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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

Do you have a local small to medium-sized business (SMB)?

If so, you know just how difficult it is to get found and stand out in increasingly competitive search results.

Local SEO strategies must adapt to new features and algorithm updates by the top search engines that affect local search results.

Most local SEO tactics fall into the following three categories.

  • Optimizing local listings and citations.
  • Optimizing your website and its content.
  • Optimizing and working on incoming links.

In this column, you’ll find over 50 specific things you can do right now to help improve your visibility in local search results, divided into those categories above.

Optimizing Local Listings & Citations

Let’s start with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) data.

In order to get listed and ranked in Google Maps, you need to be a legitimate business, and in some areas, you’ll need a business license (depending on the type of business you’re in).

That NAP needs to be consistent and listed the same everywhere or you’ll have problems later on.

Before you get started with local listings and citations, you’ll also need the following:

  • NAP of the business.
  • Website URL (list of internal location pages if more than one location).
  • A short description (up to 50 characters) that should include your main city name and type of business.
  • A longer description (up to 250 characters) that describes who you are and what you do. Include the city name and areas served if applicable.
  • Recent photos of your business.
  • Category of your business.
  • Keywords (that you’d like to rank for). These are typical “city name keyword” type keywords.

The main strategy for local listings and local citations is to get as many as feasible in the right category, with consistent information such as your NAP data.

Screenshot by author, March 2022

Local citations are mentions of a local business, which includes NAP data. Local citations may or may not include a link to your website. There are generally two strategies for getting local citations:

  • Get the local listings yourself.
  • Hire someone else to get them for you.

Taking the time to get local citations yourself can be a really big project, especially if you’re in a competitive industry in your area.

Competitors could have up to hundreds of thousands of local citations, which is nearly impossible to do manually.

If you’re a local business (SMB) in a fairly non-competitive market, then getting a handful of local citations manually is a good strategy. If that’s the case, a non-competitive local SEO strategy for local citations is to get these listings:

  • Google Business Profile.
  • Facebook.
  • Yahoo! Local (currently requires a payment to Yext).
  • Apple Maps.
  • Bing Places for Business.
  • MapQuest.
  • Yelp.
  • BBB.org.
  • FourSquare.
  • TripAdvisor.
  • Angie’s List.
  • TrustRatings.
  • YellowPages.
  • Home Advisor.
  • Thumbtack.

The last two on the list are specific to certain industries, and you’ll want to search certain directories that are specific to your local business’ industry.

Typically, these are easy to find — they’ll rank in the top 10 search results (on the first page).

BrightLocal has a list of top local citations for the U.S. that they maintain.

Submitting to directories (and getting listed) will allow your local business to take advantage of what’s often referred to as “barnacle SEO.”

Your business gets listed on pages on other websites that rank well for a certain keyword you’re targeting.

So for [Dallas carpenters], Google lists sites like Yelp.com, homeadvisor.com, thumbtack.com, houzz.com, and angi.com.

Getting listed on those sites will bring the business leads, as they’re ranking well in Google.

Once you have secured (and verified) those local listings, the next local SEO strategy is to get listed with the main data aggregators. There are three:

  • Data Axle (formerly InfoGroup) – Submit your business here.
  • Acxiom  – Register then submit your business here.
  • Localeze – Register then submit your business here.

The data aggregators will take the information of the local business and aggregate it (make it available for literally thousands of websites to use).

Be sure you’re using the correct NAP data and website URLs, as once the data aggregators get hold of your data, it’s tough to get it corrected and updated and can take quite some time.

Using A Third Party For Local Citations & Listings

Another local SEO strategy is to outsource local citations and listings.

Several third-party businesses allow you to submit your local business listing to them (the NAP data, short and long descriptions, URLs, etc.), and they will then use their connections to get that data on other websites.

Many have agreements with certain data providers, and can efficiently get hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of local citations.

These third-party services include:

  • BrightLocal.
  • MozLocal.
  • Yext.
  • Advice Local.
  • SEMrush Listing Management Tool.
  • Whitespark.
  • Synup.

Some of these services are better than others, mainly because of the agreements they have with other websites and their technology.

Some submit to only 30 websites, and others like Advice Local will end up getting a local business thousands upon thousands of local citations, many of which include a link to the website.

Be wary of any third-party websites that set up a local listing on behalf of the local business but won’t give the local business the login and password for those listings.

Reviews Are Key

Getting reviews of your local business, especially on Google, is going to help rankings and it will encourage others to visit your business.

