Alt Text: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Write It

Because Google cannot see your images, it is crucial to spend time creating alt text. It not only improves your SEO but also increases user accessibility across the board for your website.

The ALT element of an image’s IMG tag in HTML code contains written descriptions of the images, often known as alternative text or alt text.

These text descriptions, which are also known as “alt attributes” or “alt descriptions,” give details on the appearance and purpose of images on a website in the event that they don’t load or if a user has a visual impairment.

The purpose of alt text, which was originally created to aid the blind and visually impaired in understanding what an image depicts when the screen reader reads the text excerpt back to them, is to enhance the internet browsing experience for everyone.

When an image fails to load, alt text displays in its place, is indexed by search engine bots to help them better comprehend the content of your website, and is read aloud by screen readers used by people who are visually impaired.

Therefore, alt text is essential for search engines to help them comprehend a website and give users the best results when they search online.

In addition to serving that important purpose, alt text is essential for search engines to effectively understand and recognize the images on your website while they are analyzing your content in response to a search.


Why Is Alt Text Used?

Three main objectives of alt text are search engine optimization, website accessibility, and text replacement for images that load slowly or not at all.

Alt text is a useful SEO tool that every website owner and content marketer should employ. You can use ALT text to guide traffic to your website from image searches in addition to assisting website crawlers in understanding a picture’s contents.

Internet users who have visual impairments, such as blindness or color blindness, rely on alt text for accessibility to fully access a website’s content. Alt text is read aloud for screen reader and other assistive technology users. This makes the content on the website more understandable for users of screen readers.

Alt text assists a user who has limited bandwidth or opts to disable their browser pictures to conserve data with loading issues and user experience. If an image file cannot be loaded, its alternative text will be shown instead. Additionally, when alt text replaces a picture, your information is enhanced and the reader has a more complete grasp of the language.


How Does Alt Text Impact SEO?

Fundamentally, the goal of alt text is to increase accessibility by explaining what an image is depicting to those who are blind or visually impaired. But it also benefits search engine crawlers, which boosts SEO.

Prioritize making sure images appear when consumers type text-based inquiries when you are optimizing for image search. Follow image SEO best practices, such as schema markup, relevant file names, alt text, and modern file formats, to achieve this.

The success of your website may be significantly influenced by Google image search traffic, depending on the niche and level of specificity of your website. For example, instead of typing the product name into the usual Google search, people frequently begin their search for products on e-commerce websites by conducting a Google picture search.

Search engines need good alt text to return search results because it gives an image semantic meaning and serves as a description of the image. Another way to look at it is that effective alt text provides search engines with more and better information to rate your website with, resulting in a higher ranking.

When a page cannot be shown properly by a browser and the images are not displayed, alt text is still crucial. The website will instead return the alt attributes, which specify what the image should display, in place of the images. The user experience will be much worse if there are no alt attributes set because the user won’t know what image was intended to display.

If you don’t give your images alt attributes, screen readers and browsers will have a tough time interpreting your website, which will make it less enjoyable for those who are blind or visually impaired. Make sure to add informative alt text to all of your website’s photos so that both visitors and search engines can access your material.


How to Write Effective Alt Tags?

Writing alt tags only for SEO purposes can change their true purpose, thus you should avoid doing this when writing them. Keep in mind that the original purpose of alt text was to aid those who are blind or visually impaired in understanding what is happening in an image.

This means that instead of “keyword stuffing,” your top priority should be to describe what is happening in the image. Alt tags should be brief and descriptive, with no more than one or two keywords. Consider describing the image to someone on the phone as one method of doing this. Consider whether or if your listener would gain from an explanation of the aim of the image when you do so.

Don’t simply focus on the image’s description; also take into account possible search terms. Keep in mind that irrelevant or keyword-stuffed alt text can potentially hurt your search engine rankings. Additionally, it won’t help the visitors to your website.

Here are some tips to write excellent alt tags:

  • Be Specific and Concise
    In as few words as possible, describe what is occurring in the image to clarify its purpose. Be specific about what the image depicts and how it relates to the page’s content.
  • Leave Out the Unnecessary
    The screen reader will already recognize this as an image, thus starting your alt text with “image of” or “picture of” will not help you with any of the goals that alt text is intended for.
  • Don’t Prioritize SEO
    People will stuff alt text with keywords and filler because of some SEO techniques. These explanations aim to convey both the image itself and, more importantly, the image within the context of the entire experience.
  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing
    It’s acceptable to use pertinent keywords in your alt text. However, stuffing the website with irrelevant keywords that don’t relate to the image or its purpose won’t help.
  • Create Context
    The picture can be vague (it might be a stock shot), but there’s probably more context than you think. Is one of the characters a professor? Individual in business? What context can you infer from their behavior and clothing? These kinds of information can make the media asset interesting and relevant to a screen reader user.
  • Don’t Use Images as Text
    This is more of a general SEO-friendly web building principle than it is a best practice specific to alt text. You should refrain from utilizing images in place of words because search engines cannot interpret content contained within your photos. If you must, describe in your alt text what your photo is saying.
  • Use Best Practices for Complex Images
    Using accessibility best practices, describe maps, charts, graphs, and any other complicated imagery. Although various browsers view the longdesc=”” element differently, screen reader users can still use it.

Adding Image Alt Text to Your Website

A fantastic approach to make sure the alt text you’re using is actually useful is to test it out before clicking publish. Consider reading the page’s content aloud while using your alt text. You’re on the right track to increasing the accessibility of your website if the language makes sense and complements the overall subject and theme.

So where do you begin when creating alt text for your website and blog posts? Consider conducting a simple audit of your current content to identify areas where you may add alt text to previously untagged images. Keep track of the changes in your organic traffic on the pages to which you have added fresh alt tags. Your SEO approach will advance better the more photos you optimize.

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