Let's start this post off with a brief description of what image alt attributes are before we get to SEO. An image alt attribute (sometimes called an image alt tag) is a brief description of the content of an image. This description is provided to users who are using screen readers for accessibility. If your page doesn't load correctly on a device, this text is usually displayed where the image would be as well.
Search engine optimization is primarily about creating a fantastic and relevant user experience. Part of creating a fantastic experience is ensuring your website is fully accessible to visually impaired users—not just seeing users. At the heart of the matter, this is why image alt attributes are critical for the search engine optimization of your property management website.
How Do I Add an Image Alt Attribute?
If you're using HubSpot, adding image alt attributes is a breeze! We've found that the best way to do it is to save the images you are going to use with a file name that is your image alt attribute. For example, an image of a cat might have the image alt attribute of "orange tabby cat sitting in the sun." This highly descriptive tag shows us what is in the image if we cannot see it.
If you uploaded Img_4509 to HubSpot and forgot to rename it, you can change the alt attribute by selecting the photo in the editor and then changing the alt text. It is that simple—which is why every image in every blog post should always have alt text.
How Do Image Alt Attributes Help SEO?
Alt image attributes not only provide better user experiences, but they also give google cues about the content on the page. If I include pictures of orange cats in my blog, it might be a blog about orange cats. By using those descriptive words, I am giving Google clues; when added to the keywords, H1 tags (the page title), and the overall content, these clues assist Google in determining what the content is about.
For example, in this blog, I will include multiple photos showing how to add them and give them alt attributes with the keywords alt attributes in them. This is to let Google know this blog specifically targets alt image attributes.
Can I Name My Images Using Only the Keyword?
You can, but that is walking a line between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. Ultimately, the point of using alt attributes is to create a better experience for visually impaired users. If I name every image in this post—including the one of the orange cat —"alt image attribute," then the user would be pretty confused. When you employ "attribute stuffing," it creates a poor user experience. While Google probably won't blacklist your site for doing that, it isn't the best strategy.
Hopefully, your image is something relevant to the keyword topic, and your keyword will be in the alt attribute naturally. If it isn't—as in the example of my orange cat earlier—an alternative option is writing an alt attribute tag such as "alt attribute blog: orange cat laying in the sun." This gives the user enough clues to understand what the image is about while also including the keyword for search engine optimization.
What Images Need Alt Attributes?
Realistically, all images on your site should have alt attributes, from your Facebook social icon to the header image on your blog page, and every image in between.
A user needs to know the Facebook icon is a Facebook icon or that the blog header is a woman's mouth with letters coming out. We may take these images for granted, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take a little time when creating a site to make it the best it can be.
How Do I Know if I Need Alt Attributes?
There are some free tools out there to help you determine if you are missing alt attributes on your website such as seositecheckup.com, which scans for alt attributes and returns a report that looks like this:
If you are working with an expert property management marketing company like RentBridge, your marketing team should be taking care of the alt attributes on every new page they add to your site as standard protocol. If you are managing your own website, we suggest using a tool like HubSpot for your content management system: it makes it very easy to track the SEO tasks on each page you add. HubSpot shows users the SEO elements every web page should have and explains what seems to be missing—so you can correct it without having to remember every element of SEO on your own.
Do you want to optimize your website for peak search engine results? Download our "Property Manager's Guide to SEO in 2020" ebook. We'll take you through every element you need to optimize your site—and give you a 30-day plan so you can start getting the results you need to grow your doors.