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When To Optimize Image Alt Text For SEO

June 2, 2020

Alt text (alternative text) can be added to website images at your discretion. Alt text is usually added to images for accessibility — in other words, to help website visitors who can’t see the image.

Image alt text can be useful for SEO, which is the topic of this post. You may have seen SEO advice telling you all images on your website should have optimized alt text. This is not always the case. Sometimes optimizing image alt text is a good idea, and sometimes it is not worth the effort. 

Will Optimizing Image Alt Text Drive Sales Leads or E-Commerce Revenue?

This is the basic question for deciding whether to optimize image alt text as part of your SEO campaign. In order to answer this question, you need to understand the path the user will take:

  • Google Search or Google Image Search is the starting point.
  • Users will enter keywords describing products they wish to purchase.
  • Google will return images.
  • Users may choose to click on your images and visit your website.

If the optimized image will drive Google users to your website, and if those users convert by placing an order or generating a sales lead, the image alt text is worth optimizing. If not, SEO efforts should be directed elsewhere.

How Do You Determine If You Should Optimize Your Image Alt Text? 

Several factors come into play in sizing up whether image alt text will generate conversions. The first step is to evaluate your business type and what keyword possibilities exist for the images in question. 

  • Your company should sell products (not services).
  • Your products need to be unique enough (you don’t have many competitors selling an identical product).
  • People need to search for your products using keywords that drive conversions.
  • There needs to be monthly search volume in Google for these keywords.

Take a company that sells “golf club shipping boxes” or “horizontal packaging machines”. These companies have products that can be described using keywords that are relevant, have search volume and drive conversions.

On the other hand, if your website only utilizes stock imagery, then it does not make sense to optimize image alt text. The same can be said for a website that sells commodity products.

The Proper Role of Image Alt Text Optimization in an SEO Campaign

Image alt text optimization may be helpful for SEO when there is an opportunity to connect your product images with targeted organic traffic that converts into sales leads or e-commerce revenue.

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