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Using Image Alt Text to Enhance Web Accessibility and SEO Effectiveness (2024 Guide)

Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

Let’s talk about something super important in today’s digital world: accessibility.

It’s crucial that everyone can access online content, no matter what their abilities are. One way to make the online world more accessible is by using alt text, for images on web pages and apps.

Alt text gives a quick description of visual elements, making it easier for people who rely on screen readers and other assistive technologies to understand what’s going on. But did you know that alt text can also help your website show up higher in search results?

By getting really good at writing concise and descriptive alt text, you can make sure that everyone can engage with your content and that your website is easy to find.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about image alt texts: from its definition, importance, how to write alt text, to best practices, and more.

What Is Image Alt Text?

What is an alt text meaning? Alt text, also commonly known as alternative text, ALT descriptions, or ALT attributes, is a brief description that conveys the content and context of an image on a digital platform, such as a website or an app.

The primary aim of image alt text is to offer an alternate way to access the information contained in an image when it is not available or accessible, such as for visual impaired users who rely on screen readers or when images fail to load due to technical issues.

As you incorporate images into your digital content, it’s essential to understand that including alt text for each visual element is not only a best practice for accessibility but also beneficial for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Related: SEO for Beginners Guide

By describing the contents of an image with appropriate keywords, search engine bots can better understand and index the image, potentially improving your content’s visibility in search results.

Why is Alt Text Important?

Accessibility

Alt text is essential for making your digital content accessible to people with visual impairments. When screen readers such as Microsoft Narrator, JAWS, and NVDA encounter images with alt text, they read the description aloud, allowing individuals to understand the visual content.

By adding alt text, you improve inclusivity and ensure that a wider range of users can engage with your content.

Image Alt Text Offers Accessibility | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

User Experience

Providing alt text also enhances the user experience on your website or app. In certain situations, such as a slow internet connection, images might take longer to load or not load at all.

In these cases, alt text serves as a placeholder, offering context and creating a more seamless browsing experience. By prioritizing your audience’s experience, you demonstrate professionalism and create a positive impression for your visitors.

Image Traffic

In addition to accessibility and user experience, alt text can positively impact your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Including relevant keywords in your image’s alt text allows search engines to index your visual content, making it more discoverable. As a result, your website can attract more organic traffic, especially through image searches, enabling you to reach a broader target audience.

Image Alt Text Helps Bring in Image Traffic | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

What is the Optimal Alt Text Format?

Avoidance of Redundant Phrases

When writing alt text, avoid using redundant phrases such as “image of” or “photo of,” as screen readers already announce the presence of an image. Instead, focus on describing the content within the image.

For example, instead of writing “image of a dog,” simply write “a happy golden retriever playing with a ball.”

A Happy Golden Retriever Playing with a Ball | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

Relevance

Ensure your alt text is relevant to the image and the surrounding content. Your alt text should provide an accurate description of the image, as well as context for users who rely on screen readers.

If an image is purely decorative and does not convey important information, you can use an empty alt attribute (alt=””) to prevent screen readers from announcing it.

Brevity

Keep your alt text brief and concise. Aim for a description that is sufficient enough to convey the essence of the image without being too long. As a general guideline, aim for 125 characters or less.

Remember that your goal is to communicate the important aspects of the image without overwhelming the user with superfluous details.

What are Some Alt Text Best Practices?

Describe the Image in Detail

When writing alt text, it’s essential to accurately describe the image you’re referencing. Consider the elements within the image, such as objects, people, colors, and actions taking place.

This way, you provide a thorough description that helps users understand the visual content, especially those using screen readers.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing may be perceived as spam and can hurt your site’s search engine rankings.

Focus on providing an accurate description of the image, and incorporate your keywords naturally.

The Two Types of Keyword Stuffing: Visible and Concealed | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro
Source: Similar Web

Include Your Keywords

Although you should avoid keyword stuffing, it’s still important to include relevant keywords in your alt text.

This practice can benefit your SEO efforts by helping search engines understand your content’s context. Be sure to include your targeted keywords within the alt text, but only if they’re relevant to the image.

Related: Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO

Keep it Relatively Short

Alt text should be concise yet informative. Aim to keep the length between 100 to 125 characters.

This ensures that screen readers don’t cut off the alt text and users can quickly grasp its meaning.

Character Counter Online | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

Add Context

Adding context to your alt text helps users understand the image’s relevance to your content. Consider the image’s purpose and how it relates to the surrounding text.

Providing context will enhance the overall understanding of your content and help search engines better index your pages.

Review for Spelling Errors

As with any written content, it’s vital to check your alt text for spelling errors before publishing. Typos or incorrect language use can diminish the user experience and render your alt text less effective.

