If you’ve built your own website or worked on your SEO (search engine optimisation) you will have heard of Alt Text.
Do you know what it means and what it’s used for?
Dou know how to use it effectively within your own website?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then this blog post will answer all of these questions and ensure that you are using Alt Text correctly within your site for users and search engines.
What is Alt Text?
Alt text (alternative text) describes the content of an image on a web page and within other digital content.
This text is not visible on the website and sits in the HTML code of the site itself as an alt attribute.
So, why bother adding it if you can’t see it anyway?
There are two main reasons why adding well-thought-out Alt Text to your images is important:
1. It is primarily used for accessibility
It serves as a way to provide context and meaning to visual content for individuals who are visually impaired or have difficulty seeing images. When a screen reader encounters an image with alternative text, it reads aloud the description to provide a comprehensive understanding of the image’s content. This ensures that digital content is accessible to as many people as possible.
Imagine you have a photo of a dog like this on your website and the Alt Text simply says IMG_29483.png – this gives no context for someone who relies on a screen reader to undersand the image. It would be better to have text that says “black dog giving someone a high five”
2. Good Alt Text makes your site more SEO-friendly
Although search engines are getting more advanced, they still can’t actually ‘see’ pictures, at least for now. So adding this feature allows them to understand what your photos are about within the context of your website. In turn, this allows your images to be indexed more effectively and search engines to show your pictures in search results.
However, when adding keywords to Alt Text, remember that this is still primarily used for accessibility so ‘keyword packing’ is not recommended. Below is an example of what badly written alternative text sounds like when someone has tried to cram in as many keyword locations as possible:
Alt Text Example
What should I include in my Alt Text?
When writing Alt Text, remember to keep the content as succinct and descriptive as possible. For the example above, you could write “[Company name] electrician installing a new kitchen light fitting in Staffordshire”.
- ensure it includes a clear description of what is in the image
- keep the length of your text to a maximum of 140 characters.
- make sure it is readable – in plain English
How do you add Alt Text?
Where you add Alt Text very much depends on the website platform you are using as each will have a different location for adding this.
For other website platforms, simply search within their Help documentation to find out where Alt Text can be added.
Next steps in Accessibility
Alt Text is just one way that you can make your website more accessible to everyone, regardless of impairment.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) cover a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible and there are free tools, such as the free website accessibility scan at Accessibe that can show you what other steps you need to take to bring your website up to scratch.
If you have a Wix website you can take their free Accessibility Course and Certification to learn more about what accessibility really means and prove that you have the knowledge to build those features into your own site.
To wrap up, Alt Text is extremely important to ensure that your website is accessible to all, and it can also be a great help to your SEO when used correctly.
And, if you need a little help figuring out where it goes on your website, give us a call!
Holly Hinton has been involved in IT since 2001 when she started working as a Microsoft IT trainer in London. She is passionate about using technology for the good of all. Connect with Holly on LinkedIn.