Think of alt text as a way to make your image shine — it’s the text that’s associated with the image, used to convey visual information to those who can’t access it. It goes by many names — alternative text, alt tag, alt attribute, and alt description — but whatever you call it, you need to make sure you’re using it wisely. Not only will good use of alt text increase your SEO and help boost rankings, but it’s a crucial part of making sure your website is accessible to all users. So, if you’re looking to up your SEO game, improve your website’s accessibility, and put those amazing images you’ve been using to the best possible use, read on to learn all there is to know about alt text and how to use it.

Quick Definition

Alt text (alternative text) is a brief description of an image that can be used in HTML and XHTML documents. It is typically used to provide a textual alternative to non-textual elements on websites, such as images or formatting.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text, also known as alternative text or alt attribute, is a way of describing an image to search engine robots and other users who can’t view the visual content. This form of metadata provides search engines with information about the images on a page, meaning they can be indexed in image search results and drive traffic to their respective pages. Adequately using Alt text also allows visually impaired users to understand the meaning of images and graphics on a website, making websites more accessible and improve the reach to these users.

From an SEO perspective, Alt text is important for increasing the visibility of a website in both organic search results as well as image results. It gives search engines valuable clues about what an image depicts, allowing them to properly index it and offer it up as a result in relevant searches. When used correctly, it also improves click-through rates from organic search results because it gives users greater insight into what the image looks like before they even click on it. In short, investing in high-quality Alt text descriptions can do wonders for not just accessibility, but also for a website’s overall search engine visibility.

On the flip side, there are many drawbacks to having poorly written alt-text descriptions that may outweigh any potential benefits. If alt-text descriptions are too long or keyword stuffed, they could determine how Google perceives an entire page or site and damage its overall rankings. Additionally, if some imagery is described inaccurately via alt-text and results in poorer user experience such as enticing people to follow links based on false premises, this could lead to lower user engagement and even worse when users start leaving bad reviews or ratings.

So while there are many advantages to getting Alt text right – such as increased accessibility and better visibility – it’s important to consider the risks too before throwing all your eggs in one basket. With that said, we can now move onto exploring the full value of implementing optimal Alt text for SEO & accessibility purposes…

Most Important Summary Points

Alt text, or alternative text, is a way to provide search engines and other users with information about images on a page. It can improve click-through rates from organic search results and also make websites more accessible to visually impaired users. Alt text can be beneficial for SEO & accessibility purposes but it is important to consider the risks of getting it wrong such as keyword stuffing or providing inaccurate descriptions that lead to bad user experiences.

What is the Value of Alt Text?

Alt text, also known as alternative text or ‘alt attributes’ is an important part of web content creation when it comes to improving SEO and accessibility for users. As HTML properties, alt texts are added to images within the code using the ‘alt’ attribute, helping assistive technologies to describe images for those who cannot see them. The function of alt texts is to provide alternative text descriptions for visual content on websites, like photos and illustrations.

There is much debate around the value of having alternative text descriptions of online images from both SEO and accessibility perspectives. On one hand, search engines cannot read a photo – only its accompanying description. If a website has no alternative text associated with an image they can’t get any benefit from it when it comes to their visibility in search results. By adding specific keyword phrases in the alt tag of images that are then picked up by search engine crawlers it can impact a website’s SEO ranking positively.

From an accessibility perspective having alt tags serves as a way for people using screen readers or other assistive technology to understand what an image represents – making sites easier to use and navigate for people with disabilities. The added descriptive element ensures the user experience can be enjoyed seamlessly by all.

In conclusion, although there may be differing opinions on the value of alt texts, they certainly have tangible advantages when it comes to websites being more findable through search results, as well as potentially unlocking more accessible experiences for users with disabilities. These combined factors make including alternative descriptions to any visual elements an incredibly important part of web content production. Now let’s discuss how we add these crucial elements: How Do You Add Alt Text To An Image?

How Do You Add Alt Text to an Image?

