Every Friday, Remora's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Steve Seeley, is here to answer any questions you might have related to your dealership's digital presence. From tracking data in Google Analytics to website optimization and running campaigns in Google Ads, no question will go unanswered. With this in mind, let's go ahead jump in to this week's edition of FAQ Fridays.

As the technology around us advances, search engines become more and more adept at discerning the context and meaning of images on the web. For instance, with the advent of Google Lens, Google is able to detect certain things within an image and then show you images related to what you are currently viewing. Facebook also has facial recognition software, and you can bet that Google is still working to advance their own take on this technology as well.

However, this does not mean that a search engine can parse and understand your images flawlessly every single time. There are still some things that we have to do to help a search engine better understand the images that we use on our websites, so let's take a minute to talk about alt text, image title text, and the differences found between the two.

What Is Image Alt Text?

In order for Google to understand what your image is about, you need to set the image alternate text, or what is more commonly known as “alt text." Other names for this within the search engine optimization (SEO) industry are "alt description," "alt attribute," and the incorrect term of "alt tag." The alt text should be just a few words that describe what the image is in better detail.

Why do we need to even use alt text for our images?

  1. If the image cannot be displayed on the page, the alt text will be shown in its place.
  2. If the viewer is using a screen reader, the alt text will be read out loud from the screen reader so they can fully understand what the image represents.
  3. The alt text is how a search engine knows what the image is about and can help it rank better within an image search.

Example of Creating Alt Text for Your Images

New red 2019 honda crv driving in Jacksonville FL.

Here is a picture of a red 2019 Honda CR-V. Let’s take a look at some examples of alt text variations that you can use to better describe this image and ensure that it catches the attention of Google when the time comes for this search engine to populate image search result pages.

Too Generic

Example of generic image alt text car dealerships should avoid using.

Here you can see the alt text being used is just "honda crv." This is far too generic, so you will want to specify more information about the particular CR-V showcased in your image if you plan on catching the eye of Google and other search engines.

Not As Generic

Example of alt text that is slight more descriptive.

Now you have used alt text that matches the year to the vehicle type. Not as generic as the first example, but still not the best choice for your alt text.

Getting Better

Example of alt text with multiple descriptive details.

the alt text “red 2019 honda crv” now describes the color of the vehicle that is shown in the image. This will help you rank this image for a "color/year" search, but it is still not the best option for your image alt text.

Here We Go

Example of highly descriptive alt text dealerships should use to help rank with search engines.

“New red 2019 honda crv driving in Jacksonville FL” is a great alternative text to better describe this image. You are doing a few things here:

  1. You are specifying that this is a new vehicle.
  2. You are being specific on the year and color.
  3. You outlined the make and model portrayed in the image.
  4. You specified the geolocation where your dealership is physically located.

Naturally, proper image alt text will not guarantee that your images will rank in the top spots, but this is a step in the right direction. There are several other factors that go into ranking your images, but that deserves a conversation of its own, so let's plan on diving into that topic another day.

What Not To Do

Example of keyword stuffing in image alt text.

This is a perfect example of what not to do with your image alt text. Yes, you want to be descriptive regarding what the image contains, but you do not want to stuff it full of various keywords. All you are doing is sending mixed signals as to what the image truly represents, and you will never rank highly for any of the terms stuffed into this text. This is not 2008, so please understand that this tactic no longer works with today's search algorithms.

What Mixed Signals Are You Referring To?

  1. Is this a new Honda CR-V?
  2. Is this a used Honda CR-V?
  3. Is this a pre-owned Honda CR-V?
  4. What is the location of the vehicle portrayed in the image?

Yes, you want to try and rank for various terms related to your 2019 Honda CR-V that you have for sale. However, stuffing all of the keywords into the image alt text will not help you in any way. You are trying to say this image is of a new, used, and certified pre-owned Honda CRV. You then list out the next closest cities to your dealership, thinking this will help you rank better in those areas.

The search engines, especially Google, are not dumb; they know you are not located in those other cities. Listing out cities like that is a tactic from the past that no longer holds any water, so please remove it from your “SEO Checklist."

A better plan? Send the right signal for that image or set of images.

What Related Content Do You Have Around That Image?

Another signal that a search engine, especially Google, will look at as it begins to determine how to parse and rank a page comes in the form of the content that is next to or surrounding the image you used.

Let’s say the content describes the brand new 2019 Honda CR-V with various specs and pricing for the inventory found at your Honda dealership located in Jacksonville, FL. You would want to use image alt text that compliments this content and helps Google connect this image to the information you've presented, just like I did in the example offered up above. In doing so, you can ensure that the content you have created matches that of the image (or set of images) that you have on that particular part of your page.

You can have multiple models listed out on the same page, just make sure your alt text and surrounding content is tailored to that specific image. You will not rank any higher by trying to load this text with spam related to new, used, and pre-owned models in "city 1," "city 2," "city 3," "city 4," etc. In some cases, Google may even ignore that altogether as you are clearly keyword stuffing your alt text.

So What Is Image Title Text?

The image title text will only show up when a user stops their mouse over the image. If an image title is specified, a little box will appear and show your viewer the title of that particular image. From an SEO standpoint, these are not needed as the search engines, specifically Google, do not use the image title text as a ranking factor. They only use the image alt text, thus it is imperative that you have those set correctly as described above.

You also have to keep in mind that mobile and tablet users will never see this information anyhow as they have no way of stopping a non-existent cursor over the image to see the image title text.

What Do I Do Now?

Focus your time on creating relevant image alt text that is specific to that particular image. Spamming out various keywords or locations will get you nowhere and is a tactic of the past. You can ignore even using the image title text because the search engines do not use it for anything relevant — and in most cases, people just copy the alt text as the title text which is a waste of time and space.

Do You Have Specific Website or Marketing Related Questions You Would like Answered?

Have a burning question about your dealership's website or online marketing endeavors that you would love to see answered in this weekly feature? Then be sure to send in this query via our contact form and there is a good chance it will be featured on an upcoming FAQ Friday post.