt tags which I now always add to images though I’m not 100% sure on how much detail to go into 🤔 The advice above seems to suggest I include the topic of the blog, I thought it was to describe the image to those who are visually impaired?
Would so love to see a green smiley not an orange or red one 😆

The following excerpt is taken from the lovely group Business Women in Wiltshire. Click their logo to redirect to the Wiltshire group’s page.

Yoast SEO, a recommended plugin for SEO in WordPress.
Yoast SEO is a fantastic plugin for WordPress. I use it myself for on page SEO on this site – it gives you little boxes to fill in relevant information for each page & writes it into the code for you.
BUT it really is like an overzealous spell checker sometimes in how determined it is to point out your errors. I wish you could hit a snooze button on it occasionally (once you’re happy with the SEO on the page, of course!)

What ARE alt tags?

Alt tags/Alt attributes (all the same thing) are referring to the description that pops up on a page if the image fails to load. It’s used to describe the image that’s there, which is helpful for people using accessibility tools, or for robots that crawl your site to gage how relevant the images on your site are. Here’s where to fill it in in WordPress, for example:
Where to write your Alt Tags or Alt Text within WordPress. The correct box is labelled 'Alt Text'.
In this alt text box (or wherever your website lets you put alt text), you want to stick in a description that appropriately describes the image. If the image is decorative (e.g. leaves in the background of a page), you don’t need to provide a description at all. You can safely ignore Yoast’s suggestions for images like that.
In an ideal world, yes, the description is related to your business or includes key words that your clients would use to find your business. BUT, if the description doesn’t actually describe the image, you risk taking a hit on your SEO instead. It becomes spam advertising built into your page – so, Yoast hasn’t provided the best suggestion here. Below I’ve provided some key tips for you. Stick to these and you will be absolutely fine.

Best Alt Tag Practices

Describe the image

Describe the content and purpose of the image. Include important details, like brands or written information.

Keep it clear & concise

Keep the language simple & short. Avoid phrases like ‘this is a picture of’, or ‘a graphic of’. 

Add context

How is this image relevant to the content? If you’re talking about teams within businesses for example, you could describe an image of a meeting as ‘a group of people collaborating together’ 

Include keywords IF appropriate

Where relevant include your keywords! If you can’t include your keywords in an organic way, try changing the image to one that might involve them.

In short

When writing Alt Tags, keep it simple, describe what’s happening in the image, and try to keep it to 10-15 words at maximum. Decorative images can be ignored.
Would you like to always see a positive verdict from Yoast on your WordPress site? Check out my blog for more SEO tips, as well as design, hosting & domain advice.

Contact me for a free 30 minute review of your existing site. Or maybe you need help starting a project? Let’s have a chat.