Alt text looks like just a tiny part of your web design, but it can make an enormous impact. You may have several misconceptions about alt text and how it can best serve the users of your site, and these may leave you wondering if it is something you should worry about in your own site’s construction.
Whether you use it to improve accessibility or search engine optimization, using alt text effectively is likely to improve both your experience and the users’ experience.
If you need help making your alt text as effective as it can be, we are here to help. Call us at (410) 376-7709 today.
What Is Alt Text?
Alt text is short for “alternative text” and is also referred to as an “alt tag” or “alt description.” Alt text is the written text put into the source code of your website to describe an image. Most often, we think of it as the text that comes up on the page in place of an image that fails to load.
Screen readers also use alt text when they scan through a web page. People who are blind or visually impaired use screen reader programs to access web content.
From a marketing perspective, the role of alt text in improving search engine optimization (also known as SEO) has been increasingly significant.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, describes how a website can improve its engagement and appear on the first page of search engine results. In the past, SEO primarily focused on headings, keywords, and tags. These all remain critical factors in improving SEO.
More recently, the alt text underlying images has also affected SEO. When you type something into a search engine like Google, you will notice that the main page contains not only hyperlinks but also images. These images are not only relegated to the Google Images section of the search engine anymore. They are at the top of the page, and the keywords included in their alt text is likely what got them there.
How Do I Add Alt Text to My Page?
How you add alt descriptions to your site varies slightly based on what platform you are using.
One way to add alt text on many sites is by going into the HTML source code and manually adding an image description. The source code of your image’s alt text will look similar to this, except that we used all capitals where the alt text would go:
<img src=“image.png” alt=“INSERT ALT TEXT HERE”>
On the left is your image source, and the file name of your image. On the right is where you can enter the alt text between the quotation marks.
On content management systems that do not require coding, such as WordPress sites, you will not have to go back into your HTML code to add in alt descriptions. On WordPress, for example, you can simply click on an image, click the “image settings” button, and a box in which you can enter the alt text will come up.
Alt Text for SEO: Best Practices
Focusing on just a few aspects of your alt text can help SEO significantly.
When it comes to SEO, be specific about the content of your image. A tag that simply reads “ice cream” will not rank as highly as one that gets into more detail, such as “chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.”
If you have an image of a generic football helmet, for example, “football helmet” might be an appropriate image description. However, if you are writing about Tom Brady’s helmet from when he played on the New England Patriots, clarify some of that context in your tag. A tag that reads “Tom Brady’s patriots helmet” would match up with someone searching for information on Brady’s career on that team.
Although you want to be specific and detailed in your alt text, being concise is also crucial. Experts recommend writing less than 125 characters in your alt text descriptions, which makes finding the most specific language all the more important.
It is appropriate to include keywords in your alt descriptions, but do not overload your alt text with every relevant word possible. For example, if you are writing alt text of an image for Roosevelt Elementary School, it would not serve SEO or accessibility to write a tag filled with every word on the topic, such as: “Roosevelt Elementary School schools children teachers love learning.” However, if you are writing about this school and your keyword is its location in Lincoln, Nebraska, “Roosevelt Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska” would do a much better job of serving your purposes.
Contact Us Today
At Gauge Digital Media, we provide a risk-free digital marketing consultation for every interested client. Want to learn more about our services? Call our digital marketing specialists today at (410) 376-7709!