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Importance of ALT attributes for SEO image optimization

Alt and title attribute

One of the most common on-page optimization mistakes is the missing alt attribute for pictures or the misuse of it. People recognize pictures easily, but search engines have difficulties when it comes to image recognition. Let’s take this simple example. The name of the below picture might be anything, from DSC00120.JPEG to CAT.JPEG – for best SEO practices you shouldn’t use this kind of generic names, instead you can name it “cat playing” or even better “cat playing with a barn of yarn”:

cat playing with a barn of yarn


There’s a cute cat playing with a ball of yarn. We see this but:

  • Search engine crawlers (bots) cannot interpret the image.
  • People with slow internet connections, blind users that utilize screen readers to understand web content or users with standard text-only mode browsers cannot recognize it.

So, what can you do to help – or as some say “how to optimize images for better search engine rankings”? Simply add an accurate and easy to understand alt attribute to your image – also known as alternate text. The correct syntax is <img src=”DSC09887.jpeg” alt=”text”>. Instead of the “text” we’ll replace it with:

<img alt=”Cute cat playing with a ball of yarn”>

If the image is only for decoration purposes use the alt=”” attribute – also known as a blank alt attribute. Last but not least: optimize images for users and not for better search engine rankings. Once you have implemented these attributes you can easily check your site/blog for missing image attributes with freely available online tools such as Image & Link Analyzer.

Additionally you can check-out below Matt Cutt’s video explaining the importance of ALT attributes.

I’m Andreas, the founder and owner of BullSEO. I’m a former busker, painter, turned IT geek at the (very) late age of 22. After 8 years of IT&Sec adventures, I left it all behind and started my own blog. SEO and Online Marketing techniques came naturally on the way.

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