What is ALT text?
Search engines cannot directly “see” images; they rely on ALT TEXT to understand and index them. Before you add a photograph to the internet, either on your website or your social media pages, you should add keywords for your business, and a succinct description of your photo, and this will help search engines understand the image’s content, improving your website’s visibility in image search results. It’s a contraction of Alternative text and is also referred to as ALT tags or ALT descriptions.
Why use ALT text?
Adding alt text to your images is highly recommended for several reasons:
Alt text, short for alternative text, is used to describe images for individuals who cannot see them, such as visually impaired users or those using assistive technologies like screen readers. By providing descriptive alt text, you make your website more accessible, allowing visually impaired users to understand the content and context of the images.
Search engines cannot directly “see” images; they rely on alt text to understand and index them. Including relevant keywords and descriptive alt text helps search engines comprehend the image’s content, which can improve your website’s visibility in image search results. Alt text can also contribute to the overall SEO of the webpage, as search engines consider it as part of the page’s content.
Alt text provides a better user experience for all website visitors. When images don’t load properly due to slow connections or technical issues, alt text is displayed in place of the image, allowing users to understand what the missing image was intended to convey. Additionally, descriptive alt text can provide additional context and information to users, enhancing their understanding and engagement with your content.
Alt text can contribute to image optimisation. Including relevant keywords in your alt text helps search engines understand the content of the image and its relevance to the surrounding text. This can potentially improve your website’s rankings in search results and attract targeted traffic.
How to use ALT text:
Here are some rules for using ALT text well.
- Leave out ‘image of’ or ‘picture of’. If you were scrolling through a website and each picture read out to you is a “picture of”, it can get quite annoying. Try instead mentioning the type of image; an illustration or screenshot for example.
- Your alt text is not a keyword turkey, stop stuffing! Your images aren’t going to be defined by a whole bunch of keywords. If you are cramming as many keywords as possible into your alt text, it may be hurting you rather than helping. Keywords are great for SEO purposes, but adding too many can confuse search engines with the context of the post. This will have a negative effect on your SEO. Try using 1 or 2 keywords at the most if they are relevant and helpful to the description.
- Always include text that’s included in the image. This can be a key feature and important information could get lost if not added. Words within images are not picked up as words so the alt text will allow the user to read the words.
- Don’t repeat yourself. It’s just as annoying as your Sony Walkman CD player, skipping and repeating the same line over and over again until you give it a whack. Try using other ways to describe the image. Being concise is key.
- Not all images need a description. There are two main types of images on a webpage. Illustrative and decorative. Illustrative images help convey information by adding context to the words. This could be something like a diagram, graph, or even a house photo.
- Keep it concise: Aim for alt text that is succinct but informative. Avoid excessively long alt text that may clutter the page or overwhelm screen reader users.
- Decorative images, if taken away, wouldn’t make a difference to how you understand the words. Usually, they provide a visual break from the text and will normally be embedded into the site. You don’t need to add ALT text to decorative images
To summarise, when done right ALT text can help not only SEO but more importantly produce a better user experience for all.
At Social Angels we add ALT TEXT to as many images as we can, when building and designing a website for our estate agency clients, we will also add their Google Business Profile to the images we use on the website, and you can find out more about that HERE.
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