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How to Build a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy (w/ Example)



How to Build a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy (w/ Example)

Strategies involving full-funnel marketing and omnichannel marketing can be confusing. Many articles on the topic discuss complex KPIs and goal tracking. This guide keeps it simple.

Rather than giving you unnecessary details, this article aims to teach you how to build a simple and effective full-funnel marketing strategy so you can target potential buyers at all stages of your customer journey. 

I’ll also give you real-world examples to help you understand and follow along.

What is full-funnel marketing?

Full-funnel marketing means creating specialized content for each part of the marketing funnel: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

Content for each part of the funnel has a different goal and a different audience, as shown in the graphic below: 

The marketing funnel that's made up of three parts

Let’s break these down further, with examples:

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

Top-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at customers who may not even be aware of your brand/product or a problem you can help them fix. 

The largest audience usually falls under TOFU because people in this stage don’t have specialized knowledge like those farther down the funnel—which is why it’s also the biggest part of the funnel.

For example, we wrote a guide to answer the question, “What is SEO?” 

Someone searching for that question on Google probably doesn’t know what it is or that Ahrefs even exists—let alone understand why our software is important. This is TOFU content.

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

Middle-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at people who know they have a problem but don’t yet know what the solution is. The funnel is beginning to get smaller at this stage.

Our guide to keyword research is a good example of MOFU marketing. 

Someone searching “keyword research” probably understands basic SEO but may or may not be aware that Ahrefs exists to help them with it. They are closer to becoming a customer than someone searching for beginner information but may not be ready to pull the trigger yet.

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Bottom-of-the-funnel marketing is aimed at people who know what their problem is and are considering your products or services to solve it. This is typically the smallest, most targeted portion of the funnel.

A great example of BOFU content is our comparison of Ahrefs vs. SEMrush.

Someone searching “ahrefs vs semrush” is likely ready to buy but isn’t sure which product to go with. Our comparison page helps guide them to making the final purchase decision.

There’s also full-funnel content…

It’s possible to take someone through the entire funnel in a single piece of content. 

For example, our “What Is SEO?” guide takes someone from not knowing what SEO is, to understanding why it can solve their problem, to knowing how Ahrefs can help. 

Be on the lookout for opportunities like this so you can maximize sales with less effort.

Why is full-funnel marketing important?

It’s important to create content or media for all stages of the funnel. If you don’t, you will miss out on a lot of potential customers.

Most companies focus solely on BOFU marketing, which will usually have the highest conversion rates. However, it is also typically the most expensive and competitive stage of the funnel. 

Including TOFU and MOFU marketing efforts broadens your pool of potential customers and plants seeds for future growth.

In fact, a Nielsen meta-analysis of CPG campaigns found that full-funnel marketing strategies receive up to 45% higher ROI and 7% increases in offline sales compared to single-funnel campaigns.

How to create a full-funnel marketing strategy that converts

You can create an effective full-funnel marketing strategy in five steps:

  1. Mapping your customer’s journey
  2. Choosing your marketing channel
  3. Setting your KPIs
  4. Creating content
  5. Tracking performance and tweaking based on data

Step 1. Map your customer’s journey

Before anything, you should spend some time understanding how your customers go from no awareness of your brand to making a purchase—i.e., the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey is broken down into three stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Here’s an example buyer’s journey for a new Ahrefs customer: 

Potential buyer's journey of Billy Blogger

Our customer may begin by looking for ways to get more traffic—without any knowledge of SEO or Ahrefs. From there, he may decide to pursue SEO, realize he needs tools, and begin researching what is available. Finally, he may decide to purchase an Ahrefs subscription.

To uncover a customer’s journey applicable to your business, put yourself in the customers’ shoes. 

Who are your customers? What problems do they have that you can solve? How do they find the solution to these problems? How can you create content to be a part of this journey?

Of course, everyone’s journey is different and all you can really do here is try to understand how potential customers are likely to make decisions, then use content/media to guide them.

Step 2. Choose your marketing channel

Trying to create a full-funnel marketing strategy for multiple channels at the same time is a surefire way to kill your plan before it even gets going.

Instead, it’s better to choose one channel at first and develop, execute, and track its performance until you create a system that works—then move on to another.

You can choose from any of the social media platforms, paid advertising, and many other marketing channels. However, at Ahrefs, we focus on organic search by performing SEO.

