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9 SaaS Marketing Strategies for Sustainable Growth

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9 SaaS Marketing Strategies for Sustainable Growth

Sustainable growth for a SaaS company is about creating long-term value that is a) profitable and b) able to be maintained over time without compromising the brand’s reputation. In other words, by building growth, you’re building a foundation for more growth as you go.

We’ll talk about nine marketing strategies that are perfect for achieving and maintaining sustainable growth.

1. Build for product-market fit 

Product-market fit (PMF) is when a business has confirmed signals that its product can satisfy an existing demand in a market with high potential.

The usual sign of achieving PMF is when people are willing to buy the product (even if it’s not perfect yet), actively use it, and recommend it to others.

This is a sustainable strategy because it allows you to make sure you’re building something meaningful that will actually get paying users.

PMF automatically makes your messaging more effective. You’re promoting a product people want. And you already know who you’re talking to, so your marketing dollars are better spent. 

Conversely, if none of your marketing efforts seem to work, the problem may be the product and not how creative or well funded your campaigns are. 

You can find SaaS companies with product-market fit all around. These will be companies that still offer the same kind of products that made them profitable: Slack, Atlassian, Shopify, etc. 

How it works

The general idea is to ship a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and iterate on it based on real user input until you see that people actively use it and recommend it. 

There are five steps in the process: 

  1. Formulate the value hypothesis: Why is a customer likely to buy your product? 
  2. Specify the features of your MVP: The right quantity and quality of features needed to verify the value hypothesis. 
  3. Build your MVP: There are many ways to present your product to your audience; you don’t necessarily need to develop a fully functional product.
  4. Test the MVP with real users: In other words, get feedback. 
  5. Learn from your users and iterate: Some ideas will need more work, while some are probably destined to fail. Gather your data and make the decision. 

When you achieve PMF, it will be time to scale your company and marketing efforts. 

2. Offer free trials or free tools 

This strategy doesn’t need an introduction. We’ve all used product trials and free tools. That said, this strategy can be looked at from different angles. What’s important from a marketing perspective are these three benefits:

  1. Reduced friction – This means there are fewer objections to trying your product. 
  2. Time to experience the value of the product and get hooked – Reading about a product on a landing page is not the same as experiencing it. Your potential customers will likely expect the possibility to put their hands on the product before they buy. 
  3. Direct marketing channel – You can ask users to sign up for a newsletter or send them messages concerning the product. 

For instance, HubSpot carves out parts of the platform for free usage (e.g., CRM, CMS). It does this, as it explains, to increase the force of its marketing flywheel. Or in other words, to propel its entire business model. 

Article about why HubSpot offers free products

How it works

Start by weighing the pros and cons of free and freemium products. 

Pros Cons
Less friction with getting people to use your product. Harder to manage expectations. People may expect to get more things for free.
Bigger user base. More server load and possibly more queries to support.
Works well with growth loops (more on that later). Offering something for free may reduce its perceived value.
Direct marketing channel to signed-up users (content distribution and upselling).
More feedback.

Getting users in front of free products is only part of the job. The harder part is getting them to upgrade. 

First off, you need to set the right expectations—you won’t convert all of them. For the ones that are “convertible,” here are some tactics you can use:

  • Never stop improving customer satisfaction. What your product does and how it does it is absolutely fundamental.
  • Educate users about the product. Use blog posts, videos, or quick in-app tips. 
  • Offer limited access to all newly developed features. For instance, you can allow everyone to use each new feature for five days for free. 
  • Provide excellent customer service. 
  • Offer flexible payment options. 

When looking for ideas for free products that will generate traffic, try a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. You can:

  1. Enter features of your product.
  2. Go to the Matching terms report.
  3. Use the Include filter with keyword modifiers pointing to tools, for example: “tool, check, checker, finder, analyzer, builder, free.” Set to “Any word.”
Keyword research for free tool ideas

To illustrate, our free website traffic checker tool generates an estimated 33.4K organic visits each month from ranking for keywords like “website traffic checker” or even “website traffic.”

Organic traffic to a free tool
Organic keywords captured by a free tool

3. Leverage SEO in content marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers. 

If you add search engine optimization to the equation, you get a framework for creating content relevant to your business and the reader. You also get a built-in distribution engine that generates almost free traffic. 

SEO is one of the most sustainable marketing strategies because it generates passive traffic that accumulates over time and can generate traffic even years after. To put it differently, SEO results are continuous—and you don’t get that with all marketing strategies. 

SEO results are continuous, while PPC results can be turned on and off

Our blog is an example of such a strategy. It brings an estimated 628K organic visits each month, worth around $860K in ad money, through regular publishing of SEO content. 

Organic traffic to Ahrefs' blog

How it works

SEO is generally worth it if at least one of these is true:

  1. People are searching for what you sell or do.
  2. People are searching for solutions to problems your business helps to solve. 
  3. You can give a better solution than the conventional one people are searching for.

