How to Properly Use Image Alt Tags
The Forgotten and Under Used Image Alt Tags
To get your website indexed better. A simple method is the proper use of image alt tags. We have compiled these articles to assist you in making this task easier.
Alt text (alternative text), also known as “alt attributes,” “alt descriptions,” or technically incorrectly as “alt tags,” are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.
1. Adding alternative text to photos is, first and foremost, a principle of web accessibility. Visually impaired users using screen readers will be read an alt attribute to understand an on-page image better.
2. Alt text will be displayed in place of an image if an image file cannot be loaded.
3. Alt text provides better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.
<img src=”pupdanceparty.gif” alt=”Puppies dancing”>
The best format for alt text is sufficiently descriptive but doesn’t contain any spammy attempts at keyword stuffing. If you can close your eyes, have someone read the alt text to you, and imagine a reasonably accurate version of the image, you’re on the right track.
Why is alt text important?
Millions of people are visually impaired, and many use screen readers to consume online content—these work by converting on-screen content, including images, to audio.
Images without alt text cause problems for screen readers because there’s no way to communicate the image’s content to the user. Usually, they skip over these images, or worse, read out long and unhelpful image filenames.
Google looks at the words on a page to understand what it’s about.
For example, if the page mentions poodles, labradors, and retrievers, Google knows it’s about dog breeds.
How does this relate to images?
Because sometimes, context is ‘locked away’ in images that Google can’t read.
While Google can almost certainly tell that these are images of dogs without alt text, the specific breed may be less obvious—and that’s where alt text comes in.
Google Images is the world’s second-largest search engine. It’s responsible for 20.45% of all online searches, putting it ahead of YouTube, Bing, and other search engines combined.
This means there’s an opportunity to drive traffic from Google Images.
Just look at the number of clicks we’ve had to the Ahrefs Blog from Google Images in the past three months.
Anchor text refers to the clickable words that link one webpage to another. Google uses it to understand more about the web page and what it’s about.
But not all links are text; some are images.
If you decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more about the page you’re linking to. Imagine that you’re writing anchor text for a text link.
Alt-text isn’t rocket science.
Follow these five best practices, and you should be good.
- Be concise. Lengthy alt text is annoying for those using screen readers. Use as few words as possible. (Use the longdesc attribute if a long description is necessary.)
- Be accurate. Focus on describing the image.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. This is not a place to shoehorn keywords.
- Avoid stating that it’s an image. There’s no need to include “Image of…” or “Picture of…” in descriptions. Both Google and screen readers can work that out for themselves.
- Avoid redundancy. Don’t repeat information that already exists within the context of the image. For example, if you have a photo of Steve Jobs and the text directly below the image reads “Steve Jobs,” there’s no need to add this description to the alt tag. Google should understand that the caption is effectively the alt text.
It would help if you also remembered to add alt text to form buttons. Otherwise, screen readers might pass over them, and some visitors won’t be able to interact with your website.
We all need the best method of achieving higher organic results. Image alt tags can be one of those tools to make that possible. If you get stuck and need help, give hughesagency.ca a call today.
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