Adding Alt Text to an image is a straightforward process that requires little effort, yet pays off exponentially in terms of accessibility and SEO optimization. Generally speaking, the alt text should consist of a succinct description of the image which accurately conveys its meaning or content. It should not be longer than 125 characters and generally no more than a few words, depending on the complexity of the image.

When adding alt text, you have the choice between two approaches: using generic descriptions or using descriptive words. The former approach tends to be used more often since it’s simpler and quicker to implement, while the latter provides more detailed information regarding the images content. Both options depend entirely on the context of the image and situation, so it’s important to find a balance between getting as much information across as possible without detracting from other elements on the page.

Using generic descriptions can be effective when there are several images on a page, but it is important to note that they won’t help your SEO efforts since they lack any keywords related to what is being conveyed by the image. Descriptive words provide much more detail, but if there are too many of them on one page then search engine bots may not be able to discern one from another and thus limit their impact on SEO optimization.

Ultimately, finding an effective balance between generic descriptions and descriptive words for adding alt text will depend heavily on each particular website or situation. With some careful thought and consideration into how clients interact with your website or how search engine robots interpret your content, you can create optimized alt texts that will improve both user experience and SEO rankings.

Having discussed how to add alt text to an image, we now turn our attention to optimizing images with alt text as part of a well-rounded SEO strategy.

Optimizing Images with Alt Text

When it comes to the optimization of images for SEO, adding alt text to an image is highly recommended. Alt text assigns a visual description of your website’s images and gives search engine crawlers context which helps improve the visibility of your content. This can have a positive impact on your page ranking in SERPs. Semantically, it helps to describe what the image is about, so it helps to further enhance information about the page’s content as well as its associated keywords.

However, there is some debate as to whether alt tags are necessary when using web images. On one side of the argument, alt tags are useful because they help with overall search engine optimization by making sure that images are related to the content of the page. Additionally, they provide an alternate text-based description of the images in case they fail to load properly or if they are seen by people with disabilities who rely on alternative methods such as screen readers.

On the other side of the argument, some believe that alt attributes do not actually increase SEO rankings since most search engines are now able to recognize image content without alt attributes being present. That said, it is important for businesses striving for good SEO practices to implement alt attributes where possible in order to ensure greater success across all platforms and devices. Moreover, according to Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool there may be a slight advantage to having a strong alt tag associated with each image as this can still slightly help boost rankings in certain instances.

Alt text does more than just optimize images for SEO purposes; it also helps people with disabilities better comprehend a website’s visuals when used along with other techniques such as outlining link destinations within page titles and descriptions and providing transcripts for videos or audio recordings. Therefore, regardless of whether you decide to include alt tags or not, this type of descriptive text should always be employed when optimizing images for accessibility’s sake.

In conclusion, optimizing images with alt text has some advantages when it comes to improving SEO performance but there is still some debate over its effectiveness when it comes to increasing rankings exclusively. Although this point remains up for discussion, there is no doubt that implementing alt text has tremendous benefits when used as part of an overall strategy when striving for improved accessiblity and usability between visitors and pages on your site. To find out how else Alt Text can help with SEO optimization, we will next discuss how utilizing alt text can improve SEO performance even further.

How Does Alt Text Help with SEO?

Alt text, also known as alternative text, helps to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of a website by providing additional information that can be picked up by search engines. Sometimes referred to as alt attributes or alt descriptions, it is important for these to be added as they assist search engine robots in understanding an image’s content and context when crawling through websites. If a meaningful description is supplied which accurately determines the relevance of that image; this could have a positive impact on the overall ranking of the page in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Arguments have been made both for and against including Alt Text for SEO purposes. On one hand, some experts believe that adding such descriptions increases the relevance of the page to its target keyword due to being able to include more words related to it. Their position is that keywords included in Alt texts assists in boosting the rankings for those specific queries. However, there are also many detractors who contend that such an approach may dilute the effectiveness of other on-page content. These individuals argue that overuse of keywords — something which the mere presence of an Alt description encourages — could actually lead to penalties from major search engines like Google for violating webmaster guidelines.

