Alt text tags, short for alternate text, helps to make your site more accessible to users and the search engines, and forms part of onsite SEO. It is a simple piece of HTML code that describes the image and displays when an image hasn’t been displayed correctly, either because it is still loading, images are set not to display automatically (emails for example) or there is a problem causing it not to display.
While alt text tags are useful to users, they are an important element of search engine optimisation as they describe a semantic description of images for search engines. Image search is something that is often overlooked but it can help to reach your target audience. Alt texts are also a useful way of adding text to sites that are light on content. e-Commerce sites for example tend to be image rich and lack content making optimising the page difficult. Adding alternate texts is one of the ways around this.
How to Insert Alt Text Tags
Traditionally you would add alt=”” tag to the image link –
<img src=”http://www.example.com/example-image.jpg” alt=”Insert alternate text here” />
These days most people have a content management system which simplifies things. In WordPress for example, once you have added an image, you just insert a description into the ‘alt text’ field. It is good practise to fill in all of these fields when you insert an image.
Generally you would look to keep the description fairly short, typically a few words long and normally less than 15 but it will vary depending on what you are describing. Try to mention the topic of the page that image relates to. For example, I have put in the example above alt=”Alternate text example – Marketing Grin”. This is short but describes the image to the user. If you do this, you will naturally include the keyword in there too. When it comes to e-Commerce sites, be precise in your descriptions. Don’t just say ‘Men’s top’, say ‘Men’s navy t-shirt’ as this will be more effective in image searches. Try to avoid keyword stuffing as this adds nothing to the user and a pet hate of search engines and may cause you problems later down the line.
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