In any case, the core of this strategy is to find relevant keywords with traffic potential. The right keywords can connect you with your target audience and create an opportunity to pitch your product. And if you’re not ranking for these keywords, your competitors will. 

The process of finding the right keywords for your website is called keyword research. Here’s a quick rundown: 

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter industry-related seed keywords, e.g., “seo, digital marketing, keyword, backlink”
  3. See keyword ideas in the Matching terms report 
  4. Use the filters to refine results if needed (e.g., look only for low-competition keywords or keywords with a certain minimum traffic potential)
Keyword research, a quick rundown

Other elements of the SEO process are building a sound technical foundation, creating optimized content, and building links. You can learn how to start with the entire process in our beginner’s guide to SEO

4. Build a community around the product 

A user community can help your SaaS product in a number of ways:

  • It helps to make the product better through feedback. 
  • It helps to spread word of mouth about the product even if the community is exclusive. 
  • It offers added value to the user—they can learn from others in the community and network. 

Building a user community is a sustainable strategy because it leverages existing customers and can help facilitate long-term engagement with the product. 

A famous example of a community with a price tag on it is Behance, acquired by Adobe for $150M. It generates over 10M search visits each month and allows the parent company to bring the design community very close to its product. 

Organic traffic to behance.net
Adobe's branding on Behance is unmissable
Adobe’s branding on Behance is unmissable.

How it works 

In a nutshell: create a place where people can meet online, build a constant presence there, and animate the community (feature launches, discussions, polls, etc.).

For example, at Ahrefs, we offer access to our exclusive community, Ahrefs Insider, with every subscription. All we needed to start it was a regular community feature on Facebook. Now it gathers a total of 17K registered users. 

Ahrefs Insider pitch

5. Go after earned media 

Earned media is publicity gained organically from promotional efforts, like press coverage, social media mentions, and search engine rankings.

Earned media is a sustainable form of marketing for these reasons: 

  • It’s cheaper in the long run compared to advertising (sometimes even free). 
  • It’s long lasting.
  • It earns your brand awareness and credibility. 

Here’s an example that checks all three boxes. A while ago, we published a data study showing that 90.63% of content gets no traffic from Google. This article was mentioned by multiple reputable websites, including NY Times, Forbes, and main SEO blogs. All of that coverage gave us free brand exposure and backlinks. 

Ahrefs mentions in a Forbes article

How it works 

Earned traffic covers a wide range of marketing tactics, so there’s no silver bullet here. Besides SEO content, which we already touched on, the tactics that are repeatable and will probably have the most impact over time are:

When vetting which site to pitch your product, story, or quote to, you can use Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar. For instance, say you’re looking for websites that review SaaS products like yours. Just search for your competitors’ reviews in Google and look at the metrics to see which sites can send you stronger links and considerable traffic.

SEO metrics, via Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar
Sites with low DR are unlikely to boost your SEO. This site has 0 organic traffic, so you probably won’t be getting much referral traffic from it.

6. Use multi-channel marketing

Multi-channel marketing is basically about interacting with your audience using different marketing channels: social media, search, podcasts, email, etc.

Using multi-channel marketing will have the following advantages:

  • A broader reach.
  • Channels can work to support each other. For example, social media can help you to get links to websites and boost your SEO.
  • You create convenience for your audience to interact with the brand. 
  • There’s less risk, thanks to diversification. 

The idea behind this strategy is that your audience is likely scattered across various websites and social media platforms. So even if one marketing channel works exceptionally well, you probably shouldn’t drop all other channels. 

How it works

Here are some ideas on how to find the best marketing channels for your business: 

  • You can see where your competitors promote. 
  • Do keyword research to estimate organic traffic for relevant keywords (we discussed it in point #3).
  • Use audience research tools like SparkToro. Below, you can see a screenshot showing what kind of data about your audience the tool can provide.
Sample data from SparkToro

Furthermore, using multiple marketing channels allows you to distribute content more effectively. You can: 

  • Repurpose content into other formats and platforms.
  • Build an audience to distribute content directly (for example, grow your email list).
  • Promote the content via ads or sponsored newsletters.
  • Syndicate articles to other websites. 

Here’s an example. Our thoughts on using ChatGPT for SEO were used in a YouTube video, on our blog, and on social media. While there may be some overlap between these audiences, they are definitely not identical. So by using the multi-channel approach, we were able to get more eyes on our content. 

Article header from Ahrefs' blog

7. Develop a growth loop 

A growth loop is a system where new user input creates an output that drives product demand. 

To illustrate, here’s how Notion used a product feature to activate and retain users (courtesy of Foundation). 

Notion's growth loop

Growth loops are a stellar example of a sustainable marketing strategy because the whole model creates a loop. The more you grow, the more users you get, and so the more you grow. 

Furthermore, this strategy gives your marketing budget more “power” since each dollar invested in acquiring a user is also invested in the users generated via the loop. 