SEO is great for full-funnel marketing because you can target keywords across the funnel, rank them in Google search, and get consistent traffic month after month.

For example, our piece on how to get more website traffic (TOFU content) gets an estimated 1K–2K monthly search visits, according to Ahrefs:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on how to get more website traffic

Our list of free SEO tools (MOFU content) gets an estimated 36K visits:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on free SEO tools

And even our Ahrefs vs. SEMrush vs. Moz comparison (BOFU content) gets an estimated 1.2K visits:

Organic traffic for Ahrefs' article on comparisons between Ahrefs and its competitors

It’s also possible that by creating content for every stage of the funnel, you can actually receive compounding results because Google’s search algorithm cares about topical authority. In other words, if you cover all the topics targeting keywords across the whole funnel—not just the BOFU keywords—your overall rankings may improve.

Hopefully, it’s clear to see why we focus so much on this channel.

If SEO sounds right for your business, check out our complete SEO content strategy guide.

Step 3. Choose your KPIs

This is where other guides may get complicated. But don’t worry, I’ll keep it super simple.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that you can track to keep tabs on how well (or poorly) your marketing is performing so you can adapt your strategy accordingly. 

KPIs could be anything: website traffic, goal conversions and attributions, time on page, bounce rate, etc.

But I recommend you start with a single KPI: traffic.

Traffic to your content is one of the easiest and strongest indicators of how well your marketing efforts are performing. Typically, more traffic = more sales.

Now, you don’t just want traffic for traffic’s sake. But if you’re targeting the right keywords and creating content around your marketing funnel, traffic to those pages is a good indicator that your efforts are working. 

What qualifies as success here varies depending on your niche. Some niches are low-volume and hyper-competitive, while others have a lot of high-volume keywords. The important thing is seeing your traffic numbers increase over time. 

You can track traffic using Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you’re using GA4, head to Engagement > Overview and scroll down to see your views.

Google Analytics 4 engagement overview chart

Another solid KPI that goes hand in hand with traffic—if you’re using SEO as a strategy—is keyword rankings. The higher you rank for a given keyword, the more traffic you’ll get.

Personally, I check Ahrefs at least once a week to see how my websites are performing. I’ve been in business for over 10 years, and the overall website traffic and keyword rankings are still my main KPIs (alongside overall profits) to determine whether my efforts are working or not.

I’ll talk about my tracking process in step #5. For now, it’s time to roll our sleeves up.

Step 4. Create content

Now that you have your strategy in place and know what your KPIs are, it’s time to begin creating your content. 

What kind of content you create depends on your niche and marketing channel. I can’t possibly cover them all in this article. So instead, I’ll assume you’re going with my advice on using SEO as your main traffic channel.

The first step in creating a full-funnel SEO strategy for your website is keyword research

This is the process of uncovering what keywords your potential customers are searching for on Google at each stage of the funnel. The simplest way to do this is by plugging a seed keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and filtering the results to fit your needs. 

For example, in the awareness/TOFU stage of Billy Blogger’s buyer journey, I would start with a seed keyword like “website traffic” and look at the keyword ideas. 

Keyword ideas for "website traffic," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Right away, I see two potential articles from these ideas:

  • How to check your website’s traffic
  • How to drive traffic to your website

I can then repeat this with different seed keywords for each funnel stage to get more ideas. 

For the MOFU stage, I can search “seo” as the seed keyword. This gives me keywords like “what is seo,” “how to do seo,” “seo best practices,” and more.

For the BOFU stage, I can enter broad keywords that are specific to my product, such as “ahrefs,” “best seo tool,” etc.

For more keyword research tactics, check out these other guides and tools:

After you finish your keyword research, you can prioritize which keywords to create content for first based on a combination of search volume, keyword difficulty, and proximity to the bottom of the funnel. I like to create my BOFU content first, then MOFU, then TOFU—simply because content closer to the bottom usually converts better.

Once you have your target keywords in mind, it’s time to create search-optimized content. There’s a lot to learn here, but I’ll break it down into five basic steps (you can read the linked articles for a more in-depth look):

  1. Determine the search intent of the keyword you wish to rank for
  2. Create a content outline if writing a blog post or landing page
  3. Follow my SEO writing tips while writing the content
  4. Publish the content and perform some basic on-page SEO
  5. Learn link building to help your website and articles gain authority

That’s all there is to it. There are more nuances to SEO, of course, but the basics are simple: Create high-quality content that matches the search intent of your target keyword, then build internal and external links to that content to prove its trustworthiness.