People do read reviews online, especially for service-type businesses (hotels, resorts, carpet cleaners, home inspectors, carpenters, and even car dealerships).

So, if your local business is a service-type business or another business where reviews are important, then creating a good strategy for dealing with reviews is key.

Local businesses need to request and encourage their customers to leave a review.

There are a lot of ways to encourage customers to leave a review.

Some businesses post a plaque at the business asking for reviews. Other SMBs encourage reviews by offering a “prize” each month to a random reviewer (one local business I frequent gives away an Apple iPad once a month to a random reviewer).

The local business should respond to reviews just as quickly as they are left, regardless if it’s a positive or negative review.

If it’s a positive review or comment, thank the customer for leaving a review.

If it’s negative, deal with it quickly and offer to take the issue offline to minimize any future problems and the negative review getting out of hand.

Even if you miss responding to a review, it’s perfectly okay to respond to reviews left several months in the past.

If the review shows up and can be seen easily, then I recommend responding to the review.

Too many local businesses will take the time to verify their local listings but won’t properly deal with reviews and respond to them in a timely manner.

Local businesses should take the time to develop a strategy for encouraging reviews, tell employees what that strategy is, and designate one or two people to respond to reviews.

Here are a few other ways to manage reviews:

  • Designate one or two employees to read reviews and handle review responses.
  • Encourage reviews by asking your customers when they check out or pay for services.
  • Send customers a letter or postcard in the mail, asking for a review after you provide services.
  • Outsource review monitoring and response. Typically, your social media or SEO company (or consultant) will help monitor and respond to reviews. If not, hire someone part-time to handle it for you.
  • Add a link on your website to a few other places where customers can leave a review. On the Google Maps listing, for example, Google provides a link to the listing that you can share.
  • Add a form on your website so they can anonymously leave a review (or leave their contact info if preferred). There are plugins available that will help you post those reviews on your website. This is especially helpful for businesses that sell products directly on their websites.
  • Create a comment box at your business, and provide a pen/pencil and forms. On the form, add a line for the customer’s email address. Ask them if you can post their review or testimonial online. Or, if you have their email address, email them and ask them to leave a review online.

Reviews sent directly to the business can be posted on the company’s website (with the permission of the customer). Reviews left on a third-party website (like on Google, Yelp, etc.) cannot be copied and posted on the company’s website.

Reviews on third-party websites have in fact been given extra weight lately by Google. So sites like these, where customers can leave reviews and feedback, could potentially help with local rankings on Google:

  • Yelp (yelp.com).
  • Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.com).
  • Yellowpages (yp.com).
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB.org).
  • Manta (manta.com).
  • Angie’s List (angieslist.com).
  • Foursquare (foursquare.com).
  • Facebook (facebook.com).

Another way to get more local reviews is to create a postcard or handout that’s given to customers.

Tell them you’d like their feedback, and use that feedback to make your business even better.

They can leave you a review on your website, or on any of these third-party websites (list the websites where you’d like them to leave a review).

Optimizing Your Local Website’s Content

Without going into too much detail about optimizing a local website, there are several on-site local SEO strategies that are important to consider:

  • Optimize for “Near Me” search queries.
  • Optimize for local.
  • Be a local content machine.
  • Buy a local website or blog.
Local Search on GoogleScreenshot by author, March 2022

Optimize For “Near Me” Search Queries

In the past, there have been more people using “near me” in the number of search queries, such as [restaurants near me] or [pharmacies near me].

Those two search queries assume the search engine knows where the searcher is located.

While “near me” isn’t necessarily gaining in popularity as it once was five years ago, it’s still used quite often.

I recommend doing your own keyword research and specifically looking to see if “near me” is used in search queries in your area.

If there’s a significant amount of searches, you may want to optimize at least one page on your website for “near me” related keywords.

Local Ranking Factors

Advice Local came out with their list of 2021 Local Ranking Factors, which is worth reviewing.

Specifically, they found that the local SEO experts that contributed to the list of ranking factors said that these are important:

A properly optimized GBP listing is the most important ranking “factor.”

So, it’s important to optimize your Google Business Profile listing.

Reviews are important, as well as responding to those reviews.

Then one of the “rising” important factors is the optimization of your website’s pages, which is the “On-Page” referred to above.

For example, make sure that your website has the proper Local Schema markup code, and the NAP data there matches the information in your GBP exactly, especially the name.

Work on getting more backlinks specifically to your individual location pages that include “city name + keyword” in the anchor text of the links.

Be A Local Content Machine

One interesting tactic or “local SEO strategy” I’ve seen lately that works well is becoming a local content machine.

