Ecommerce Image SEO: How to Write Alt Text For Product Shots

Brown Owl
Brown Owl
Photo credit Joe Green

Alt tags are a frequent to-do item on each search engine optimization checklist. But there’s much confusion surrounding the importance of optimizing Alt tags. It’s something that I absolutely take for granted as an expert in my field. However, I’ve come to realize that few people know how any of this works. When you set up your brand new Shopify store, nobody stops by to explain to you what you should be paying attention to. Pretty images aren’t enough. 

In this article, I’m going to teach you the ways I optimize image Alt text to improve online visibility. These tips will help you get your products seen by more people in Google.

OK great, but what is an Alt text?

Alt texts are also known as Alt Tags. They provide a description of the content of an image for search engines and website readers. Basically, if the visitor is not able to see the image, for whatever reason, the Alt text is there to describe it. 

Who Uses Alt Text, Anyway?

Gartner predicts that by 2021, brands will earn 30% more revenue by leveraging voice and visual search.

Alt text (alternative text) describes an image on a web page. It lives in the HTML code and isn’t visible on the page itself, but it is important for SEO. One of the main reasons that you should include images on your ecommerce store is because it helps you rank better in Google search results. I’d love to tell you that most people fill this description out to help improve the accessibility of their content…but it would be a lie. 

How can Alt Attributes Help Your Shopify Store?

What motivates people is SEO. However, you should know that in Canada, accessibility issues matter for roughly a quarter of all adults. I’m not willing to ignore a quarter of my potential clients and neither should you. Bottom line: you should never underestimate the impact an optimized Alt text can have on your online store. 

Sometimes, Images Perform Much Better Than Product Pages

Pink Glitter Converse Results

As you can see in this case, images show up first in Google. Very often, websites that show up first in picture results aren’t the ones showing up in the first positions in the main results. If you are a smaller business, chances are you can outpace the big players in image search results.

How to add “Alt” texts to product images?

You need to go into Shopify, in your product listing and click on an image. From then on, you really need to be careful: describe the image itself and not the product. 

How Should You Use Alt Attributes for Your Products?

Does every single image need Alt? Well, no, not exactly. Prioritize product images and if you use promotional banners that contain text in them, you should optimize them. If the image is purely for decorative purposes, do not bother. Product images are the type of images that definitely need an Alt text. Don’t skimp on your image size, quality and the descriptive text that will be in the Alt text. 

How to write good Alt text for ecommerce?

What should an image Alt text say? That’s the million dollar question. Here are some of our tips to help you figure it out. If you need to go more in depth, we offer training. If you simply need someone to handle your SEO strategy, get in touch with us. Who knows, maybe you are the type of person who’d enjoy working with an adult human googling glitter pink converses for work and for fun!

Make sure to read Meta Title, Meta Description and Keywords in Shopify to improve your SEO even more.

Tip 1 : Create Descriptive Alt Tags

This is something good to know: generic doesn’t pay off when it comes to product descriptions. The devil is in the detail. You need to pay attention to the way you describe your products.

  • Say what the object in the picture is
  • What size is it?
  • What colour is in each specific product shot?
  • What materials are used?
  • What brand is it?
  • Is it a limited edition? Say it!

Here is an example: Open Apple Mac Book Pro Model XYZ 

Macbook Air

Tip 2 : The Optimal Alt text format

Your Alt text should contain 10 to 12 words maximum. We recommend including your brand name if it’s relevant, at the end. 

How Search Engines See Your Site Images With Alt Tags

They're subtly different: alt attributes are used as an alternative to the image, title attributes are used to supplement the image. We mostly use alt text for image ranking, but should pick up the title too, it there's something useful there. -JohnMu

As compelling as your site images may be to your visitors, search engines are not impressed. Here’s why: images aren’t easy to understand for most bots right now. Search engines have to be told what each image means. Then, they have to figure out how it fits in the context of the page. That’s why Alt texts are so important for SEO. Alt tags are stand-ins for your product, but also ranking signals for Google.