Step 5. Track performance and make tweaks

Once you’ve published some articles and started promoting them, you need to track those KPIs over time to see how well they’re performing.

Again, Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you track your traffic. But if you also want to track keyword rankings like I mentioned, you can do so with Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker.

Simply plug in your website and the keywords you want to track, and you’ll be shown a dashboard with your current rankings and which pages are ranking for which keywords.

Ahrefs' Rank Tracker report

This is a great way to see how well your pages are performing for your chosen keywords, but I also like to look at my websites in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer by diving into the Organic keywords and Top pages reports. 

The Organic keywords report will show you all the keywords you’re ranking for, as well as give you the option to compare current rankings to previous rankings. 

Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

If you notice you’re losing rankings over time, that’s a sign you may need to refresh your content to keep it relevant and keep your funnel working.

The Top pages report, on the other hand, will show you which pages are your top performers in terms of traffic and number of ranking keywords. This is great to see which parts of the funnel are performing the best, allowing you to create more of what’s working.

For example, our blog post on affiliate marketing is our top-performing article on the entire site:

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This tells us it’s probably a good idea to create more content around affiliate marketing which, for us, is a MOFU topic. We’ve published dozens of articles about affiliate marketing since learning how well this one is performing, and they’re now bringing in thousands of new visitors every month.

Lastly, the Top pages report is the perfect way to decide which pages to invest in conversion optimization to improve the number of leads and sales you’re getting from your highest-traffic pages.

Final thoughts

Full-funnel marketing, when done right, can maximize your sales and minimize your costs. And luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

In short: Try to understand your customers, create content for each step in their buyer’s journey, then track how that content is performing and tweak your strategy based on the data.

Questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.

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Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links




Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links

Google’s John Mueller responded to a thread in Reddit about finding and fixing inbound broken links, offering a nuanced insight that some broken links are worth finding and fixing and others are not.

Reddit Question About Inbound Broken Links

Someone asked on Reddit if there’s a way to find broken links for free.

This is the question:

“Is it possible to locate broken links in a similar manner to identifying expired domain names?”

The person asking the question clarified if this was a question about an inbound broken link from an external site.

John Mueller Explains How To Find 404 Errors To Fix

John Mueller responded:

“If you want to see which links to your website are broken & “relevant”, you can look at the analytics of your 404 page and check the referrers there, filtering out your domain.

This brings up those which actually get traffic, which is probably a good proxy.

If you have access to your server logs, you could get it in a bit more detail + see which ones search engine bots crawl.

It’s a bit of technical work, but no external tools needed, and likely a better estimation of what’s useful to fix/redirect.”

In his response, John Mueller answers the question on how to find 404 responses caused by broken inbound links and identify what’s “useful to fix” or to “redirect.”

Mueller Advises On When Not To “Fix” 404 Pages

John Mueller next offered advice on when it doesn’t make sense to not fix a 404 page.

Mueller explained:

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Some 404s Should Be Fixed And Some Don’t Need Fixing

John Mueller said that there are situations where a 404 error generated from an inbound link is easy to fix and suggested ways to find those errors and fix them.

Mueller also said that there are some cases where it’s basically a waste of time.

What wasn’t mentioned was what the difference was between the two and this may have caused some confusion.

Inbound Broken Links To Existing Webpages

There are times when another sites links into your site but uses the wrong URL. Traffic from the broken link on the outside site will generate a 404 response code on your site.

These kinds of links are easy to find and useful to fix.

There are other situations when an outside site will link to the correct webpage but the webpage URL changed and the 301 redirect is missing.

Those kinds of inbound broken links are also easy to find and useful to fix. If in doubt, read our guide on when to redirect URLs.

In both of those cases the inbound broken links to the existing webpages will generate a 404 response and this will show up in server logs, Google Search Console and in plugins like the Redirection WordPress plugin.

If the site is on WordPress and it’s using the Redirection plugin, identifying the problem is easy because the Redirection plugin offers a report of all 404 responses with all the necessary information for diagnosing and fixing the problem.

In the case where the Redirection plugin isn’t used one can also hand code an .htaccess rule for handling the redirect.

