Images are an important part of any website. Not only do they make your content more engaging, but they can also improve your search engine rankings. However, images can’t be read by search engines like text can.
This is where alt text comes in. Alt text is a short description of an image that search engines and screen readers can read. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of alt text for images in terms of SEO and accessibility. We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide on how to add alt text to images.
Alt text is an HTML attribute that can be added to an image tag. It’s used to describe the content of an image in a way that search engines and screen readers can understand. Alt text is also important for accessibility. Screen readers can read out the alt text to visually impaired users, making the content more accessible to them.
Understanding Alt Text for Images
Alt text, also known as “alternative text,” is a brief description of an image that can be read by screen readers for the visually impaired. Alt text is added to website images to provide context and meaning to users who cannot see the visual content.
Adding alt text to website images has become increasingly important for both search engine optimization (SEO) and accessibility reasons. Alt text helps search engines understand the content of an image, making it easier for them to rank it appropriately in search results. Additionally, alt text allows visually impaired individuals to understand the content of an image.
Alt text should be concise and descriptive, typically no more than a few words to a sentence long. It should accurately describe the content of the image and include relevant keywords whenever possible without keyword stuffing.
Importance of Alt Text in Image SEO
Alt text plays a vital role in image SEO. Search engines cannot “see” images, so they rely on alt text to understand what the image is about. Alt text helps search engines determine the relevance of the image to the content on the page, ensuring that the image is properly categorized and indexed.
When writing alt text for images, it’s important to use descriptive language that accurately represents the image’s content. This not only helps with image SEO, but it also provides a better user experience for individuals who cannot see the image.
Best Practices for Adding Alt Text to Website Images
When adding alt text to website images, there are several best practices to follow:
- Be descriptive and accurate in your alt text descriptions.
- Include relevant keywords, when appropriate, without keyword stuffing.
- Keep your alt text concise, typically no more than a sentence in length.
- Use hyphens to separate words rather than spaces or underscores.
- Avoid using alt text for decorative images as they do not provide meaningful content to users.
By following these best practices, you can ensure that your alt text is effective for both SEO and accessibility purposes.
How to Optimize Alt Text for Search Engines
Alt text not only improves the accessibility of your website, but it can also boost your SEO. Here are some tips to optimize your alt text for search engines:
1. Be descriptive and accurate
When writing alt text, be descriptive and accurate. Alt text should convey the purpose of the image and what it represents. Use specific details and avoid generic phrases.
Example: Instead of using alt text like “woman smiling”, use “young woman smiling while holding a cup of coffee.”
2. Use relevant keywords
Include relevant keywords in your alt text, but avoid overusing them. Keyword stuffing can result in penalties from search engines.
Example: If you’re a bakery showcasing your cakes, use alt text like “chocolate cake with strawberries” instead of just “cake.”
3. Keep it short and sweet
Keep your alt text concise and to the point. Aim for around 125 characters or less. This ensures that your alt text won’t get cut off or truncated in search results.
Example: Instead of using a long sentence, use something like “dog playing catch in park.”
4. Follow accessibility guidelines
When optimizing your alt text, it’s important to follow accessibility guidelines. This means ensuring that your alt text is descriptive enough for people with visual impairments to understand the image.
Example: If you’re using an image of a graph, include alt text that describes the information in the graph.
5. Use the alt attribute for image optimization
The alt attribute is a tool you can use to improve the SEO of your images. This attribute provides alternative text for search engines to read and understand the content of the image.
Example: Instead of using alt text like “dog,” use the alt attribute to add more descriptive text like “golden retriever playing fetch in the park.”
Alt Text Best Practices for Images
Writing effective alt text is not only important for improving SEO, but also for making images accessible to people with disabilities who use screen readers or other assistive technologies. Here are some best practices for writing alt text:
- Be descriptive: Alt text should describe the content and function of the image in a concise manner. Avoid using generic terms like “image” or “picture.”
- Include relevant keywords: Incorporate relevant keywords into your alt text to improve SEO, but do not stuff your alt text with too many keywords.
- Keep it short: Alt text should be brief and to the point. Aim for 125 characters or less, but include enough detail to convey the meaning of the image.
- Avoid repeating surrounding text: Do not repeat the same information that is already provided in the surrounding text or header.
- Think about context: Consider the context in which the image appears and write alt text that provides the necessary information. For example, alt text for a button image should describe the action that will be taken when the button is clicked.
- Handle decorative images appropriately: If an image is purely decorative and does not convey any information, leave the alt text blank or use an empty alt attribute.
Following these best practices will help ensure that your alt text is effective for both SEO and accessibility purposes. Remember to review and update alt text regularly to reflect any changes to your site’s content and functionality.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Alt Text
Alt text is an important aspect of SEO and accessibility for images on your website. Here are some common questions about alt text:
How do I add alt text to images?
To add alt text to images, simply include the “alt” attribute when inserting the image tag into the HTML. For example, <img src=”image.jpg” alt=”description of image”>
How many characters should alt text be?
It’s best to keep alt text concise and to the point. While there’s no strict character limit, aim for under 125 characters.
What should I include in alt text?
Make sure your alt text accurately describes the image and its purpose on the page. Include relevant keywords if applicable, but avoid keyword stuffing. Alt text should be meaningful and descriptive for visually impaired users.
What if the image is decorative or doesn’t provide valuable information?
In cases where the image is purely decorative and doesn’t convey any important information, leave the alt text blank (alt=””). For images that provide some information, but not enough to warrant a full description, use a short and simple alt text.
How do I add alt text to background images?
Unfortunately, background images cannot have alt text. Instead, use a CSS property called “aria-label” to provide a text description of the image for screen readers. For example, <div aria-label=”description of background image” style=”background-image:url(image.jpg)”>