Essentially, by adding a blog to your local business website and writing about local news and events, you’re producing content that others in the city will want to read and share, especially on social networks.

While you’re not necessarily writing about your local business, you’re branding the business locally. When someone wants or needs a company’s services, they’ll think of your business first since they’ve seen it so much online.

A local auto accident and personal injury attorney hired a writer to write articles every single day about accidents in their city.

While they weren’t targeting the actual victims they wrote about, the social media shares went up dramatically and the attorney got his name out there in front of people in the city.

Those social media shares did end up creating links to the website, which in turn helped local rankings.

Buy A Local Website Or Blog

If you’re looking to add a lot of content fairly quickly to your local business website, consider purchasing a local website that already has the content you need.

It could be a local hobby website with local news or articles, or it could be a local blog that has the content.

Perhaps the owner doesn’t have the heart to keep up with the content like they used to or they could just use the money.

Approach a local website or blog about buying their site and incorporating and moving their content over to your local business website.

Setting up redirects from the old domain name to your local business website will help pass any link equity and history over to your local business.

Optimizing And Working On Links

Links to your website have always been an important search engine ranking factor and will continue to be in the future.

Google’s algorithm has always favored links to a website.

But back in 2016, there was a stronger emphasis on links when Google released its Google Possum algorithm update.

Local links or links from other local businesses and organizations have been important for years, and are still a very important part of a local SEO strategy today.

Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at SearchLab.com, recommends that you can “find easy link opportunities by looking at the relationships you already have.”

Local sponsorships, local volunteer opportunities, and local offline groups can all lead to local links.

Need more ideas for local links? Use Majestic.com to analyze the link profiles of similar businesses in another city.

Another local SEO strategy for local links is to get links from competitors.

Use a web crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl their website and review all of your competitors’ outgoing links.

Then, see if there are any links you can get from websites your competitors are linking to.

Essentially, those competitors are passing link credit or PageRank to the other website that then passes it to your website.

Additional Local SEO Tips

Those are a few local SEO strategies that will help local search engine rankings.

But, if that wasn’t enough, here are a bunch more local SEO tips and pointers that you may not have thought of yet.

Local Listings

Undoubtedly, the number one local search ranking factor is the “proximity of the business to the point of search.”

How far is the business away from the person who is doing the search?

For example, Google knows where the searcher is (especially if they are using a mobile phone).

The closer the business is to the person doing the searching, the more likely that business will show up in the Google Maps and Google local listings in the search results.

Some businesses have been known to get a “virtual office” location (or multiple virtual office locations) just for this reason, especially if the customer never visits their location.

While this is a local SEO strategy I don’t endorse, it’s a local SEO strategy worth noting – as a company’s competitors might be doing it.

Keep your local online listings up to date.

If you know you have an update to your NAP data, make sure it gets changed online as soon as possible.

If you’re moving, start updating your local listings.

As soon as you know the new address, start updating local listings online.

It can take months for websites to update your listing, so the sooner you start, the better.

Just as you update your “snail mail” with the US Postal Service when you move to a new location, you’ll want to make sure your local listings are updated as well.

As previously mentioned, the address with the USPS should be the same exact address used in your local listings.

Search engines most likely have access to USPS data and inconsistencies can lead to local ranking problems.

Consistency is key when it comes to NAP data and your business’s ability to rank well locally.

Make sure your local listings are consistent and the same as it is on your website.

Audit your local citations.

Inconsistent NAP data across multiple websites is one of the issues I see a lot.

Auditing your local citations to make sure your NAP is consistent everywhere can really help local SEO.

You might have multiple phone numbers, different versions of your address, or even a different address on some websites that list your NAP data.

Removing duplicate listings and updating inconsistencies can make a huge difference.

Add updated photos on a regular basis to local profiles.

Get on a regular schedule of taking new photos of your location and your business. Add new photos on Google Business Profile, your Facebook page, and other sites that will accept photos such as Yelp.

Add a budget for local ads.

Use Google AdWords to target specific locations and target potential customers in your area. Google is now offering ads on Google Maps listings, so setting aside a budget for those ads will pay off.

Work on getting more reviews.

It’s always a constant battle to get more online reviews than your competitors – but it’s worth it in the long run.

Ask customers for reviews – in-store, at your location, and even via email if you have your customers’ email addresses.

Ask for a review on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor if you’re a hotel or resort.

Always respond in a timely manner to every review that’s left, whether it’s a positive or negative review.

On-Site Local SEO

Add marked-up schema.org code to your NAP on your website.

