Seo arrow Text usage and images

text icon displayed

"Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the ALT attribute to include a few words of descriptive text."

- from the Google webmaster guidelines 1


Text is better than images for SEO, pagespeed, mobile, your webserver and accessibility.

Common mistakes made

This guideline exists because so many people are using text in images. You may be too, consider these examples...

Text links are better understood than image links

Text is well understood by search engines, images are not. If you use images for important links on your page, they might not be understood or recognized as well as text is. One example is if your website menu has an image that displays the word "cars" instead of text that says "cars". In that case you would need to make sure that the image has an ALT tag that says "cars".

Example of not following this guideline

Website example showing two images and no text

Imagine if a website about animals had a home page that only had two pictures on it for navigation. One picture of an elephant and one picture of a giraffe, linking to a page about each animal.

This might seem like a clever and pleasant way to choose which animal you want to read about, but it would not be following this guideline.

Example of following this guideline

webpage showing two images and text links below

To correct that you could have a text link under each picture that said "elephant" and "giraffe".

One important reason for having text links in addition to images is so that your webpage is accessible to those who are blind and are unable to see image links.

Another important reason is that Googlebot cannot "see" what a picture is. Look over your website and make sure that if you are using images as links, that they also have a text link as described above.

Tip: check pages for image links using the Google guideline tool

Example of truly understanding this guideline

Website example showing two images, text links and text description

This example has the text links and also has added a text description under each link. A small paragraph or even just a sentence of text can really help your users and search engines understand what you site is about.

Use images

This guideline does not suggest images should not be used, it suggests that text be used to convey important names, content, and links. Notice I have used images on this page, yet this page is following the guideline. I have added accurate and descriptive alt text to my images, and I have in general written this page thinking...

Could this page be understood even if none of the images were visible?

Alt text

Alt text is how you add text to describe an image in an accessible way that search engines and screen readers for blind users understand.

Alt text looks like this (from one of my images above).

<img src="images/text-link-no.png" alt="webpage showing two images and no text" />

Alt text is very important to your website, and can affect your ranking.

Often for design reasons your website or menu has images in it. Even though it has a word on it it is still an image.

Any text contained in such images is unreadable to those who are blind and search engine crawlers. If search engine crawlers can not read it, search engines will not know that it is there.

The more accessible your website is to the sight impaired, the more accessible your site is to search engine crawlers.

If your business street address is displayed in an image, you should definitely also have it in text as well. Your address is a very important factor for users and search engines. Your physical location is very important.

If the name of your business is in an image conveying your logo then it is possible that you aren't even telling search engines the name of your business. Check your pages and make sure that the name of your business appears in text in addition to your logo.

Key Concepts

How to determine if your website is following this guideline

Patrick Sexton

by Patrick Sexton