Why You Need Strong Alt Text for Real Estate Listing Photos

Published by
Nico Lassaux
March 10, 2023
Why You Need Strong Alt Text for Real Estate Listing Photos

In today's world, where most businesses have shifted their focus towards online channels, having a strong online presence is vital. The real estate industry is no exception to this trend, and having a website with well-crafted search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to capturing more potential customers. Alt text provides an additional layer of optimization that can be used to ensure your listings are seen by the right people. Let's explore what alt text is and how it can benefit your real estate business.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text, aka alternative text, is a description associated with an image on a website. It provides additional detail about the image that might not be apparent when looking at it without context. For example, if you have an image of your real estate office, you could add alt text describing where it’s located or what services you provide there. Alt text should be descriptive but succinct—best practice is to keep it under 125 characters in length.

Alt button on a keyboard

How Can Alt Text Help Your Real Estate Listings?

Alt text offers several advantages for real estate websites. It’s important for SEO purposes because it makes your listings easier to find through search engine queries. Because search engines can’t “read” images like humans can, having descriptive alt text helps them understand the content of the page better—which in turn helps boost rankings and visibility.

Adding alt text to images also helps make them more accessible for people with visual impairments who use screen readers to access web content. By providing a detailed description of each image, people who cannot see the image directly can still understand what it represents. Improving the accessibility of your website is not only a good way to improve the user experience, but it is also becoming increasingly important for legal compliance.

Using alt text gives you another chance to add keywords related to your listing into the mix too – which again helps boost visibility and rankings in search engines. Using relevant keywords in your alt text can help your images show up in relevant searches and attract more targeted traffic to your website.

Exterior of a home with aluminum roof, cedar siding and a balcony

Why Real Estate Agents Should Optimize Alt Text for Their Listing Photos

During the past decade, lead generation efforts in real estate have shifted their focus towards online channels. Large property portals have built marketing teams to advertise and position their brands and drive traffic to their online sites. As a result, SEO has become a battlefield. With most properties being featured on dozens of similar websites, it is becoming harder and harder to improve search rankings and make your website stand out.

There are still some SEO areas whose full potential remains untapped though, and one of them is image alt-tags. Real estate websites have thousands and thousands of images. Alt text tends to be empty in most cases. This makes sense because when real estate agents upload listings on a site, only a fraction of them provide captions for every image. This leaves the website or portal with thousands of images with no textual context. As a result, most listing portals and websites leave image alt tags blank or create simple automations to populate them with the property’s address or ID, which provides very little to no value for people with disabilities or SEO.

Benefits of Strong Alt Text for Real Estate Listing Photos

There are several benefits to providing strong alt text description in real estate listing photos. The team at HelloData.ai has studied real estate SEO extensively, and we put together the following list:

  1. Improve Image SEO – The most straightforward and simple reason to optimize every property photo’s alt-text is to improve the Google ranking of your images. When Google’s crawlers scan your site, they don’t “understand” your photos based on what they look like – they rely on things like the image’s alt-tag, title tag, and image file name. So when you are not using an alt-tag, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to provide Google more context about your images. Particularly in real estate, there are literally hundreds of websites displaying identical properties with the same exact property photos. Very few of them have strong alt image tags, so including them in your images is a good way to differentiate your listings from the competition.
  2. Improve Accessibility for Visually Impaired Users – Another important reason to use alt text for real estate listing photos is to make your website more accessible for users with visual impairments. Screen readers are used by people who are visually impaired to access web content. These screen readers cannot interpret images on their own, but they can read the alt text associated with the images. By providing detailed alt text, you can help these users understand the content of the images and navigate your website more effectively.
  3. Enhance User Experience – Providing detailed alt text for your images is not just a good practice for users with visual impairments though – it also helps improve the overall user experience for all visitors to your website. When images are well-described, users are more likely to engage with them and stay on your website longer, which can ultimately lead to increased conversions and business growth.
  4. Increase Clicks – By using relevant keywords in your alt tags, you can capture more organic traffic from people searching related terms on Google Images or other search engines, thus increasing clicks and visits to your website or listing pages as well as boosting conversions down the line.
  5. Accurately Represent Images – Having strong alt tags ensures that search engines accurately represent images associated with specific queries so that users don't end up getting irrelevant results when they're looking for something specific related to real estate listings online. This helps ensure that prospective buyers land on exactly what they're looking for quickly and efficiently without having to sift through irrelevant results first, resulting in better customer satisfaction over time as well as improved brand loyalty from customers who know they'll always find exactly what they're looking for when searching through your listings online.

How to Write Effective Alt Text for Real Estate Images

Now that we've covered the benefits of alt text for real estate listing photos, let's dive into how to write effective alt text that will help boost your SEO and improve accessibility for users. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be Descriptive – The primary goal of alt text is to provide a description of the image that is both informative and concise. Be sure to include relevant details such as property features, location, and anything else that may be important for potential buyers. Avoid generic descriptions and instead use specific, descriptive language.
  2. Keep it Short – Alt text should be no more than 125 characters in length. This is not only to ensure that it is concise, but also to ensure that it is fully visible on all devices, including mobile devices.
  3. Avoid Intro Text – Avoid starting with "Image of" or "Picture of" as it is unnecessary and can be frustrating for those using screen readers. Instead, provide context by explaining the type of image, such as a floor plan, exterior shot, or interior design.
  4. Don’t Repeat Yourself – If an image includes text, transcribe it as part of your description. However, avoid repeating yourself if the text is already included elsewhere on the page. Alt text is not needed for images that would repeat information already on the page, such as adjacent captions or page headings.
  5. Use Relevant Keywords – Alt text provides another opportunity to include relevant keywords related to your real estate listing. Be sure to include keywords that are relevant to the property and its location, but avoid keyword stuffing or overusing keywords.
  6. Exclude Decorative Images – Things like brand graphics or page dividers don’t require alt text as they do not have contextual significance. Ideally, these images should be included in the code rather than uploaded as images, but if they are necessary, it is fine to skip alt text as screen readers will simply skip over them.
  7. Be Accurate – Alt text should accurately describe the content of the image. Avoid misleading descriptions or exaggerations that do not accurately reflect the image.
  8. Be Consistent – Be sure to use consistent alt text formatting throughout your website to ensure that your listings are easily searchable and accessible.

Strong alt text for real estate listing photos is essential for improving your website's SEO and accessibility for your users. By providing detailed descriptions of your images, you can help search engines understand the content of your website better, increase visibility and rankings, and ultimately attract more potential customers.

Just remember to keep your alt text descriptive, concise, and consistent, and don't forget to include relevant keywords. With these tips in mind, you can effectively leverage alt text to boost your real estate business's online presence and attract more prospects.

The Easy Way: HelloData.ai Can Automatically Generate the Alt Text for Your Listing Photos

The data science team at HelloData.ai has built algorithms to extract quality, amenities, views, and even locational attributes using only an address and listing photos. We can automatically detect room quality and amenities, and return optimized alt-text for your listing pictures.

Property managers, investors, brokers and appraisers all use HelloData to analyze multifamily comps, optimize rents, and increase deal flow.

Nico Lassaux

Data Scientist Nicolas Lassaux, with expertise in real estate analytics, was pivotal at Enodo and Walker & Dunlop. Co-founder of Hello Data, he's elevating real estate decisions through innovative data use. Passionate about running, cycling, and music.

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