Crawl Alt Text

Analysing the Alt text of images to avoid Search Engine penalties.

Alt Text

Alt text (alternative text) is used within the HTML of a website to describe an image textually.

This tag is critical for web accessibility (for the blind and visually impaired) and for serving alternative text to the image if by chance the image cannot be loaded.

It is widely used by Search Engines to understand image content although its function has faded given Google’s autonomous interpretation through artificial intelligence.

Let’s see together what the main steps are to find images that lack this attribute.

  • 1. After crawling a subdomain, simply click on the “Images” tab in which all URLs related to images, their respective size (Size) and number of source IMG links will be present.
  • 2. By clicking on the “Images Details” tab, in the bottom window of the SEO Spider, you will see all the information about the source pages that reference the image (From – the URL ‘from’) and the alt text of each discovered image element including the preview by scrolling to the right side of the screen.

In the example above, you can see how four pages on the Screaming Frog website (listed in the ‘From’ column) feature the same image (https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/rand.jpg).

The inconsistency detected is that only one of these four html pages has an alt text (in the image ‘rand’), the others are blank, i.e., lacking alt text.

Images can have many different URLs referencing them, and thus, many different alt texts that can be optimized. Although the image is present on multiple pages, it is plausible to think that the Search Intent of the pages is different, and therefore I recommend that when optimizing, you provide different versions of Alt Text to better contextualize the content.

  • 3. Use the “Missing Alt Text” or “Missing Alt Attribute” filters.

The ‘Missing Alt Text’ filter includes all images that have an alt attribute, but it shows up empty or includes only whitespace.

The ‘Missing Alt Attribute’ filter includes images that do not have an alt attribute.

Screaming Frog provides these two separate filters for decorative images, which as a best practice should provide for empty alt text, rather than no text at all so as not to cause problems for screen readers. A good rule might be to provide the decorative images as CSS background images.

Insight: Alt Tag Images – W3C.

  • 4. Having collected the data you are able to export it by individual filter directly from the Tab or in bulk with the “Bulk Export” function

Bulk Export > Images > Images Alt Attribute & Text Inlinks

Through these documents you can also view the data of the “source” reference pages, the path of the images, and the alt text for a more accurate view of any critical issues.

When optimizing images, it could be very useful to export all resources (including those that are missing Alt Texts) in one solution.

Bulk Export >Images> All Images

It may happen that some images are not discovered by the Seo Spider. In most cases the reason is related to the robots.txt file blocking them or they are loaded using JavaScript or CSS (such as CSS ‘background-image’).

In the first case you can customize the robots file (config>>robots file>>custom), in the second you just need to enable the “JavaScript rendering” option and restart the crawl.

Alt Text Tutorial

Seo Audit Images

Seo Spider Tab