The name, address, and phone number on your site should be marked up with the proper code.

It won’t affect how it displays on your site, but the schema.org code will tell search engines just that – that it’s your name, address, and phone number.

You can also add the markup in JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) code, which can help Google know about your NAP.

Add the proper link to your telephone number.

Adding a “tel://” type of link to your phone number where it’s listed on your site will allow mobile visitors to click on the link and call you.

This can also help search engines display your phone number in the phone call extension area in mobile search results.

Speed up your website’s load time.

Optimizing your site for mobile devices can seriously (and quickly) help rankings.

I’ve seen Google send more traffic to a website just because the website loads faster than it did before. This might mean moving web hosts, redesigning the website, or using a CDN.

All photos of your business should be tagged with the appropriate location information and keywords.

Use an EXIF editor to add location information, keywords, and descriptions of each photo. Each image file can be updated with this information, which can include geotagged location information.

Multiple locations? Create a section on your website for each location.

Don’t create just one page for each location, add additional content if possible.

Each location will have its own unique personality with its location and employees. Why not consistently add content relevant to each location? Add a blog, and add photos to make it relevant.

Use the proper syntax and keywords in your URLs.

For each location, use a format like www.domain.com/location/. Link to each location in the main navigation on your website, but don’t link to sub-pages under each location.

Consolidate separate websites for each location to one main website.

If you’ve set up a separate domain name and website for each location, move those websites to your main site.

Redirect the domain names with 301 redirects and move the content to sub-sections on your main website.

Each location will feed off of the main website’s authority to become more powerful. Don’t forget to update your location’s local listings so they point to the new URL on the main website as well.

Some local search queries can trigger featured snippets.

Depending on your topic, you can increase your website traffic and visibility by showing up in “position zero” for some search queries.

Position zero is the “featured snippet” that Google shows above all of the other search engine listings.

Use SEMrush.com to analyze the keywords you’re currently ranking for, and see if any of them include a featured snippet.

Optimize the content to show up for the featured snippet. Other search queries may also trigger the knowledge graph, instant answer, local pack carousel, or images that you can optimize for.

Make sure you’re using HTTPS.

While you may not be taking credit cards or personal information on your website, moving your entire website to an SSL secure server will give you a leg up.

HTTPS is now a search engine ranking factor for Google, and many local businesses haven’t moved their websites to HTTPS yet.

So moving to HTTPS will put you ahead of your competition. It’s important to make sure that links that you’ve had for a while, such as local citations, point to the HTTPS version of your website.

Add a blog.

Write blog posts on a regular basis about local news, local issues, and local events. Post those on social media and link back to your blog post.

Photos are always liked by local residents, and quite often they’re shared.

Local SEO Audits

Perform an audit of your website.

There are several different types of audits available, including link audits, on-page audits, and local citation audits.

Local citation audits are good for identifying duplicate listings and inconsistent NAP data.

I’ve recently seen a rash of negative SEO being done in the local listings, with some businesses receiving listings being built “for them” with bad data, courtesy of competitors.

A local citation audit can identify a lot of these issues so you can deal with them properly.

Link audits are important, as local maps algorithms are increasingly relying on link data.

Having low-quality links and off-topic links pointing to your website can hurt rankings.

On-page audits are also important to identify areas for improvement on your website.

Fixing issues like formatting, metadata, heading, and even page load speed can improve rankings.

Off-Site Local SEO

Get your customers’ email addresses and use that data to target them on Facebook or for an email newsletter.

You can upload your customers’ email addresses and phone numbers to Facebook and target them with ads.

Then, create a lookalike campaign on Facebook to target even more people with the same demographics as your current customers.

Optimize for voice search.

More people are using voice search to find local businesses. They use voice search to help them find a business near them.

For example, they might ask, “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” Check out the Local SEO Guide study of “near me” local SEO ranking factors that I previously mentioned. It’s an interesting read.

Use the barnacle SEO strategy.

For your main keywords (the ones you want to rank for), take a look at who is currently ranking – and it may not be your own website.

If you can optimize your listing or show up well on another site that’s currently ranking for your keyword, then you’ll still see some traffic and get business.

If a Yelp, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, or BBB page is ranking, then make sure your local business is listed on those pages.

Participate and sponsor local events, organizations, and non-profits.

These will increase your local visibility and will quite often include a link back to your website, which ultimately helps your search engine rankings.

Final Thoughts

It takes a holistic approach to optimize your website for search. The combination of on-site optimizations and offsite listings and links will help boost your SMB’s visibility in local search results.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock




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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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SEO

Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


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