What is ALT text and why do I need it?

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ALT text is short for ‘alternative text’. ALT text is added to images embedded on a web page in order to give meaning to that image for users who cannot see it.

The primary reason for ALT text is for accessibility, to ensure your website is inclusive and works for all users.

ALT text is also very useful for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) since when Google indexes your website it uses ALT text to help tag images and help return relevant images in Image Search queries.

Also, if images don’t load for any reason (for example a slow mobile network) the text will appear in a blank box that would normally contain the image.

It is important and necessary to add ALT text to the photos on your website for four main reasons:-

  1. If images fail to load the ALT tag will display in its place. This means visitors to that web page understand what image should be there even though they are unable to see it
  2. Search engines, such as Google and Bing regularly crawl web pages. It is easy for them to understand text copy on a page, however, images are difficult to read. ALT text is used to describe to search engines what the image is showing, allowing search engines to give users better results when performing an image search
  3. ALT text is a great place to include your main keyword to improve your image search ranking for that term. However, it is important to use appropriate text that actually describes your image. You should not include keywords if they are not relevant to the image being displayed
  4. The visually impaired tend to use screen readers in order to browse web pages. These screen readers will identify and interpret what is being displayed on their screen. ALT text is needed to explain and describe to people using screen readers what is on your page

When writing ALT text for your website images, bear in mind these points:

  • Keep the text concise but be descriptive
  • Write ALT text for humans, not search engines
  • Don’t include keywords if they do not describe the image

If you would like help on improving your search ranking or other online marketing activity to make your business more visible, please get in touch today.