In this article it says that you always should describe the picture with your alt text. For example a picture of a nervous worker on a website dedicated to negotiating higher salaries within the workplace should be named "nervous worker shaking boss's hand".

But logic states that the alt text for that image should be "anxiety while negotiating salary" because that is descriptive and more keyword rich. However it is mentioned that including keywords actually hurts your ranking.... I don't get it?

How is describing a picture so specifically to the point you don't include a keyword help SEO?

  • The description should be what you want it to be. It helps image search if the alt text is specific. It should be conversational. Otherwise, generally speaking, the image alt tag does little to nothing for the page itself. Just image search. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 16:56
  • 1
    The Alt tag came about for impaired users, not search engines... Write your alt tags for users, not search engines... that way, not only do you improve your user experience, Google will consider your alt tags more nature. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:02
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    The alt text is to provide content for those who cannot see the image. It might because it didn't download or the user is blind and using a screen reader. So wite alt content to describe the image so users know what the image contains. Not for what keywords you want to rank for.
    – John Conde
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:03
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    @SimonHayter beat me to it. :)
    – John Conde
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:03
  • @JohnConde yep :) Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Google and Bing hijacked the ALT attribute and because of that many webmasters and SEO guru's have been using the ALT tag for rankings and not what it was originally designed for, that being impaired users or users that have images disabled in their browser (useful for people on narrowband).

Alt descriptions should consist of actual image contents and not the keywords of the page, unless the description of the image happens to naturally have a keyword appear in it.

A few examples:

  1. An image of Man in Suit
    • Yes: A smart dressed man in a dark navy suit
    • No: A Professional Website Designer
  2. An plain image with the words Web Design in it
    • Yes: Image with the written text Web Design
    • No: Web Design in Bournemouth
  3. An image of a responsive website on a mobile phone
    • Yes: Example of a responsive website being displayed on a mobile phone
    • No: Responsive Website Design

You can find more examples on my blog post that I did earlier today, its still in draft and needs some grammar corrections but here you go.


Webmasters no longer need to fear about their keywords appearing at the front of the alt, at the end of the alt or even not appearing at all. Search engines can establish the contents and value of the page with many other elements such as: <title>, <meta>, <h1> and <p>, in fact Google and Bing can make sense of content with little or no markup, HTML markup just helps them understand a little easier but in no way is it absolutely required.

Sadly, it is the year 2017 and we are still seeing SEO guides mentioning things like the importance of keywords in Alt tags, key word density, headers and so forth, all these things that really mattered, no longer matter as much at all. You only need to take a good look at Pro Webmasters, excellent rankings… which is filled with thousands of pages with less than 90% of them having any images at all and with hardly any HTML optimisation within the user generated content areas of these pages.

Good usage of the ALT attribute is composing the image ALT value that consists of a short description that informs users the context of the image. Sometimes describing less is often more and other times more is more! Your descriptions should contain the elements of the image that you want them to visualise, it is not for telling Google to rank THIS because of this KEYWORD. Treat the ALT tag as a solution for partially impaired, completely impaired or for users that have disabled images in their browsers.

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