One of the perks of marketing in the natural products industry is that you get to feature photos of beautiful plants, succulent foods, happy harvests and healthy looking people. The whole idea is to present and position products that are created by nature, support sustainable practices and provide wellness. And photos are a great way to back up these claims.
Websites for natural products feature countless photos of their natural ingredients. It’s an essential way to show their customers their natural origins.
But here’s the rub: if you’re searching for those photos on the web, you can’t find them unless they have alt tags assigned to them. Google, Yahoo! and Bing are not yet able to identify images by themselves. There needs to be writing attached to them so they can find them: Thus the alt tag.
Web designers and SEO experts know this, but go on many natural products sites and you’ll be surprised how many of their pictures don’t have alt tags or have alt tags that have limited search value.
If you don’t think that’s important, then you’re not optimizing your website for the search engines.
Some key points to consider:
The Alt Tag is NOT a caption. The sole purpose of an alt tag is to help the search engines find you. Think about your keywords and think about how you’d like your photo to attract people. A caption that reads, “Joe and Cindy at the Echinacea harvest” makes sense on the website, but are those critical keywords that your prospects search for? An alt tag for the same photo could be “organically grown Echinacea harvest – Name of company” since more people are likely to search for those keywords than the words “Joe and Cindy.”
Don’t abuse keywords. There is a temptation to stuff as many keywords into an alt tag as possible. After all, you don’t read the alt tags – only the search engines do. Wrong. Too many keywords – otherwise known as high keyword density – can trigger spam filters and that might result in a penalty for your sites ranking.
Alt Tags are more important than ever. Everyone talks about the importance of title tags and H1 tags for search value, but recent research from SEOMoz shows that keywords in the alt attribute (alt tag) are given more weight than title tags and H1 tags, and almost equal with keywords in the body of text. Bing even gives alt tags more juice than keywords in the URL.
Natural Products consumers like photos of natural things. I don’t have stats for this, but with almost 20 years of marketing natural products I’ve noticed that people interested in organics, sustainability and the environment love beautiful photographs of all things natural. A beautiful shot will create an emotional attachment to a food, product or ingredient. When searching, these same people not only look at Google Search – Web but also at Google Search –Images. Having trouble getting on the first pages of the search engines? If you alt tag correctly, you have a much better shot of getting into the first pages of Images (and, if you go onto Images, you’ll note that 10 pages fit on one).
Want more convincing? I suggest you go into your back end analytics and try to figure out how visitors are being directed to your site. See how many come from an image search. If there aren't any or very few, check your alt tags to see if they are keyword optimized. If there are a lot, then chances are you’re doing a great job with your alt tags.
Have any of you out there had organic search success with your alt tags?