At this point, it is still widely accepted that Alt texts do play a role in optimizing web pages for higher rankings. Therefore, despite debates surrounding their actual effectiveness, it would be wise to incorporate them into any existing site whenever possible so as not to miss out on any potential benefits they may bring.

It is clear that employing Alt text can offer some tangible benefits in terms of SEO but incorporating them correctly and utilizing them purposefully can go even further towards improving a website’s accessibility. To gain further insight into this aspect which is equally important, we will now explore accessibility and how Alt Text affects it in the following section.

Accessibility and Alt Text

When it comes to accessibility and alt text, the balance is delicate but critical. Alt text is designed to provide a textual equivalent of an image – giving an accurate description of the content, including relevant details such as size and colour. It allows visually impaired individuals to understand a website or document in a way that makes sense for them.

On one hand, alt text can be incredibly beneficial when used correctly. Textual equivalents provide clarity and context for those who are unable to view images in the traditional way and ultimately increase their ability to access online content. On the other hand, misusing alt text such as entering unrelated keywords rather than descriptors can actually degrade the experience of those using screen readers, often resulting in confusion and frustration.

Because reaching both audiences – those relying on visual content versus those relying on written – is so important, developers must take great care to include reliable and useful alt text that accurately describes image components without sacrificing any relevant information or hindering accessibility efforts. Proper use of alt text can also create significant SEO benefits – with higher visibility leading to higher traffic.

Therefore, it stands to reason that by taking the time to properly implement descriptive alt text into websites and documents, designers can satisfy the diverse needs of all audiences while avoiding any potential accessibility issues. Moving forward, this section will discuss how to make alt text accessible for visually impaired users specifically; but it’s important to remember that providing clear and high-quality descriptions should remain a prime objective when approaching all sites or documents which could benefit from Alternate Text implementation. With that in mind, let’s move on to making Alt Text accessible for visually impaired users.

Making Alt Text Accessible to Visually Impaired

Alt text is an important part of making web content universally accessible by providing visually impaired users the ability to view and understand image-based content. Visually impaired users often depend on screen reader programs to interpret digital information. However, many screen readers cannot interpret the visual imagery presented in images and render it into meaningful speech. This is where alt text becomes incredibly useful.

Alt text plays a critical role in helping screen readers to interpret digital content. By providing brief descriptions of images and videos, alt text allows visually impaired users to interpret visual information on webpages as easily as non-visually impaired users can. Further, putting descriptive keywords into the alt text can help improve both accessibility and search engine optimization. As such, there is no argument that alt text plays a powerful role in the lives of visually impaired individuals by facilitating greater access to web content for them.

Overall, the use of alt text provides greater accessibility to visually impaired individuals who rely on technical aids to perceive online content that would otherwise be available only to non-visually impaired users. Without making use of alt text, web designers are essentially excluding tech-savvy people with vision impairments from accessing their content completely or adequately. Moreover, since alt text does not affect the visual display and design of your site, it should be implemented at the very least as it has multiple benefits and minimal costs associated with it.

Now that we have discussed how making alt text accessible helps in providing enhanced accessibility to visually impaired individuals, let’s move on to discussing other uses of alt text in our next section.

Other Uses of Alt Text

Alt text can also be used for other, non-SEO or accessibility related purposes. For instance, a company which needs to show a screenshot of a software interface in a presentation or article may include alt text on the image to visually describe it. In this case, the text should explain exactly what will be seen on the image, such as “The user interface for our software includes four tabs and search bar at the top.”

In some situations, alt text can even be used as an additional conduit for delivering information. A few news sites, for example, use specific characters in their images’ alt text to add interesting details that viewers who are browsing without images enabled can appreciate. This can range from data points – like percentage numbers – to a humorous phrase that captures the tone and sentiment of an article such as “This Shakespearean painting is simply majestic”. Though arguably these uses of alt text have less practical application than SEO optimization and accessibility, they do have the potential for providing additional value to whether viewers decide to click and view an image or not.

