Trends and best practices for websites are constantly changing, and image ALT tags are no exception. An ALT tag (or ALT text) is a piece of written text that appears in place of an image on a website if for some reason that image doesn’t appear on the screen. So what’s its purpose, how do you write one, and why does it matter?
ALT text helps to create an accessible website
A primary use for image ALT tags is to help people with visual impairments have equal access to web content. Visually impaired website visitors use screen reading software that reads content aloud on a page, but without an image ALT tag to describe images, they won’t be able to understand an image’s purpose.
This is where image ALT tags have changed over time. While it used to be sufficient to simply describe what’s being displayed in an image, it’s now considered best practice to describe the image and its purpose.
ALT text is good for SEO
Writing good ALT text for your images helps your website appear in search engine results in several ways:
- Search engines like Google read an image’s alt text like they do text on a page, and use it to help determine what a website is about.
- ALT text also helps your image appear in an image search–another way people can find your website.
- ALT text is great for improving the user experience on your website. Google knows when people like your site by how much time they spend on it, and they will rank you higher in search engine results.
Here are some helpful tips for writing good ALT text:
- Describe the image and be specific, but keep it short like a tweet.
- Add context that relates to the topic of the page.
- No need to say “image of” or “photo of.”
- If it’s a graph, describe the information it conveys, such as trends or maximum and minimum values.
- Include text that’s part of the image itself.
- Use keywords when appropriate, but be careful not to “keyword stuff.”
- Don’t make assumptions or editorialize the image’s content.
Struggling with image ALT tags or other tasks related to search engine optimization? Check out our range of SEO services and give us a call… we’d love to chat!