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Is alt text a Google ranking factor?

Do alt tags affect your organic Google search rankings?Alternate text is used to help the computer read the image.But do alt tags affect your organic search rankings?Read on to find out if there is any link between alt text and improved Google rankings.

Disclaimer: Alt text is a ranking factor

What is alt text?

Alternative text is an HTML image attribute.It allows you to create alt text versions of images when they fail to load or have accessibility issues.

Due to its importance to Google image search, it is considered a ranking factor.

Alternative Text as a Ranking Factor: Evidence

Google has emphasized the importance of alt text in a number of ways.

In Google Search Central's "A Beginner's Guide to SEO" they state the following on the use of alt tags:

"...Optimize image filenames and alt text to make your images easier for image search projects like Google Images to understand.

In Google Search Central's advanced SEO documentation, you can find a page on image best practices.In a section called "About Alternative Text," Google discusses the use of alternative text.

"Google uses alt text as well as computer vision algorithms and page content to understand the subject of an image.Also, if you decide to use an image as a link, alt text in the image is useful as anchor text.

While they don't specify that alt text will improve your rankings, they do warn webmasters that improper use can harm your site.

"Avoid stuffing alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing), as this can lead to a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.

They also provide the following examples of good and bad alt text usage.

In 2020, Google search advocate John Mueller answered a question about alt text citing images during Google webmaster office hours.In his answer, he talks about how Google uses it:
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"What happens with the alt attribute for search is that we use it to better understand the image itself, especially for image search.So if you don't care about image search, you don't really need to worry about alt text from a search perspective.

However, if you do want these images to show up in image searches, sometimes it makes sense to show fancy quotes in image searches, then using the alt attribute is a great way to tell us it's on that image, and we'll start with your around the page to get additional information on how we rank this landing page.

Moz mentioned ranking factors related to alt text.Instead of alt text being a ranking factor in itself, Moz suggests:

"...Alternative text gives you another opportunity to include your target keyword.Since on-page keyword usage still pulls weight as a search engine ranking factor, it's in your best interest to create alt text that both describes the image and contains the keyword or keyword phrase you're targeting.

In 2021, during a Twitter discussion about the benefits of ALT text for SEO, Google developer Martin Splitt said:

"Yes, alt text is important for SEO too!"

Alternative Text as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

There is no specific mention of alt text as a ranking factor for Google searches.

Obviously, if you want your images to show up in Google Images results, you really need to make descriptive, non-spammy alt text.

So, based on comments from Google representatives, and all supporting information we found, we refer to the alt text as a confirmed Google ranking factor.

Extended reading:

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Top 8 Google Ranking Factors - What Really Matters for SEO

Are 301 redirects a Google ranking factor?

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