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A Complete Guide To B2B Multitouch Attribution Models

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A Complete Guide To B2B Multitouch Attribution Models

Executives have always desired a “single source of truth” to measure marketing effectiveness and avoid wasted ad spending.

John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

While today’s data-driven marketers have untold access to data and metrics, the question is still as valid today as it was in John’s day

Which marketing activities contribute to the bottom line – and which ones do not?

Each online platform – be it Instagram, Facebook ads, Google Ads, LinkedIn, or YouTube – wants you to spend more money with it.

But it is not always possible to gain the full picture of accurate marketing performance.

Thankfully for us marketers, multi-touch (or multi-funnel) attribution may be the solution.

A multi-touch attribution model (MTA) enables you to understand each touchpoint’s role in creating a new customer.

This shows you what to leverage to boost performance and hit growth targets.

That’s why it is so important to gain a complete picture since every touchpoint a customer has with your brand can influence their decision to convert.

Once you understand which touchpoints result in conversions, you can better allocate your budgets to similar touchpoints in the future and reduce funds from less effective ones.

First, How Does Multi-Touch Attribution Work?

Multi funnel attribution – also known as multi-touch attribution – is a way to measure conversions.

It considers every touchpoint in the customer marketing journey and gives tribute to each channel to show the value of each touchpoint.

The challenge most marketers face is which channel or touchpoint to credit and how much to credit each touchpoint for the conversion.

In the graph showing a customer journey above, should the Facebook ad (first touchpoint) get all the credit, the Google paid-search ad (last), or all of them?

We’ll take you through all the attribution models to better understand how you could shape your measurements.

What Is Multi-touch Attribution?

Multi-touch attribution models refer to those that evaluate and weigh the impact of several touchpoints, not all attribution models.

As a result, they only consider the first or last touchpoint encountered before a conversion rather than every touchpoint encountered throughout the sales cycle.

What Multi Funnel Attribution Is Not

An easy way to understand multi-touch attribution is to compare it with other attribution models.

It Is Not First-Touch Attribution

Under the first-touch attribution model, the initial marketing touchpoint of a campaign before a closed sale is given full credit for the sale. This is where awareness marketing campaigns get credit for triggering a sale at the top of the funnel.

This may be useful for niche situations, but it gives no attention to the middle or bottom of the funnel activities.

However, this can be useful as companies prepare themselves for when there are no 3rd party cookies in the future, and other metrics – such as the first point of contact – need to be tracked.

It Is Not Last-Touch Attribution

In this model, the final touchpoint that has been interacted with before a closed lead is given full sales credit.

Last-touch attribution seems to be used more frequently than first-touch.

This attribution method is primarily concerned with the end stage of the customer journey and doesn’t focus on top or mid-funnel activities.

Why Adopt A Multi-touch Attribution Approach For B2B Marketing

Since you sell to companies, not individuals, you need more of an account-based attribution model rather than focused purely on the individual.

While some B2B transactions are conducted as B2C transactions, most B2B attributions need you to consider the many stakeholders in your buying journey to the account level.

These stakeholders are responsible for determining whether the company will buy from you.

Companies, Not Individuals

It is easy to lose sight that B2B means that you sell products or services to companies, not individuals.

The buying process includes users, decision-makers, stakeholders, and other advisers, but ultimately a company has to decide whether to pay another company for its solutions.

However, account-level or not, their journey will mirror the consumer’s.

Your brand and product are still going to be researched and engaged across all your different channels, including:

  • Website.
  • Live chat.
  • Email.
  • Phone calls.
  • Review sites.
  • Your product’s free trial.
  • Social media.

Organized Data, Better Strategies

All of this data is difficult to organize, understand, and build a useful attribution model without structured thinking.

That is why a multi-touch attribution model, which provides a more granular, human-centric view of a campaign than traditional methods such as media mix modeling, is becoming more important for marketers.

In addition to providing visibility into the success of touchpoints across the customer journey, multi-touch attribution offers many other benefits.

It is crucial to utilize data-driven marketing to use the right channel to meet consumers at the right time, as consumers are becoming increasingly adept at avoiding marketing messages.

Multi-touch attribution makes this possible, which provides marketers with granular data to identify audiences across channels and determine their specific marketing goals.

Return On Investment

Multi-touch attribution models can help marketers improve the consumer experience and help them increase the return on their marketing expenditures by revealing where their money is being spent most and least effectively.

This supports a shorter, more effective sales cycle by presenting consumers with more impactful marketing messages.

Quick Overview Of The Types Of Multi-Touch Attribution Models

In multi-touch attribution, each touchpoint engages with the customer before conversion – the difference is the amount of credit attributed to each touchpoint. These models can either be adopted as is or modified to create custom models.

Linear Multi-touch Attribution Model

When you use a linear attribution model, each touchpoint in the buyer’s journey receives the same amount of credit for driving the sale. While this type of attribution considers all touchpoints in the buyer journey, it weighs each equally.

Although linear attribution improves first or last touch attribution, it still leaves a lot to be desired as all touchpoints don’t equally impact consumers.

U-shaped Multi-Touch Attribution Model

Based on the U-shaped multi-touch attribution strategy, 40% of value is attributed to the initial and last contact, and 20% goes to the subsequent touchpoints.

It provides your team with a clear picture of where the customer’s journey has begun, and where the journey ends.

Because this attribution model considers that not all touchpoints are equal, it is more reflective of how marketers value touchpoints intrinsically.

This is because it gives gravitas to the starting and ending campaigns.

Even so, it doesn’t meet all of the customer’s journey requirements due to its simplistic viewpoint.

Time Decay Multi-touch Attribution

This model gives a larger share of credit to customer touchpoints closer to conversion.