On one hand, some argue that this type of usage undermines the spirit of proper alt text implementation. On the other hand, using alt text creatively can be useful as every online channel has limited real estate and more information must often find innovative ways to be conveyed. Whether you consider it beneficial or harmful depends ultimately on personal opinions and individual situations.

Conclusion: Alt text is more than just a tool for improved SEO and accessibility – it can also be used in other contexts to provide additional value and information to viewers who cannot access images. In the next section, we’ll look at concluding thoughts about alt text and its importance in both SEO and accessibility contexts.

Conclusion

The importance of alt text should not be underestimated. Properly used, alt text will improve user experience, accessibility, and SEO – all while simultaneously reinforcing the overall image of a website’s professionalism and reliability.

Alt text should not be a chore, either; it’s easy to create and can be written in such a way that it improves the content and overall readability of an article or website without getting in the way of reader enjoyment.

Overall, it should be considered essential for any serious webmaster to understand what alt text is and how to use it effectively. Many users now rely on alt text for their day-to-day activities, so failing to use it properly could mean missing out on valuable readers or even potentially running afoul of accessibility laws. For those who are interested in SEO, it offers an opportunity to cap off an effective SEO campaign with added visibility from search engines.

At the same time, however, some argue that Google has downgraded the importance of alt tags when it comes to SEO. This means that there is still debate about how significant they are in terms of ranking factors. While there is no definitive answer to this question, most experts agree that alt tags still have some measure of influence on SEO ranking and therefore should not be overlooked completely.

In conclusion, using alt tags for SEO purposes should still be a part of every comprehensive marketing strategy. They are also essential for accessibility purposes as well as providing descriptive information about an image to users without having to depend solely on visual cues alone. In short, ensuring that you include appropriate alt tags on your images is one more way you can ensure success both online and offline.

Responses to Common Questions with Detailed Explanations

Are there any other types of text that should be used in addition to alt text?

Yes, there are several other types of text that should be used in addition to alt text, depending on the context and purpose of your website. For example, Captions provide detailed information about images, while transcripts provide text-based alternatives to audio or video content. Metadata can also provide additional descriptive information about the image, such as its size, color-space, and file type. Each of these types of text serves a distinct purpose and should be used alongside alt text to ensure maximum accessibility and SEO optimization.

How does alt text help with website accessibility?

Alt text is a major component in making websites accessible for people with disabilities. It allows screen readers, which are often used by individuals who are visually impaired or blind, to interpret the content of an image and make it understandable to the user. Alt text also allows visitors with slower internet connections to quickly identify the images on a website when they take longer to load. Alt text also provides a text alternative for images that are not available due to technical problems. By providing both visual and non-visual information about an image, alt text helps people understand the context of images regardless of their browser or computer set up. Additionally, alt text can be used to improve the ranking of web pages in search engine results by targeting relevant keywords.

What are the best practices for adding alt text for images on a website?

The best practices for adding alt text for images on a website are as follows:

1. Make sure the text accurately reflects the image and its purpose on the page. Alt text should provide an accurate description, not a keyword-stuffed caption.

2. Limit alt text to no more than 125 characters (including spaces). Writing concisely helps ensure screen reader users don’t experience too much of a disruption during their browsing experience.

3. Avoid using phrases such as “image of” or “picture of”—these terms can be inferred from the context of the page and therefore do not add value for readers who cannot see the image.

4. Always thoroughly test any content changes by using a screen reader to verify that your alt text is properly read aloud and descriptive enough that someone who cannot view the image has enough context to get the right message/understand what is being conveyed.

By following these best practices, marketers and website owners can create an enjoyable and accessible user experience while also reaping SEO benefits from well-crafted alt text descriptions.

Last Updated on March 21, 2023

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at info@matt-jackson.com