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Image ALT Text vs Title Text: What’s the Difference In SEO

This search engine optimization (SEO) guide covers image ALT text vs title text.

As you’ll discover below, title text and image ALT text have separate purposes for search engines and website users. And knowing the difference between image ALT text and title text for SEO will help you understand how to use each element correctly to grow your rankings, and traffic.

There’s also a section with additional digital marketing resources that explain more about the fundamentals of image ALT text and title text to help you create the most effective search engine optimization strategy.

Image ALT Text vs Title Text

What Is the Difference Between Image ALT Text and Title Text?

The main difference between image ALT text and title text is that image ALT text is used to specify information about images for screen readers and search engines while title text is displayed as visible text when a user hovers over an HTML element.

Image ALT Text vs Title Text Comparison

The comparison table below shows the key differences between image ALT text and title text in an easy-to-understand format. After the table, I’ll explain each factor individually.

ParameterImage ALT TextTitle Text
DefinitionDescribes the content of an image on a web pageSpecifies information about an HTML element
Primary PurposeTo accurately describe an image for screen readersTo give extra information about an element to improve the user experience
Secondary PurposeTo inform search engine crawlers about the content of an image for indexingNone
Character LimitNone; but 150 or less is recommendedNone; but 140 or less is recommended
SEO Ranking FactorYesYes

What Is Image ALT Text?

Image ALT text is alternative text for images that describes the content of the image as it relates to the web page or document. Image ALT text attributes are used by screen reader software and crawled by search engine spiders to index images in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

ALT Text Details for SEO

Purpose

The primary purpose of ALT text attributes is to provide descriptive information for images to make websites more accessible to users with visual impairments. It also improves the user experience by displaying text in place of photos or graphics that fail to load on the page.

However, for the purpose of SEO, ALT text is analyzed by search engine crawlers to properly index and rank images in the SERPs for relevant queries. As a secondary benefit, ALT attributes also improve on-page search engine optimization by giving Google’s ranking algorithm extra SEO data it can use to verify the main keyword topics for the page.

Character Limit

There’s no maximum character limit for ALT text tags; however, the best SEO practice for ALT attributes is to use 150 characters or fewer. Both screen readers and search engine crawlers stop reading the content of image ALT tags between 125-150 characters, so it’s best to keep your ALT text as short as possible for SEO purposes.

Can It Be Optimized?

Image ALT text attributes can be optimized for search engines and users by including keywords in the description field. However, you should avoid keyword-stuffing because it can cause a Google ranking penalty.

Download the SEO Keyword Research CheatsheetDownload the SEO Keyword Research Cheatsheet

Image ALT text should accurately describe the image while also containing just one of your SEO keywords for the page. Optimizing for more than one keyword or optimizing multiple ALT tags for the same keyword will not provide any additional SEO benefits.

Is It a Ranking Factor?

Image ALT text is a ranking factor for SEO. Google’s search engine as well as Bing and other platforms use the contextual information inside ALT tags to index and rank pictures and graphics in the SERPs.

Search engines also use the text data understanding the topics for the page the image resides on. Therefore, it’s important to properly optimize the image ALT text element for both image rankings and on-page SEO.

What Is Title Text?

Title text is an attribute that specifies extra information about an HTML element. Title text attributes are used to improve the user experience by showing helpful details as a tooltip text when the mouse hovers over the element.

Title Text Details for SEO

Purpose

The purpose of title text is to provide specific information about an element on the page during mouse over events. Title text attributes are also useful for giving users extra information about where a clickable link will take them that is cannot be included in the anchor text.

Many users appreciate the convenience of title text because it helps them understand how certain HTML element work on the web page and what will happen when they interactive with them.

Character Limit

There’s no maximum character limit for title text attributes; however, the best practice for SEO and user experienc is 140 characters or fewer. Excessively long tooltips are difficult to read and can distract readers by covering up other information on the page.

Can It Be Optimized?

Title text attributes can be optimized for search engines and users by including target keywords in this field. Properly optimized title text should provide additional information about links, buttons, and graphical user interface (GUI) elements without duplicating the anchor text or other information that’s already visible on the page.

Is It a Ranking Factor?

Title text is a ranking factor for SEO. Search engines like Google will crawl the content inside the title text attribute to help understand the context of the web page. However, the effect HTML title text has for on-page optimization is relatively small; meaning it typically won’t make or break the rankings for a web page in the SERPs.

Also, search engine algorithms are tuned to detect keyword stuffing in title attributes because this HTML element has been used heavily in the past to try and manipulate search engine rankings with on-site SEO. Therefore, you should never keyword stuff the title text; nor use the same exact match keyword in multiple title attributes on the page. Otherwise, your site may receive a ranking penalty.

Should Image ALT Text and Title Text Be the Same?

Image ALT text and title text should not be the same because these two elements have differernt purposes. Image ALT text describes the context of an image for screen readers while the title text provides extra information in the form of a tooltip to enhance the user experience.

As for SEO, making the image ALT text and title text the same is not advised because it’s redundant information. There’s no advantage to copying the image ALT text to the title text attribute for SEO, and in if this practice is done repeatedly on the page, it may be flagged as keywords stuffing which is a negative ranking signal.

Learn More About Image ALT Text

The links below explain more about image ALT text and how to use it correctly for better search engine optimization. Use these resources to expand your knowledge on the subject.

Summary for Image ALT Text vs Title Text In SEO

I hope you enjoyed this guide on image ALT text vs title text in SEO.

As you learned, the main difference between title text and image ALT text is that title text attributes are displayed as visible text when a user hovers over an HTML element while image ALT text is used to specify information about images for screen readers and search engines.

However, both elements can be beneficial for your website when used together with their intended purposes in mind. Instead of just choosing image ALT text or title text for SEO, try to implement both tactics to help improve the user experience and on-page search engine optimization signals for higher rankings in the SERPs.