Alt text is an important element of accessible web design and a good SEO strategy. Its main purpose is to describe images that cannot be loaded properly. Visitors may be unable to view an image if a browser or screen reader blocks it. Alternatively, it may be that sight-impaired users cannot visually identify an image. In most cases, it is pretty easy to add alt text to an image. Most website development platforms (e.g., WordPress) have alt fields built into image editors. Once an alternative text is saved, it should appear in a page’s HTML source code as <img src=”redapple.jpg” alt=”A fresh red apple.”>. Since its inception over 26 years ago, alt text is still important for SEO. Below are several reasons for its constant use:
Improves Site’s Rankings
Whether your content is a business blog post or product page, most search engines need help with seeing the full picture when crawling images. These technologies may get the general picture, but not its true meaning. It is important to note that search engines can’t crawl text that has overlays an image. Let’s say that you have an image of a strawberry. Google might not understand that this is a photo of the aforementioned fruit. With great alt text, you can accurately describe what the fruit is, explaining the image through HTML coding. In addition, these alt tags help boost your SEO and ensure that your images rank in image search results.
Makes Content Accessible for Visually Impaired Users
Today, more individuals than ever are using voice readers to avoid actually reading a page or understand a webpage that fails to load properly. For example, some users are lazy and prefer allowing Alexa or Siri to read the page for them. Alternatively, they may be multitasking or having trouble with accessing websites that are not mobile friendly.
The biggest reason for alt text’s existence, however, is to aid people with visual impairments. According to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), visually impaired and blind individuals are just as likely to surf the Internet as someone with normal vision.
Explains Images that Didn’t Load Properly
Sometimes websites do not load properly and that’s why alt text is used for the sake of visibility. This way, users get a rough idea of what the page is about, especially if images were the bread and butter of the webpage.
Warning: Poor Alt Text Usage
When using alt text, avoid filling it with nonsensical text or leaving the image name in its place. In addition, keyword-stuffing is not helpful either. You should incorporate relevant keywords while succinctly describing your alt text so visitors can understand what the image was supposed to be. Below are a couple of examples of good and bad alt attributes:
- Bad alt text: <img src=”IMGSAMPLEIMAGE2020-2-12.jpg” alt=”Image for WEBSITE!!!”>
- Good alt text: <img src=”red car.jpg” alt=”red Porsche car new paint job”>
If you do not create alt text for every image on your site, you may lose the chance to be as visible as possible online.