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Image Alt Text vs. Image Title Attributes

Image optimization is often overlooked when it comes to SEO, despite the fact that Google has emphasized the importance of it for users and search engines. However, some people may be confused as to how exactly they can optimize their image attributes for SEO, and what exactly image alt text and titles are. This blog post will break it down for you and provide you with best practices for both.

The Image Tag

This is what a complete, properly optimized image tag should look like for an image like this:

redsweater

<img src=”red-outdoor-sweater.jpg” alt=” Men’s long sleeve red outdoor sweater” title=”Red Outdoor Sweater”/>

Now let’s break this tag down into its 3 separate parts.

  1. src=“red-outdoor-jpg” is the image file (or source) that is being displayed on the page.
  2. alt=“Our red outdoor sweaters are on sale now!” is the images alt text, which stands for alternate text. Its purpose is to describe the image textually so that search engines and screen readers (software used by the visually impaired) can understand what the image is.
  3. title=“Red Outdoor Sweater” is the image title, which as the name implies, is the title of your image.

To summarize, your image tag (the entire HTML code snippet) should always include the following two attributes; image alt text and image title.

How to Optimize the Image Filename

There isn’t too much to do with your image filename, but you should keep two things in mind. First, give descriptive and informative filenames for your images that contain relevant keywords. Filenames are sometimes used for the image’s snippet in Google image search results so it’s important they are written with slots users in mind. Second, use hyphens between the words in the filename; it’s best practice.

How to Optimize Alt Text

An image’s alt text describes the picture for search engines and screen readers. All images should have alt text. The text doesn’t need to be particularly lengthy; a sentence or two will suffice.

Whenever possible, include one of your page’s target keywords in the alt text as this could improve your keyword ranking for the page, and it will help the image rank well for the keyword during an image search.

However, avoid stuffing your image with keywords as this makes the text unhelpful for users and might be seen by Google as spammy. You can see a good example of alt text above; a bad example would be something like this:

alt=“Our red outdoor sweaters are on sale now! These red outdoor sweaters are perfect for winter. Buy a red outdoor sweater today!”

As you can see, this looks spammy and doesn’t provide any additional value for the user.

How to Optimize the Image Title

The image alt title attribute doesn’t have any impact on keyword rankings because search engines don’t crawl them, so if you had to choose between optimizing alt text and titles, you should choose the former every time. That said, image titles are displayed when your mouse hovers over an image in some browsers (like Firefox and Opera) so it does improve user experience to have a proper title set. You don’t need to do anything crazy here; just write a quick and easy title for the image that complements what you wrote for the alt text and call it a day.

TL;DR:

In the context of the image tag, alt text displays when an image doesn’t load and describes what the image is, and the image title attribute displays on mouse-over and is just the images title. Alt text has potential SEO benefit, titles do not. Make sure all images include at least alt text (with relevant keywords included), and ideally a title as well.

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