In today’s digital world, writing alternative text (alt text) for images has become a crucial task for website owners and content creators. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to write effective alt text for images in 2023, covering the importance, basics, techniques, examples, tools, best practices, and SEO benefits.
Why Alternative Text Matters
Alt text plays a vital role in enhancing the overall user experience for people with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to access online content. It also helps search engines better understand the content of your images, which can improve your website’s search engine ranking.
Principles of Good Alt Text
An effective alt text should accurately describe the content of the image, providing sufficient details for users who cannot see the image.
Keep your alt text short and to the point. Generally, it is recommended to limit alt text to around 125 characters.
Ensure that the alt text is relevant to the context of the surrounding content, providing value and information to the reader.
Do not repeat information already provided in the surrounding content. The alt text should offer unique and helpful information about the image.
Writing Effective Alt Text
Use Clear Language
Write your alt text in clear and simple language that is easy for both screen reader users and search engines to understand.
Use Proper Keywords
Include relevant keywords in your alt text to improve SEO, but make sure they are related to the image and not just added for the sake of keyword optimization.
If the image serves a specific function (e.g., a button or a link), include that information in the alt text.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Do not overuse keywords in your alt text, as this can lead to a negative user experience and search engine penalties.
Effective Alt Text Examples
- A photo of a dog playing in the park: “A happy golden retriever playing fetch in a sunny park.”
- An infographic about the benefits of exercise: “Infographic showing the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise.”
- A logo for a company called “Tech Solutions”: “Tech Solutions company logo.”
Tools for Writing Alt Text
There are several tools available to help you write effective alt text, such as:
- WAVE Web
- Accessibility Evaluation Tool: This browser extension helps you evaluate the accessibility of your website, including alt text for images.
- Alt Text Tester: This online tool allows you to test and preview your alt text to ensure it’s appropriate and effective.
- Siteimprove: A comprehensive web accessibility platform that includes alt text recommendations and checks.
- Best Practices
- Describe the main subject of the image in the alt text.
- Avoid using phrases like “image of” or “picture of” in the alt text.
- Use proper punctuation and sentence structure in the alt text.
- Do not use special characters or HTML tags in the alt text.
- If an image is purely decorative and provides no additional information, use an empty alt attribute (e.g.,
- SEO Benefits
- Importance of SEO
- Good alt text not only improves accessibility for users with visual impairments but also offers SEO benefits. Search engines like Google use alt text to understand the content of images, which can help your website rank higher in search results. By providing accurate and relevant alt text, you can increase your website’s visibility and attract more organic traffic.
- Writing effective alt text for images is essential for ensuring accessibility, enhancing user experience, and improving SEO. By following the principles, techniques, and best practices outlined in this article, you can create alt text that accurately describes your images, provides contextual relevance, and helps your website rank higher in search engine results.
- What is the main purpose of alt text? The main purpose of alt text is to provide a textual description of images for users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers and to help search engines understand the content of images for SEO purposes.
- How long should alt text be? It’s recommended to keep alt text concise and limit it to around 125 characters.
- Do all images need alt text? Yes, all images should have alt text. If an image is purely decorative and does not provide any additional information, use an empty alt attribute (e.g.,
- Can I use special characters or HTML tags in alt text? No, avoid using special characters or HTML tags in alt text, as they can cause issues for screen readers and search engines.
- How does alt text impact SEO? Search engines like Google use alt text to understand the content of images, which can help your website rank higher in search results. Providing accurate and relevant alt text can improve your website’s visibility and attract more organic traffic.
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