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The Benefits of Placing Keywords in ALT Tags

Updated on January 14, 2010

What are Keywords and Their Role in SEO

Keywords are the basic building blocks of any SEO strategy. These are the words or phrases that internet users type into search engines to find the specific topic they are searching for. The logic here is that the more optimized your site is with these special keywords, the more likely your pages will show up in the top search engine results.

Keywords, however, are fought over by competing web marketers who wanted the ones that will earn them the most number of returns. This is teh reason why people spend hours searching for those highly competitive keywords. And once they have found the, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty of creating content centered around these keywords.

Each of the articles and blog posts they write will surely include these keywords. Each of the links they create will have the keywords in the anchor text. But how about the images on a page? They are all part of the page content, right? How does one optimize them? The answer to these questions is found in the image attribute called the ALT tag.

How To Optimize ALT Tags

ALT tags are used originally for informing webpage visitors what the image is about. This is in case the image loads slow due to several factors: the size of the image, the number of images on the page, the length or size of the page, the memory space available in your PC, and the speed of the internet connection. No matter what the cause of the slow loading of the page placing descriptions of the images inside their ALT tags will tell readers what they show.

But for the purposes of optimizing your page for your targeted keywords we can make use of the ALT tags. When you formulate your descriptions for your images make sure to include the keywords you are using to optimize your site. Also place a variety of these keywords' synonyms into the ALT tags of the images.

Limit your description, however, to a maximum of 20 words. These do not necessarily include the stop words the, and, is, of, for, in, at, or, etc. These are not read by search engines and are often ignored during a search query unless commanded to include them through a plus sign (+) search operator.

Basic HTML To Format Your ALT Tags

For those uninitiated into HTML coding here is a brief lesson for you. This is how you should format your ALT tag descriptions:

<a href="" title="Downlaod page for the Keyword Research Sofwtare"><img src="" alt="keyword research software"/></a>

Notice that I have wrapped my image in a link to make it clickable. More than that I have created an opportunity for me to optimize not only the ALT tag but also the TITLE tag for the link. I have included my targeted keyword phrase "keyword research software".

We need to remember, however, that to optimize effectively we shouldn't resort to keyword stuffing. This is a Black Hat SEO technique that major search engines, particularly Google, abhor. If you are going for effective optimization try placing your targeted keywords as near as possible to the beginning of your ALT tag sentence.

Benefits of Keyword Placement in ALT Tags

The benefits of keywords in ALT tags are few actually. The most important places that keywords should be found aren't in ALT tags for images or TITLE tags for links, but inside the PAGE Title tag and the META tag for description right in the beginning of any webpage document. They are the kind of information the search engines make use of that's why they give such a higher importance on those areas.

But if you can not edit your webpage's Page Title or its meta tags then the next best thing for you to do is to optimize your articles or blog posts for your targeted keywords. And one way is to insert keywords in ALT tags for the search engines. This is because the search engines only read text on any webpage. They can not read images or videos or any embedded object like Java applets or Flash-based objects.

Your images will also be optimized for Google's or Yahoo's image searchif you place keywords inside their ALT tags. An internet user who searches for images and clicks on an image found on your site becomes a possible return visitor. The image's link opens a new window where the page on which the image is found is opened. This page in effect becomes a landing page. In fact any webpage on your website can serve as a landing page.

Using the SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool


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    • FindYourSearch profile image

      FindYourSearch 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Make sure each alt tag is relevant to the particular image. You touched on this when you mentioned keyword stuffing. Filling image alt tags with cookie-cutter key-phrases is a red flag to search engines that you are probably gaming the alt tag system. Pick one per image, and make sure it sounds natural. Natural, descriptive key-phrases are better for users as well.

      Thanks for posting this informative hub that will no doubt help many people. :)

    • clairebretana profile image

      clairebretana 7 years ago from Iloilo City, Philippines

      No, magnoninternation. Optimizing the ALT tag for images is for usability and accessibility, which helps your human users who may have difficulties seeing the images either because of a handicap or because their Internet connection is too slow. Usability and accessibility is also part of search engine optimization.

    • clairebretana profile image

      clairebretana 8 years ago from Iloilo City, Philippines

      To seo chicago and Bharath Reddy: Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. :)

    • profile image

      Bharath Reddy 8 years ago

      Hey that was awesome dude...Looking forward for more of this kind..Thanks!!

      Bharath Reddy

    • profile image

      seo chicago comsulting 9 years ago

      great posting very imformative posting will be very usefull and helpfull for peopl :)

    • clairebretana profile image

      clairebretana 9 years ago from Iloilo City, Philippines

      Thank you for the compliment, Trsmd. :)

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 9 years ago from India

      very nice information..