Use the image alt and title tags to get more visitors.

Have you ever done an image search and wonder how Google indexes images? What I mean is this, how does the spiders know what the image is all about? 

Surely the spiders cannot scan the picture and say, "Oh, this is an ice scream, let me place it in the ice scream image database."

Google's programmers are good, but not that good. 

Using the image alt tag or alternative text

When you insert a picture into your web page, you have to tell the spiders what the picture is all about. You do this using the img alt tag. Web builders such as Yola have a specific property in the picture widget to easily add these alt tags. Later I will explain how that works. 

First of all, let's discuss what the alt tag is used for in images. The alternative text tag is used to display text if the user, for some reason, disabled pictures in his or her browser. So, instead of a picture, he will see the text from the alt tag. In the early days of the internet people used to disable pictures to get better performance from their browsers. 

Loading a site with lots of pictures could take a lot of time if you have a 64k dial up modem. I used to have one and I tell you it was a very painful exercise to load a image rich website. I used to disable my pictures and the site loaded much quicker. 

These days it's not necessary as the internet got faster and faster. Ok, not the internet, but your internet connection. I cannot see any reason why you would want to  disable pictures in your web browser today. Maybe some people still do it, I don't know. 

Let's have a look at what the alt tag looks like. Below is an example.

 <img src="resources/computer_processor.jpg" alt="Computer processor">

The img src= is the actual picture on your website. The alt= is the text that you enter. In this example the picture called, computer_processor which is located in the resources directory on your website and the text to be displayed is, Computer processor.
Simple as that. You are probably wondering what this have to do with image search if everybody display's pictures in their browsers? Google actually uses the alt tag to index pictures in it's database. The only way for the spiders to actually understand what the image is about, is the alt= tag.

So, always remember to populate the alt tag when you insert an image into your page. This will ensure that your image is indexable by search engine spiders. 

How do you insert this alt tag? If you use a website builder such as Yola then you only need to fill in the properties in the picture widget. After you inserted the picture, click on the edit button and fill in the alternative text info. Below is a screenshot.

Click save and you're good to go. If you don't use a website builder, then insert the img alt tag like the example above.

Using the image title tag 

The img title tag is used when you move your cursor over an image and then text is displayed. This will give the visitor some extra information about the picture. This is not as widely used anymore. Yola does not include it in their picture properties widget. 

You have to insert this manually if you want to. Below is an example of this tag.

<img src="resources/computer_processor" title="Example of a computer processor" alt="Intel processor">

If the user moves his mouse cursor over the image, then the text in the title tag will be displayed. Notice that I included both title and alt tags in the image. This is perfectly fine. The title should be more descriptive than the alternative text. Remember, the user will see the title and not the alternative text. 

Which one should I use?

It seems that Google does not pay much attention to the title tag. If both are used, then Google will use the alternative text tag. You might want to insert the title for a better user experience but it's not necessary. 

I have read a lot of articles and forums on this subject and it looks like most search engine optimizers agree on this point. Use the alternative text tag. You may use the title for completeness.

These tips might not give you better search engine rankings, but it might just cause your image to be displayed on the first page if someone does an image search. This means more visitors to your site.