During the submitted Question and Answers segment of a hangout, John Mueller was asked about alt text for decorative images.
The SEO pro asked John: would you use alt text for images that use only decoration within longer text?
How would Google treat these mostly stock images?
John answered that it’s totally up to you. However, he cannot speak for the accessibility perspective. This is the one angle that is there.
But, from an SEO perspective, the alt text really does help Google to understand the image better for image search. And if you don’t care about this image for image search, then that’s fine.
You can do whatever you want with it.
And that’s something for decorative images. Sometimes you just don’t care for things like stock photos, where you know that the same image is on lots of other sites – you don’t care about image search, for example, then you can do whatever you want to do there.
And John explained that he would focus more on the accessibility aspect there rather than the pure SEO aspect.
It’s not the case that Google would say that a textual web page has more value, because it has images. It’s really just – “Well, we see the alternative text, and we apply that text to the image. If someone searches for that image, then Google can use that to better understand the image.
It’s not that the web page in text web search would rank better just because it has an image.
This happens at approximately the 40:05 mark in the video.