Images Versus Text, Using Alt Attribute

Web design optimisation

A web page should be easy for the human eye to read and get your message across quickly but at the same time, there are certain issues that could harm your SEO efforts and you should be aware of these. A common mistake I often come across on web sites created by the small business owner is the use of graphics and logos in place of text.

This might look fine to the human eye but as mentioned elsewhere here, the search engines cannot interpret an image easily and therefore they have limited information about the image’s purpose on a web page.

Correct Use of Image Alt Attribute

The image alt attribute provides valuable alternative text information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error in the src attribute, or if the user uses a screen text reader). If you do have an image, banner that you want to use on your web page you should also include the same information as normal page text.

Below is a good example of using the image alt attribute.

<img src=”business-image.jpg” alt=”This is an image of my business location” />

Do not just rely on an image to display text information unless it is impossible to avoid. With the development of advanced CSS styles, it is possible to create text effects that appear to the eye to look like image icons, but are still in fact plain text. Search engines can easily understand text.

Do not be tempted to use images as hyperlinks alone; always make sure you include a text hyperlink to the same URL as the image points to. Search engines take into consideration the actual anchor text of a hyperlink, something they obviously cannot do with an image link.

On my business website, I use image links as a quick way for my website visitors to navigate my site but I also have text versions of the same links for the benefit of the search engines and people using text only browsers.

As mentioned earlier, images combined with good description tags do not harm SEO at all, but using only images as a means of displaying text or messages is considered bad SEO practice. Text as content is your friend as it allows you many opportunities naturally to add key-phrases on a web page.

If you have an image displaying your business name, then adding a description tag to the image and using your business name as text within your web page gives you a much better solution.

Consider carefully the file name you give an image when saving/uploading it for web site usage. Many search engines now have a ‘search images’ only setting and the results are based upon several factors, including the image file name which forms part of the complete URL and the ALT description.

An image file name is also great chance to use your key-phrases to gain another advantage online. Consider the following two file name examples:



It should be obvious to you by now, which image file name would have the greater SEO advantage. Combine good use of the image file name with an accurate ‘alt attribute description’ and you will have yet another chance to use your researched page key-phrases. Be sure that the image file name used does indeed reflect your web page topic.

Using The Alt Tag To Describe Your Business

Short video from Google:

Do not spam image file names with unnecessary keywords, just use the most important key-phrases and keep it simple like the second example above. Images are a great call to action but for good SEO you must also have good key-phrases describing the images where possible.

If you have an image gallery on your web site, be sure to use accurate descriptions for each image. Give as much information to the search engines as possible about each image.

Search engines cannot interpret an image as easily as the human eye can!

Author by Malcolm Oakley


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