Lastly, one can contact the other website that’s generating the broken link and ask them to fix it. There’s always a small chance that the other site might decide to remove the link altogether. So it might be easier and faster to just fix it on your side.

Whichever approach is taken to fix the external inbound broken link, finding and fixing these issues is relatively simple.

Inbound Broken Links To Removed Pages

There are other situations where an old webpage was removed for a legitimate reason, like an event passed or a service is no longer offered.

In that case it makes sense to just show a 404 response code because that’s one of the reasons why a 404 response should be shown. It’s not a bad thing to show a 404 response.

Some people might want to get some value from the inbound link and create a new webpage to stand in for the missing page.

But that might not be useful because the link is for something that is irrelevant and of no use because the reason for the page no longer exists.

Even if you create a new reason, it’s possible that some of that link equity might flow to the page but it’s useless because the topic of that inbound link is totally irrelevant to anyting but the expired reason.

Redirecting the missing page to the home page is a strategy that some people use to benefit from the link to a page that no longer exists. But Google treats those links as Soft 404s, which then passes no benefit.

These are the cases that John Mueller was probably referring to when he said:

“…you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Mueller is right, there are some pages that should be gone and totally removed from a website and the proper server response for those pages should be a 404 error response.

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Site Quality Is Simpler Than People Think




Site Quality Is Simpler Than People Think

Google’s John Mueller, Martin Splitt and Gary Illyes discussed site quality in a recent podcast, explaining the different ways of thinking about site quality and at one point saying it’s not rocket science. The discussion suggests that site quality could be simpler than most people know.

Site Quality Is Not Rocket Science

The first point they touched on is to recommend reading site quality documentation, insisting that site quality is not especially difficult to understand.

Gary Illyes said:

“So I would go to a search engine’s documentation.

Most of them have some documentation about how they function and just try to figure out where your content might be failing or where your page might be failing because honestly, okay, this is patronizing, but it’s not rocket science.”

No Tools For Site Quality – What To Do?

Gary acknowledged that there’s no tool for diagnosing site quality, not in the same way there are tools for objectively detecting technical issues.

The traffic metrics that show a downward movement don’t explain why, they just show that something changed.

Gary Illyes:

“I found the up-down metric completely useless because you still have to figure out what’s wrong with it or why people didn’t like it.

And then you’re like, “This is a perfectly good page. I wrote it, I know that it’s perfect.”

And then people, or I don’t know, like 99.7% of people are downvoting it. And you’re like, ‘Why?’”

Martin Splitt

“And I think that’s another thing.

How do I spot, I wrote the page, so clearly it is perfect and helpful and useful and amazing, but then people disagree, as you say.

How do you think about that? What do you do then?

How can I make my content more helpful, better, more useful? I don’t know.

…There’s all these tools that I can just look at and I see that something’s good or something’s bad.

But for quality, how do I go about that?”

Gary Illyes

“What if quality is actually simpler than at least most people think?

…What if it’s about writing the thing that will help people achieve whatever they need to achieve when they come to the page? And that’s it.”

Martin Splitt asked if Gary was talking about reviewing the page from the perspective of the user.

Illyes answered:

“No, we are reframing.”

Reframing generally means to think about the problem differently.

Gary’s example is to reframe the problem as whether the page delivers what it says it’s going to deliver (like helping users achieve X,Y,Z).

Something I see a lot with content is that the topic being targeted (for example, queries about how to catch a trout) isn’t matched by the content (which might actually be about tools for catching trout) which is not what the site visitor wants to achieve.

Quality In Terms Of Adding Value

There are different kinds of things that relate to site and page quality and in the next part of the podcast John Mueller and Gary Illyes discuss the issue about adding something of value.

Adding something of value came up in the context of where the SERPs offer good answers from websites that people not only enjoy but they expect to see those sites as answers for those queries.

You can tell when users expect specific sites for individual search queries when Google Suggests shows the brand name and the keyword.

That’s a clue that probably a lot of people are turning keywords into branded searches, which signals to Google what people want to see.

So, the problem of quality in those situations isn’t about being relevant for a query with the perfect answer.

For these situations, like for competitive queries, it’s not enough to be relevant or have the perfect answer.

John Mueller explains:

“The one thing I sometimes run into when talking with people is that they’ll be like, “Well, I feel I need to make this page.”

