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Image Alt Text: All that You Want to Know
We've all seen them before—those curious, two- or three-word descriptions that appear when an image can't be displayed on a website. They're called alt text (or "alt tags"). They might seem like small details, but they actually serve an important purpose! If you want visitors to your website to have the best experience possible, then it's important to understand what alt text is and how to write it effectively.
In this blog post, we'll discuss why utilizing alt text is so important and provide tips for making sure yours is as descriptive and helpful as possible. Whether you're already familiar with SEO techniques or are just now starting out in web design, read on for valuable advice about creating effective image descriptions!
What is an image alt text?
An image alt text is a written copy that you place in an image of the webpage. So, if the image fails to load on the screen, the text will appear in that place. Alt text makes it easier for crawlers to crawl into the image. It increases the chance of getting the image to appear in the Google Image section.
It allows visually impaired readers to know the type of image used in the webpage. They also use text-reading tools to listen to the content of the picture. It helps readers understand the image's content when it fails to load on the webpage.
Why is Alt Text So Important?
Today, around 38% of Google searches recommend images in its SERPs. Experts say the number is going to increase in the future. Even if you implement all the necessary SEO tricks, you will still miss out on traffic if you don't optimize your website's image.
So how to optimize your website's images?
It's through adding alt text to an image. An alt text is also known as an "alt tag" and an "alt description."
Three reasons to add alt texts in your website's images
Not all users can see the images clearly. These include visitors who are blind or visually impaired. They have to rely on screen readers and other devices.
Then some visitors access websites with limited data. For example, if you are abroad, you are in a limited data pack. That's why most users temporarily turn off the image loading option to save data.
Another reason is sometimes pages don't load images. This could be due to server issues or a slow network.
Adding alt texts in images allows all the above readers to get the context of the pictures.
Improves user experience
Google loves it when you make your webpage contents accessible for every user. That includes visually challenged individuals as well.
When visitors get a full-on experience from your website, they feel you care about your readers. This makes them spend more time and come back to you. As a result, your ranking goes up.
Optimizes your images
Optimizing your image alt text means matching the images with users' search intent. Simply put, when users come to the website through an image search, they will stay.
How to write the best image alt text?
Below are some tips for writing the best image alt text to optimize your site's images −
Keep the descriptions specific and brief
Keep everything precise and concise while writing alt texts. You should consider the content of the image. Then think about why you are using that particular image.
If the image is of a flooded house, write the alt text "a flooded house a hurricane sandy."
This informs your visitors clearly about the content of the image within a few words.
Adding context in the alt text is helpful in SEO. It links an image with the topic of the webpage.
For instance, the page's topic is "how to file a tax return online?"
To support the topic, you add an image of a woman working on her laptop or PC. Then you can add an alt text such as "woman filing taxes online on her laptop".
How to word your alt text entirely depends on the website's topic. Your text should combine the page's topic and surrounding elements inside the image.
Keep the alt text short
You should keep the alt text short. However, make sure to enter enough text to convey the purpose of the image. You simply cannot enter random photos on your page to make it look cool. Each image must have some link to the web page's topic.
Longer descriptions can distract the readers and need clarification, especially visually challenged visitors. It is also counterproductive for SEO. This is because it will confuse search crawlers.
The key trick is to keep the description within 125 characters. The shorter, the better.
Avoid obvious words
Don't start the alt text as "image of kids laughing" or "picture of a baby panda eating bamboo." The HTML code automatically identifies the image or picture. That's why you should avoid these words. It will take up unnecessary space and doesn't add anything else.
Instead, you can use specific alternatives to describe the image. For example, a chart, a screenshot, a graph, etc. You can start your description as "screenshot of iPhone 12 setting page".
Don't go overboard on keywords
Adding a keyword to the alt text increases the chance of ranking in search engines. However, don't limit it to one. Don't stuff the text with keywords as it will negatively affect your SEO.
You need to keep the alt text accurate and specific to the image. Use the keyword only if it fits the description. Otherwise, you are fine without using it.
Don't copy your image caption
Image captioning and alt text are different. An image caption is a text displayed on the screen, mainly below the image. It is used to describe the image in detail. However, alternate text or alt text is a read-aloud text that remains hidden from the user. It only appears when the image fails to load and for visually challenged people to read it aloud using text-to-speech conversion tools.
As explained above, the image caption and alt text include a brief description. However, image captions are a bit longer, while alt texts are concise and accurate. Instead of copying image captions into alt text, you should focus on writing fresh and fairly trimmed content.
Skip alt texts for decorative images
Decorative images are only used to enhance the appearance of the webpage. They convey no real meaning or add value to the content of the page. That's why you don't need to write alt texts for decorative images.
All images use ALT tags, aka alt attributes. However, for decorative images, you should leave the tag empty. Alternatively, you can write "null" in the text fields. This will instruct the screen readers to skip those texts.
Check for spelling mistakes
Since you use minimal characters in the alt text, ensure the spellings are correct. For example, mistakenly writing "components of PC" as "components of CP" will add no meaning. It will further interfere with search crawlers while crawling your site.
Use "longdesc=" to add a longer description
Sometimes, you need to add a longer description to convey the context surrounding the image. In such cases, use the "longdesc=" attribute, including a link. The link should include a website that takes the reader to another page for a full explanation.
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