In what way does alt text help?
Different images can serve different purposes, such as adding visual appeal or providing additional information. In a webpage, alt text describes the purpose of an image. The purpose of this feature is to improve the accessibility of your website so that visually impaired users can still read the information that your image conveys. When an image cannot be loaded, alt text is displayed instead.
What are the benefits of alt text?
You can use images for more than just decorating your website. Content can be enhanced by their ability to store information. Charts, for instance. A chart depicting the increase in sales in the UK over the past decade might be helpful to your user if they are reading your blog post. If they cannot access the chart because they are consuming media on a mobile device with poor connection, or have a reading option enabled, or many other reasons, you still want them to benefit from the data, so they don't have a negative experience.
Visual enhancement isn't just appreciated by humans. Bots can read alt text even though they can't see images. Indexing web pages is done by search engine crawlers. In addition to reading the text on your pages, they also read the alt text, so making it as simple as possible to find important information is paramount.
How does alt text affect Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
The alt text of an image can improve SEO because it's a key ranking factor for search engines. Crawlers index pages using alt text, as mentioned earlier. In order to rank your web page, they read them in order to gain a better understanding of the topic. By adding alt text to your images, you can help the crawlers rank you for the content you want to rank for.
The best way to write effective alt text
It's not just a matter of stringing together a few words and hoping for the best when writing alt text. If you want to optimise your images effectively, you should follow a few rules. Among them are:
- Make sure you are as specific as possible – The alt text on an image explains what the graphic is depicting, so it's important to do it right. You should try to convey the image's message or meaning clearly so that people who can't see the image can still understand your content.
- Keep it brief – Keep the description short and concise to ensure clarity, even though it might be easy to get carried away. When writing alt text, don't go over 125 characters.
- Make sure keywords are included – Including your keywords in your alt text will help your content rank for relevant search queries as search engines look for alt text. However, you shouldn't stuff them in if they aren't relevant.
- Follow best practices for SEO – You should still follow SEO best practices when writing alt text since it can help you with SEO. It may boost your ranking to add keywords to alt text, but keyword stuffing is not a good idea. You want your alt text to be helpful, and if you overload it with keywords, your content may lose relevance.
- Contextualise where necessary – An image may be chosen based on its context on a page. As an example, you may read about the first day of college exams and scroll down to see an image of students. Try adding context to the image instead of describing it as just a group of students. For example, you could say, "College students are nervously waiting to take their first exam."
- Leaving out "this is a picture of" is a good idea – Screen readers and Google know when they come across an image, so adding that in the alt text is unnecessary.
Examples of good alt text
Alt text: Sunset reflected in the ocean
Alt text: Editorial meeting to discuss project
You can improve the accessibility and search engine optimisation of your site by using alt text. To ensure that your visitors have the best experience, use alt text to add value to your content. Describe the image in a concise and accurate way, make sure you're using the correct terms, and consider the best way to convey the message, such as using a list, when writing alt text.