And I made this page for users in air quotes…

But then when I look at the search results, it’s like 9,000 other people also made this page.

It’s like, is this really adding value to the Internet?

And that’s sometimes kind of a weird discussion to have.

It’s like, ‘Well, it’s a good page, but who needs it?’

There are so many other versions of this page already, and people are happy with those.”

This is the type of situation where competitive analysis to “reverse engineer” the SERPs  works against the SEO.

It’s stale because using what’s in the SERPs as a template for what to do rank is feeding Google what it already has.

It’s like, as an example, let’s represent the site ranked in Google with a baseline of the number zero.

Let’s imagine everything in the SERPs has a baseline of zero. Less than zero is poor quality. Higher than zero is higher quality.

Zero is not better than zero, it’s just zero.

The SEOs who think they’re reverse engineering Google by copying entities, copying topics, they’re really just achieving an imperfect score of zero.

So, according to Mueller, Google responds with, “it’s a good page, but who needs it?”

What Google is looking for in this situation is not the baseline of what’s already in the SERPs, zero.

According to Mueller, they’re looking for something that’s not the same as the baseline.

So in my analogy, Google is looking for something above the baseline of what is already in the SERPs, a number greater than zero, which is a one.

You can’t add value by feeding Google back what’s already there. And you can’t add value by doing the same thing ten times bigger. It’s still the same thing.

Breaking Into The SERPs By The Side Door

Gary Illyes next discusses a way to break into a tough SERP, saying the way to do it is indirectly.

This is an old strategy but a good one that still works today.

So, rather than bringing a knife to a gunfight, Gary Illyes suggests choosing more realistic battles to compete in.

Gary continued the conversation about competing in tough SERPs.

He said:

“…this also is kind of related to the age-old topic that if you are a new site, then how can you break into your niche?

I think on today’s Internet, like back when I was doing ‘SEO’, it was already hard.

For certain topics or niches, it was absolutely a nightmare, like ….mesothelioma….

That was just impossible to break into. Legal topics, it was impossible to break into.

And I think by now, we have so much content on the Internet that there’s a very large number of topics where it is like 15 years ago or 20 years ago, that mesothelioma topic, where it was impossible to break into.

…I remember Matt Cutts, former head of Web Spam, …he was doing these videos.

And in one of the videos, he said try to offer something unique or your own perspective to the thing that you are writing about.

Then the number of perspective or available perspectives, free perspectives, is probably already gone.

But if you find a niche where people are not talking too much about, then suddenly, it’s much easier to break into.

So basically, this is me saying that you can break into most niches if you know what you are doing and if you are actually trying to help people.”

What Illyes is suggesting as a direction is to “know what you are doing and if you are actually trying to help people.

That’s one of my secrets to staying one step ahead in SEO.

For example, before the reviews update, before Google added Experience to E-A-T, I was telling clients privately to do that for their review pages and I told them to keep it a secret, because I knew I had it dialed in.

I’m not psychic, I was just looking at what Google wants to rank and I figured it out several years before the reviews update that you need to have original photos, you need to have hands-on experience with the reviewed product, etc.

Gary’s right when he advises to look at the problem from the perspective of “trying to help people.”

He next followed up with this idea about choosing which battles to fight.

He said:

“…and I think the other big motivator is, as always, money. People are trying to break into niches that make the most money. I mean, duh, I would do the same thing probably.

But if you write about these topics that most people don’t write about, let’s say just three people wrote about it on the Internet, then maybe you can capture some traffic.

And then if you have many of those, then maybe you can even outdo those high-traffic niches.”

Barriers To Entry

What Gary is talking about is how to get around the barrier to entry, which are the established sites. His suggestion is to stay away from offering what everyone else is offering (which is a quality thing).

Creating content that the bigger sites can’t or don’t know to create is an approach I’ve used with a new site.

Weaknesses can be things that the big site does poorly, like their inability to resonate with a younger or older audience and so on.

Those are examples of offering something different that makes the site stand out from a quality perspective.

Gary is talking about picking the battles that can be won, planting a flag, then moving on to the next hill.

That’s a far better strategies than walking up toe to toe with the bigger opponent.

Analyzing For Quality Issues

It’s a lot easier to analyze a site for technical issues than it is for quality issues.

