If you’re stepping into the world of SEO, you might find yourself inundated with acronyms and jargon. One such term that holds substantial weight is “ALT text.” Now, you might be wondering: “What is ALT text? And, how can it help my website’s SEO?”
Exploring these questions, we will dive deep into the significance of ALT text, how it influences your site’s search engine rankings, and why it is a tool you cannot afford to ignore if you’re serious about your online presence.
What Is ALT Text
ALT text, short for “alternative text”, is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) document to tell website viewers the nature or contents of an image. It’s essentially a brief description of an image.
When search engines crawl through your website, they can’t ‘see’ the images, but they can ‘read’ the ALT text. This is how ALT text boosts your on-page SEO, helping search engines understand the content of your images and how they relate to the context of your website.
Different Uses of Alternative Text
Adding text alternatives is important beyond just SEO. Its primary function is to provide clarity for visually impaired users who are using screen readers.
It’s used to describe images and their context, allowing these individuals to understand and interact with the content on the page. It’s important to note that even though many associate ALT text with informative images, it’s equally vital for decorative images too.
ALT text also enhances the UX for those with slow internet connections. If an image fails to load, the ALT text provides a description, preventing the user from missing out on key information.
Moreover, in instances where images are blocked by browsers or email clients, ALT text is displayed in place of the image, ensuring the message is still conveyed and the visitors understand what’s in the image.
Why Is Image ALT Text Important
Writing effective ALT text is not just an optional element of your web pages. It plays a crucial role in enhancing your site’s SEO, accessibility, and overall UX. We’ve already discussed what ALT text is and its various uses. Now, let’s delve into why ALT text is important and how it can significantly impact your website’s performance and search engine ranking.
ALT text is important for improving accessibility. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines website accessibility as providing equal access and opportunity to people with diverse abilities. ALT text serves as a conduit to connect visually impaired users with digital imagery.
Visually impaired users often rely on screen readers, which are software programs that read the text on a webpage aloud. These screen readers can’t interpret images, but they can read the ALT text, thereby providing a textual equivalent of the image.
That said, accessibility is not just about catering to disabled users. Consider scenarios where images are turned off to save on data usage or in areas with slow internet connections; here, ALT text helps provide context and maintains the flow of content.
Enhanced User Experience
UX is a fundamental aspect of any website. The goal is to make visiting your website a pleasant, seamless, and satisfying encounter for all visitors.
ALT text ensures that even when the image files don’t load due to slow internet speed, users still have a clear understanding of what the content of the image would have conveyed. This is especially important in cases where key information is conveyed through infographics or charts.
ALT text also augments the UX by providing context to your images, thus adding value to your content and making it more engaging for all users.
Image Search SEO
One of the most impactful benefits of using ALT text is its value in image SEO. Search engines such as Google place a high degree of importance on images when determining the subject matter of a webpage.
ALT tag becomes a critical factor in this process, as it helps search engines understand the content of your images and how they contribute to your site’s context. This not only helps improve your visibility in general search engine results, but it also boosts your presence in image search results — an area that is often overlooked but can drive substantial traffic to your site.
How to Write Good ALT Text
To help you write ALT text, let’s consider some examples from our previous blog posts:
The ALT attribute for this image is: “Calculating Your PPC Budget”
This is a good example of ALT text examples because it accurately describes the image without using unnecessary adjectives or keyword stuffing. It’s simple, and straight to the point, and it gives the reader an understanding of the image content.
The ALT text for this image is: “Winning SEO strategy”
Again, we see a clear, concise description of the image’s content. It does not contain unnecessary adjectives or keywords. Instead, it focuses on the important elements of the image that add value to the overall content of the post.
The ALT text for this image is: “Organic Traffic: Ways To Increase Your Website’s Visibility”
This ALT text is effective as it not only describes the image but also effectively relates to the article’s topic.
How to Add ALT Text to Your Images
Adding ALT text to your images is a relatively simple process that can be done in a few steps, regardless of the content management system (CMS) you are using.
- Upload your image in the Media Library or directly into a post or page.
- Click on the uploaded image, and a sidebar will appear with the image details.
- You will find a field labeled “ALT Text” or “Alternative Text”. Enter your descriptive ALT text in this field.
- Click on ‘Update’ or ‘Save’ to ensure your ALT text is saved with the image.
- From your Shopify admin, go to ‘Products’ > ‘All products.’
- Click on the name of the product that you want to edit.
- In the ‘Images’ section, click on the image that you want to add ALT text to.
- Click on ‘ALT’ and enter your ALT text into the ‘Alternative text’ box.
- Click on ‘Done’ to save your changes.
- Click an insert point on the page where you want to add an image, and then click ‘Image.’
- Upload an image, and then click ‘Design’ to set your ALT text.
- Click on ‘Caption Below’ or ‘Caption Overlay.’
- Enter your ALT text in the ‘Write here…’ field.
- Click on ‘Apply’ to save your changes.
ALT text is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance the accessibility, UX, and SEO of your website. By providing descriptive, concise ALT text for your images, you are ensuring that your content can be understood and appreciated by a broader audience, including those with visual impairments and those with slow internet connections.
Furthermore, it improves your visibility on search engines, driving more traffic to your website. So, don’t overlook this seemingly small detail—it can make a big difference!
Why use ALT text on social media?
Using ALT text on social media is incredibly beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, it improves accessibility by providing context to visually impaired users who may be utilizing screen readers to comprehend the content. Secondly, it enhances your SEO efforts on these platforms, as search engines can index your images based on the ALT text, improving your content’s discoverability.
Lastly, if an image fails to load for any reason, the ALT text describes what the image would have conveyed, ensuring your followers don’t miss any vital information. So, similar to websites, using ALT text on social media is a best practice you should adopt.
What is the difference between image title and ALT text?
Image title and ALT text work together to enhance your images’ usability, but they serve two distinct functions. ALT text is used by screen readers and search engines to understand what an image is about. It’s critical for accessibility and SEO.
Image titles, on the other hand, are used to provide additional information and to add a tooltip when hovering over the image. While ALT text is a must-have for all images, image titles are optional and can be used when additional information or context is necessary. However, both should be descriptive and provide value to the user.
How long should alt text be?
ALT text should be succinct yet descriptive. It’s generally recommended to keep your ALT text at around 125 characters as screen readers typically stop reading ALT text at this point. However, the length can slightly vary depending on the complexity and context of the image.
For complex images, the alternative text consists of two components. The first part serves as a concise description, enabling image identification and, when necessary, hinting at the whereabouts of the detailed description. The latter part comprises an extensive description, offering a textual depiction of the crucial information conveyed by the image.