Why are Image Attributes Important to SEO and Web Designing?

In the search engine marketing industry today, the aim of the search engine optimization undertaken by any SEO company has become twofold; first of all, to make your website appeal to the algorithms behind the major search engines and boost your natural rankings, and secondly, to improve the user experience and convert their interest into cold hard cash for your business.


There are a whole host of resources on the net that describe successful SEO method, but one crucial process that’s often overlooked is that of adding image attributes to your page. Any SEO UK company or budding SEO expert should take this important technique into consideration when carrying out onsite optimization work.

Alt attributes (often called alt tags, incorrectly) work in the following way. The photos or graphics displayed on your pages can actually be designated a snippet of descriptive text, via HTML, that will work to indicate the relevancy of that chosen image to the search engine bots crawling your site for information. Because search engine algorithms can’t read image files, the text serves as an explanation of the image’s relevancy and therefore aids your SEO. From the human point of view, those individuals using browsers that don’t support image files or graphics (such as Linux) aren’t missing out, and neither are the consumers using screen-readers, such as those with impaired vision.

Adding alt attributes adds to the accessibility of your website and ensures that all users are catered for. Your image attribute will also often appear when the user drags their mouse over the graphic in question, and noticing a well-thought out description of the picture only adds to their impression of your website in general.

An SEO company would use alt attributes to their advantage even further by embedding relevant keywords and search terms into the code. However, bear in mind that the shorter the alt attribute the better, so don’t simply stuff your attribute with a bundle of conflicting search terms.

Although the relevance of adding alt attributes has been played down in recent times because of previous spamming and abuse issues, it’s still a valid SEO technique, and actually very important if the image is question also acts as a hyperlink.  You also need to consider the widespread use of Google Images. The crawlers will take the relevancy of a graphic and place it in the appropriate Google Images search, so if your picture is missing an alt attribute it’s unlikely to be indexed in this way and you could miss out on potential traffic from this source.

Additionally, when optimizing for Google Images (a small consideration to some but a platform often ignored), make sure that the image you upload to your site is in a standard format and consider adding information to their dedicated image labeling service. Any SEO company will be able to explain how this is achieved.

The case of the alt attribute is a great example of an SEO technique that is often forgotten but still essential to the overall success of your site. Matt Cutts, a leading SEO industry figure and Google engineer who often provides insightful tips into effective search engine optimization, has published a number of videos and articles stressing the importance of alt attributes as a contribution to the functionality of your site.  If your SEO company doesn’t take the image attribute seriously, question their integrity as a search engine optimization agency, as every small change will eventually add up to larger SERP victories.


By Luigi

Co-founder of Designrfix

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  1. as people become more aware of the way that they can search, so should we, the designers, to push them our images.

  2. I agree with post, it takes a minute to add keywords especially when you process images in Photoshop (File > File Info), Lightroom (Keywords panel) and Photoshop Elements (File > File Info)

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