Although it gives some credit to touchpoints in the top and middle of the funnel, this article focuses primarily on touchpoints at the end of the marketing funnel.

The time decay model emphasizes touchpoints that directly lead to conversions and ignores awareness-based touchpoints.

While conversions are critical to ensuring your business is profitable, downplaying the first touchpoint is not perfect for all marketing teams.

The W-Shaped Multi-Touch Attribution Model

The W-shaped model is responsible for assigning credit of 30% at the first touch, mid-way (lead creation), and final (conversion) touchpoints.

The remaining 10% is equally split between additional engagements.

This model is ideal when there is a clearly defined “opportunity creation” stage in the journey.

And, while this is a massive improvement on the “one or none” approach, it is not always the best model for marketing teams to accurately attribute conversions.

Full Path Multi-Touch Attribution Model

This model – commonly used in B2B spaces – is quite detailed and complex.

Similar to the W-shaped multi-touch attribution, it has the addition of the lead creation touchpoint.

This notes the moment that a marketing lead becomes a qualified lead.

Here, 22.5% of the credit is attributed to the first touchpoint and lead generation, opportunity creation, and sale touchpoint, with the remaining 10% spread among the leftover touchpoints.

It is useful because it gives a granular view of the customer’s journey from start to finish.

So granular, in fact, that it may not be the best choice for B2C companies or those with low-involvement purchases.

Tailored Multi-Touch Attribution Model

The company itself designs this model.

It allows marketers to base value per touchpoint against their own parameters.

This is ideal for those who want to get the most from multiple models.

It can be difficult to put all the benefits of bespoke attribution together.

You may need to invest in software and attribution modeling experts to tailor your attribution strategy properly.

How To Deploy Multi-funnel Attribution For B2B

This can be a daunting task, but here are the steps we use to roll out a multi-touch attribution model.

Identify The Models And KPIs

Choose the attribution models that suit your organization best. Consider the length of the sales cycle, the types of campaigns, and the level of detail required. Then, identify the key metrics to measure success or failure.

Bring The Team Onboard

Your in-house team may need to bring on some external marketing analysts and strategists to get this job done. Internal finance and creative teams will also need to understand how data will drive campaigns going forward.

Setup Tracking

Start here:

  • Collect the data. Who is visiting your site, how did they get there, and did they convert?
  • JavaScript, where you add code to your website’s pages to understand who is interacting with your site and how. This includes call tracking such as page views, user activity, user identity, and traffic source.
  • UTMs are custom URLs that allow you to track campaign-specific clicks and actions. UTMs can be integrated with the JavaScript calls to get a clearer, more accurate image of your user. In addition to maximizing insights, it enables B2B performance marketers to optimize spending, campaigns, and ROAS by stamping UTM attributes at the account level for website visitors. When used in conjunction with account-based retargeting ads, this has the potential to leverage massive growth.
  • APIs can be integrated with your CRM system, external advertising vendors, and third-party software that have unique ways of identifying your users.
  • Combine the data. To turn this raw data into useful insights, you need a place to store it, such as a central, secure data warehouse.
  • Visualize the data. It is important to transform this data into graphs and charts that non-analytic stakeholders will find easier to understand. There are many vendors available who can do this for you.
  • Invest in analytics software. If your attribution models are complex, it is best to implement analytics software that is advanced enough to work with your models. This will standardize and correlate the spans of raw data into reports that offer insights. Ideally, it will highlight consumer motivation, such as strong brand equity, compelling campaign creatives, etc.
  • Apply insights and remodeling. Once you have collected and cleaned the data, use it to try and predict what might come based on past observations. Those insights can be translated into campaign improvements right away.
  • Optimize and test. Tracking and testing are never done. Embrace a culture of continually evaluating your MTA data and testing campaigns to improve results.
  • A/B testing: Tools like Google Optimize, Optimizely, or your strategic marketing partner make it easy to change campaigns to see what audiences prefer.
  • Server-side testing: Growing in popularity for channels like SEO if other methods aren’t working.
  • Geo experiments: For channels that cannot be A/B tested (such as TV), splitting campaigns by geographical region is useful to see the impact of the marketing on sales.
  • Deprivation testing: Quite simply, switching the ad off and then on again to see its impact on sales and conversions.

Is MTA The Same As Multi-Channel Attribution?

Quite simply – no. Multi-channel attribution allocates credit according to channel (social advertising, paid search, organic SEO, etc.). It does not take into account specific touchpoints, messaging, or sequences.

While multi-touch attribution does factor in the channel, it is more granular in that it zooms in on each of the ads, their creatives, messaging, sequencing of interaction, and so on.

How Do We Know If We Need Multi-Touch Attribution?

It is best to apply MTA to campaigns that pivot on digital spending and that need to link an individual to a specific marketing event.

This could be email or online paid advertising that spans multiple channels and devices.

If your campaigns require this level of insight, then MTA is a good fit for you.

Conclusion

Multi-touch attribution allows B2B marketers to respond more rapidly to changes in their target audience and greater market.

The granular understanding they are given at an account level of which elements of their campaigns are working – and those that are not –  means they can be flexible, agile, and competitive.

They have clarity into every touchpoint on the B2B customer journey, empowering marketing teams to make better data-backed decisions going forward.

Remember, B2B marketing attribution isn’t so much about budget as what marketing teams are doing.

Finding the right attribution model is imperative to success.

If yours is not supplementing your strategy with useful data, it will negatively impact your performance.

Every dot of data, every graph, and report should give you more insights into your ideal customer and their typical behavior.

As modern B2B marketers, we must have multiple weapons in our digital arsenal.

This will bring clarity to data chaos and give the organization an edge that will help them forge ahead with confidence.

More resources: 


Featured Image: MaximP/Shutterstock

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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

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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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