ALT Text: Search Engine Result Page Influencer?

Posted on September 13, 2009


The alt text on image tags has traditionally been used to provide screen readers something to consume to aid those with visual disabilities. However, alt text provides a semantic meaning and description to images that search engines simply cannot read.

The following example search of “Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread” may point to an opportunity to influence position on the search engine result pages (SERPs) by employing best practices in naming images as part of an overall SEO strategy.

·         Of the top five results on Google, three out of five returns named an image on the ranked page with the alt text (or some slightly modified derivation of it) with "Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread":,, and ClosetCooking (on Blogger) all had alt text on their images. And the last one didn’t even have any PageRank! RecipeZaar (which had an image but no alt text) and (its own search return list of related recipes) were the other two sites in the top five that were reviewed. Of the five final results on the first page, none had alt text.

·         Of the top five results on Yahoo!, three were identical to the top five on Google, but more importantly they (those with the alt text) were the ones that secured the first, second and third position. The next two results (position four and five respectively) did not have alt text on their images. Of the remaining listings, only one had alt text on its image.

·         Of the top five results on Bing, little had changed. AllRecipes and AndreasRecipes still topped the SERPs in the first and second position, but they were the only two of the top five that were using alt text.


Posted in: SEO