What Is Alt Text for Images?
Image alt text, which is short for alternative text, describes image details and its purpose on a website. It is also referred to as alt attributes and alt tags. You can find the alt text code within your website’s HTML code.
An image’s alt text may look like this:
<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image title”>
<img src="image.gif" alt="Image">
Alt text was initially created for the visually impaired to help identify online images. Screen-reading software reads this text aloud to its users. Alt text also appears in place of images on browsers that block them and shows up in place of its image when pages don’t load correctly.
In addition to making your site more accessible, alt text is read by search engine crawlers. It is important to develop a web design and format that optimizes SEO and crawlers. When ranking websites, crawlers view your images using this portion of code. It then decides the value of the image in relation to its page and your site overall.
Why Is Alt Text Important?
Whether you Google “Bluetooth speaker” or “Benjamin Franklin,” images appear in the search results. For years, Google has increased the importance of visual media for several reasons:
- Images add to the accessibility and usability of your site.
- Most people are visual learners. Moreover, it is easier for people to grasp developed written content when it’s broken up by other types of media. Hosting high-quality and relevant images on your website encourages Google to view your site as reliable in its field and user-friendly.
Ultimately, good alt text should be descriptive. In a few words, describe what’s in the image and include any related keywords. If you’re unsure whether or not your alt text makes sense have it read to you with your eyes closed.
What Does Good Alt Text Look Like?
<img src="speaker.gif" alt="">
These are examples of bad alt descriptions because they don’t include any actual alt text. If your image doesn’t need any alt text, consider adding it to your CSS.
<img src="speaker.gif" alt="speaker speakers small speaker home speaker wireless speaker Bluetooth speakers black speaker buy speaker">
This is an example of keyword stuffing in alt attributes. Keyword stuffing is widely regarded as a bad practice because most search engines evaluate it as spam.
<img src="speaker.jpeg" alt="black speaker">
This is a better example of alt text because it includes a one-word description of the speaker.
<img src="speaker.png" alt="small black wireless speaker sits on table">
This is an even better example of an alt attribute for the speaker image because it provides a brief illustration of the image. A few, wisely-chosen words can detail even simple pictures.
Tips for Writing Effective Alt Text
Writing better alt text is a key on-page SEO tactic that improves online users' access to your site and experience. Use the tips below as guidance when writing alt titles and descriptions for your site’s images.
- Write useful descriptions for effective images.
Choosing relevant images is as important as writing informative alt descriptions. When looking at a page, Google’s algorithms attempt to weigh the value of the content. Sites that rank highly in search results are the ones Google believes are the most helpful to the user.
- Use keywords but avoid stuffing titles and descriptions.
Alt descriptions are an excellent space to enter keywords for your business. Likewise, changing the file name of an image to a related keyword could help boost its search engine optimization performance. However, filling those spaces with as many keywords as you hope to rank for could end up hurting your website instead.
- Keep descriptions short (or use longdesc=“”).
Alt descriptions shouldn’t be longer than 125 characters to accommodate most screen readers. If you do need more space to describe the image, use the HTML code longdesc=“”.
- Move appropriate images or graphics to CSS.
Typically, images and graphics that are a part of your website’s design should be kept in your CSS instead of the HTML. There, site crawlers won’t read the image or analyze its alt attributions.
- Add alt text to button images.
If you’ve got buttons that direct visitors to “Learn More” or “Buy Now,” you have images that need alt attributes. These descriptions should include the function of the button, allowing screen readers to direct users to the appropriate call to action. For example, using the image to the right to buy men’s dress shirts, the alt text might read, “button to buy men’s dress shirts with ties”.
At Cork Tree Creative, we are skilled and experienced in writing for SEO to optimize alt text, improve user- experience, and gain higher search engine rankings. Our SEO and strategic planning services work together to successfully optimize your images.