How it works

The simplest (but super effective) form of a growth loop is making your product outstanding. When your customers love the product and recommend it to others, you start growing on word of mouth—you acquire users you spent nothing to get. 

How word of mouth works
Example: A user subscribing to Ahrefs based on a recommendation from a friend.

In some types of products, it’s possible to go beyond word of mouth and create a typical growth loop. It all depends on your product and your creativity. Here are a couple of levers you can pull:

  • Make it easier for users to share their work publicly like Adobe with Behance 
  • Devise a referral program like Dropbox
  • Create a marketplace for apps like Atlassian or WordPress 
  • Release an API like OpenAI
  • Encourage user-generated content like G2 
  • Allow for free product usage after creating a free account like Figma or Loom 
  • Allow users to invite others to their workspaces like Slack or Miro 

8. Offer more to expand revenue

Revenue expansion is the additional revenue you get from your existing customers through upselling, cross-selling, and add-ons. 

It’s a strategy that has proven to work for decades in multiple industries. For instance, this is why when you order a regular pizza, you’re offered to get a bigger one, get a drink with it, or add some extra ingredients. 

And here’s an example from the SaaS world. When subscribing to HubSpot, you’re offered to upgrade by increasing the limit of contacts and also to purchase add-ons.

HubSpot offering upselling and add-ons

According to a correlation study published by ProfitWell, SaaS subscription-based companies should aim for 20% to 30% expansion revenue in their overall revenue in order to succeed. 

Expansion revenue study from ProfitWell

You’ve probably heard that it’s better to retain a customer than to get a new one. That old business adage still holds true. According to this 2016 survey, SaaS companies spend an average of $1.16 to earn $1 on new annual contract value but only $0.27 on upsells and $0.20 on plan expansions. 

How it works

If you offer additional value to your satisfied customers, there’s a good chance those customers will be happy to buy more from you. Here are some ideas for creating value for revenue expansion:

  • Offer premium features on higher plans
  • Offer a per-seat model to cater to both small and large companies
  • Add a custom/enterprise tier for the most demanding customers
  • Offer priority support

For example, when design tool UXPin developed a way to design with production-ready components, it decided to offer that as a premium version of the product with an almost 80% higher price tag than the UXPin Standard version. 

Achieving expansion revenue by offering a premium product

But how to know when and if your customers are willing to expand? Here are some signals: 

  • Customers often reach their usage limit. 
  • Customers express interest in additional features or higher tiers.
  • Your competitors offer a successful expansion system. 
  • You’ve got an awesome idea for a premium feature.

9. Do growth marketing (not growth hacking)

Growth marketing is the process of increasing a company’s revenue by applying an experiment-driven and integrated approach to all stages of attracting customers.

To understand this type of marketing better, let’s compare it to traditional marketing and growth hacking (the close variant I don’t recommend). 

A chart of the differences between traditional marketing, growth marketing, and growth hacking

While the obvious solution for more sales is getting more visitors, this is not always the best one. If the product lacks competitive features and if there are obstacles on the path to purchase, money spent on getting more people through the door will always lead to low conversion and high churn. This is where growth marketing comes in. 

A great example of growth-oriented thinking is LinkedIn’s Reconnect Flow. It’s a nickname for the early onboarding process where new users were asked questions about their personal experiences and offered connections to existing LinkedIn users based on that. This simple tactic engaged both new and old users. 

Another interesting growth tactic LinkedIn used in the early days was encouraging users to import their email contacts (not a common thing back then). It was enough for 7% of new users to import their contacts to increase the overall number of invitations to 30%.

How it works

The idea behind growth marketing is based on the scientific method: propose hypotheses and validate them through experimentation. In marketing, it’s known as the growth hacking cycle. 

A chart of the growth hacking cycle

The whole cycle starts by gathering data on the buyer’s journey. Next is generating ideas on how to improve and then testing those ideas (for example through A/B testing). 

It may seem like an obvious way to do marketing. But it’s not always that easy: Some tests may be hard to perform, and discipline is required. Also, it’s always faster (but not better) to go with your gut. 

An important part of the growth mindset is the ability to analytically break down big problems into smaller pieces. This approach allows for setting more achievable goals. 

For instance, a goal to increase sales is too vague because sales rely on many factors and not all of them are controllable. Instead, growth marketers may want to discover what “moves the needle.” Depending on the product, this may be encouraging the user to perform specific actions in the product or gearing pricing and communication toward a new audience. 

Final thoughts 

Sustainable growth doesn’t rely only on the strategies or tactics you choose. You need to give them time to work out the returns. You also need to experiment with them to see what works best for you. 

There’s a great talk by Rand Fishkin on the concept of the flywheel in marketing; how the first push is the hardest, but it builds momentum that makes things easier in the long run. Sustainable growth strategies are just like that. As you build more value into your product and your brand, you gain momentum that acts as a multiplier for every new thing you do. 

Got questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter or Mastodon.



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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

Featured Image: rafapress/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

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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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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Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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