How do I write good alt text attributes?

Alt text (alt attributes) is text that’s used in HTML code or the corresponding field in your content management system (CMS) to describe or identify an image. If the image fails to load, the alt text will be displayed instead. The alt text also helps search engines better understand what the content of your page is about.

Keep reading to learn more about why alt text is important and get tips on how to write good alt text attributes.

Why alt tags are important

Google search results aren’t limited to web pages. There’s a whole category of results for images, but search engines won’t index images on your site unless you add alt attributes. Adding alt attributes is also beneficial when someone is using a text-to-speech program or has a slow internet connection. 

This means alt attributes are crucial for your SEO and user experience (UX). Including alt text for all your images is necessary if you want to boost your website’s traffic and provide the best user experience possible.

How to write good alt text attributes

Writing good alt text is sort of like writing a meta description. Some of the same best practices apply in both situations. Here are seven things you can do to make sure your alt text is on point for every image. 

Describe the image

Users without the ability to view photos can nevertheless get an idea of what they’re missing out on, thanks to descriptive alt text. Images that serve only as decorations (or serve no functional role) belong in the CSS file, not the HTML file.

Be concise

Alt text should be kept to 125 characters maximum. Common screen readers were formerly designed to stop reading alt text after about 125 characters. Although this is no longer an absolute rule, it does serve as a helpful guide for writers and search engine optimizers.

Include your keywords

Alt text of an image gives you even another chance to incorporate your target keyword on the page and, therefore, another chance to tell search engines that the page is extremely relevant for a certain search query. While explaining and providing context for the image should be your top concern, you should also put your relevant keywords in the alt text of at least one image on the page.

But don’t overuse keywords

If you utilize alt text as an opportunity to jam in as many relevant keywords as possible, Google will penalize you. Don’t worry about meta tags or anything else. Just focus on writing alt text that accurately describes the image and, ideally, incorporates a keyword you want to rank for.

Follow standard procedures for complex photos

Use accessibility standards for describing complicated imagery like maps, charts, graphs, etc. Screen reader users can still access the longdesc=”” attribute even though browsers process it in various ways.

Don’t forget about buttons

The alt property must be set if the “submit” button for a web form is an image. A button’s alt property should explain what the button does, such as “search,” “apply now,” “sign up,” etc.

Final word on image optimization with alt text 

It’s best to always use alt text to describe what an image depicts. The practice is better all-around for your website and its users.  

One thing to watch out for is using images with text in them. Search engines can’t comprehend the text contained in your photos, so don’t try to utilize them in place of words on the screen and in the tags. 

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