Online Phonetic Spelling Checker | Image Alt Text | One Search Pro

Don’t Start Alt Text with “Picture of…” or “Image of…”

When writing alt text, avoid starting the description with phrases like “picture of” or “image of.” These phrases are redundant, as screen readers already announce the presence of an image.

Make your alt text more valuable by focusing on the descriptive content without needing to mention it’s an image.

How Does Alt Text Affect SEO?

Alt text plays a crucial role in optimizing your website for search engines. By providing meaningful and relevant descriptions for your images, you not only enhance user experience but also make your website more accessible.

Firstly, alt text improves crawlability for search engine bots. These crawlers rely on alt text to understand and index the content of images. By providing detailed and optimized alt text, you’ll enhance the discoverability of your website’s visual content, helping search engines better gauge the context of your page and rank it accordingly.

Secondly, alt text is essential for enhancing the accessibility of your website. It is read aloud by screen readers used by visually impaired users, offering them a better understanding of the content on your page. This also helps in boosting your website’s reputation, which can indirectly impact your search engine rankings and website traffic.

Furthermore, if an image fails to load on a web page, alt text will be displayed instead, ensuring that your users don’t miss out on essential information. This can lead to a more seamless user experience, decreasing your website’s bounce rate and increasing the chances of higher user engagement, ultimately benefiting your SEO efforts.

Optimizing Your Website With an SEO Expert

Optimizing your website for search engines can seem like a daunting task, but utilizing alt-text for images is a simple yet effective technique that can yield significant results.

By accurately describing your images with relevant, keyword-rich alt-text, you’re enabling search engines like Google to better understand your content and, in turn, more accurately rank your site.

Incorporating alt-text is just one aspect of a well-rounded SEO strategy. Partnering with an experienced agency such as One Search Pro can help you maximize your online presence and increase traffic to your website. We offer a comprehensive range of SEO services designed to cater to businesses of all sizes.

One Search Pro not only assists with optimizing aspects like alt-text, but also focuses on addressing other components of international and Malaysia SEO, such as:

  • Keyword Research: Identifying the right keywords to target can be crucial to your SEO success. One Search Pro conducts thorough keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the most valuable and relevant terms for your business.
  • On-Page Optimization: Your website’s structure and content play a vital role in ranking well on search engines. The agency evaluates various on-page elements like meta tags, header tags, and URLs, and suggests improvements to ensure maximum visibility.
  • Off-Page Optimization: Building high-quality backlinks to your website is another vital component of SEO. One Search Pro connects you with credible websites in your niche to improve your site’s domain authority and ranking potential.
  • Technical SEO: Crucial technical aspects like site speed, mobile-friendliness, and proper indexing/layout are assessed and optimized to help you achieve the best possible rankings.

Furthermore, as part of their ongoing service, One Search Pro monitors your site’s performance and makes adjustments as needed to ensure continued growth and success.

Wait no more and get in touch with us today to get started on SEO!

FAQs

What is the Difference Between Alt Text and Image Description?

Alt text is a brief description of an image that is embedded within HTML code and is read by screen readers for visually impaired users. It helps convey the meaning and context of the image.

On the other hand, an image description is a more detailed and descriptive explanation of the image, often placed nearby the image like in a caption.

Can Anyone See Your Alt Text?

Alt text is usually not visible to most users, as it is embedded in the HTML code of the image as a HTML image tag. However, if the image fails to load for any reason, the alt tag will be displayed in place of the image.

Additionally, screen readers will read the alt text to provide context for visually impaired users. Developers and tech-savvy individuals can also view alt text by inspecting the page’s source code.

What Should Not be Included in Alt Text?

Avoid using overly visual details, fancy formatting or stylization, and text that is too long. Alt text should be concise and informative without being overly descriptive.

Refrain from including any unnecessary information, such as the file type or size, and avoid using phrases like “image of,” since the purpose of alt text is to convey the content and context of the image.

What Happens If Alt Text is Too Long?

If alt text is too long, it may become more difficult for screen readers to convey the context effectively, as users will need to listen to a lengthy description.

Additionally, long alt text can negatively impact your website’s SEO, as search engines may interpret it as keyword stuffing. Aim to keep alt text around 125 characters or less.

When Not to Use Alt Text?

There are certain cases where you should not use alt text, such as when an image is purely decorative and does not provide any meaningful content or when an image is already described by accompanying text.

In these cases, you can use an empty alt attribute (e.g., alt=””) to inform screen readers that the image can be skipped, ensuring a smoother user experience for visually impaired users.

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