But a few of the takeaways are:

  • Be aware that the people closest to the content are not always the best judges of content is quality.
  • Read Google’s search documentation (for on-page factors, content, and quality guidelines).
  • Content quality is simpler than it seems. Just think about knowing the topic well and being helpful to people.
  • Being original is about looking at the SERPs for things that you can do differently, not about copying what the competitors are doing.

In my experience, it’s super important to keep an open mind, to not get locked into one way of thinking, especially when it comes to site quality. This will help one keep from getting locked into a point of view that can keep one from seeing the true cause of ranking issues.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Stone36

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Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?




Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

Alt text is used to help computers read images.

But can alt tags affect your organic search rankings?

Read on to learn whether there is any connection between alt text and improved rankings in Google Image Search results.

The Claim: Alt Text Is A Ranking Factor

What is alt text?

Alt text is an HTML image attribute. It allows you to create an alternative text version of your image if it cannot load or has an accessibility issue.

Because of its importance to Google Image Search, it is considered a ranking factor.

[Ranking Factors 2023] Download the free ebook + cheat sheet 

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: The Evidence

Google emphasizes how alt text plays a vital role in getting your images recognized by Google Image Search.

You will find a page on image best practices in Google Search Central’s Advanced SEO documentation. In a section called “about alt text,” Google discusses the use of alt text.

“Google uses alt text along with computer vision algorithms and the contents of the page to understand the subject matter of the image. Also, alt text in images is useful as anchor text if you decide to use an image as a link.”

While the company doesn’t specify that alt text will improve your rankings, it warns website owners that improper use can harm your website.

“When writing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page.

Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (also known as keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”

It also offers the following examples of good and bad alt text usage.

Screenshot from Google Search Central, August 2023Google Search Central best practice for images

Google Sites Help documentation indicates that images may come with pre-populated alt text, including keywords for which you may not want to optimize.

“Some images automatically include alt text, so it’s a good idea to check that the alt text is what you want.”

For example, when I download stock photos, a text description of the image is embedded in the file.

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Screenshot by author, August 2023Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

When uploaded to a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, the text descriptions may need to be moved to the alt text field or modified to remove unnecessary keywords.

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Screenshot from WordPress, August 2023Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

In Google Search Central’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide,” it offers the following advice about alt tags when using images as links:

“…if you’re using an image as a link, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. However, we don’t recommend using too many images for links in your site’s navigation when text links could serve the same purpose.”

In 2020, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, answered a question about the alt text of a quote image during a Google Webmaster Office Hours. In the answer, he talked about how Google uses it:

“For Search, what happens with the alt attribute is we use that to better understand the images themselves, in particular, for Image Search. So if you didn’t care about Image Search, then from a Search point of view, you don’t really need to worry about alt text.

But if you do want these images to be shown in Image Search, which sometimes it makes sense to show fancy quotes in Image Search as well, then using the alt attribute is a good way to tell us this is on that image and we’ll get extra information from around your page with regard to how we can rank that landing page.”

Moz mentions ranking factors about alt text. Instead of saying that the alt text itself is a ranking factor, Moz advises:

“…alt text offers you another opportunity to include your target keyword. With on-page keyword usage still pulling weight as a search engine ranking factor, it’s in your best interest to create alt text that both describes the image and, if possible, includes a keyword or keyword phrase you’re targeting.”

In 2021, during a Twitter discussion about ALT text having a benefit on SEO, Google Developer Martin Splitt said:

“Yep, alt text is important for SEO too!”

Later in 2021, Mueller noted that alt text is not magic during a conversation about optimization for indexing purposes.

“My understanding was that alt attributes are required for HTML5 validation, so if you can’t use them with your platform, that sounds like a bug. That said, alt text isn’t a magic SEO bullet.”

[Recommended Read] → Ranking Factors: Systems, Signals, and Page Experience

Alt Text As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?Is Alt Text A Ranking Factor For Google Image Search?

Alt text is a confirmed ranking factor for image search only. You should craft descriptive, non-spammy alt text to help your images appear in Google Image Search results.

Alt text is definitely not a ranking factor in Google Search. Google has clarified that alt text acts like normal page text in overall search. So it’s not useless, but it’s not a separately considered ranking factor in your page content.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore alt text. It’s a helpful accessibility tool for screen readers. When you’re writing alt text, ask yourself what you want someone who can’t see the image to understand about it.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal

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