Alternate text or Alt text defines the context and content of an image available on a webpage.
Adding alternate texts to images is necessary for compliance with web content accessibility guidelines. It also boosts search engine optimization.
Effective alt text enhances search result rankings and offers an improved user experience overall.
In this blog, we will discuss about alt text, its significance and benefits in making images accessible to all.
What is Alt text?
Alt text or Alternate text is a piece of code embedded in digital content such as PDF or web page. It helps to define the image or graphics available on the website. We all might see it pop up when we hover over an image or when an image is missing. It is crucial for people with disabilities because it conveys the context of an image.
PDFs generally incorporate an image that conveys crucial information to the reader. In case, if the reader does not view the image, the author needs to describe it accurately to people with disabilities. The process of writing the Alt text is an art itself and an image can be described in many ways.
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What Is the Alt Text Attribute Used For?
As we have discussed earlier, the purpose of alt text attributes is twofold. They are a significant tool that helps to optimize web content like image search engine optimization and helps in promoting the level of website content accessibility. However, another primary purpose of using high-quality Alt text is for improving the overall user experience and creating digital content accessible to everyone.
Here are some recommendations to incorporate alt text into images:
- Offer relevant image content: The visual content needs to be relevant and particular to the topic of the page. It adds to the overall user experience. Alt text is helps to provide the relevant image content so that it becomes accessible to all, particularly for those with disabilities.
- Image placement is key – It is very significant to optimize the placement and position of the images. It needs to be placed close to the relevant text with the most significant image at the top.
- Make sure not to embed the text attributes inside the images: The important text needs not to be embedded inside the images, particularly the text elements like the heading. Alt text is specifically designed for meeting such purpose and therefore needs to be used to provide clear content and context of the content to the user, especially for those with disabilities.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization helps the company to enhance its website by improving its visibility with the search engines.
Improved visibility refers to better search results which indicate an improved and greater potential for the business customer overall. It is done by using specific and relevant keywords, anchor texts, multimedia, and Alt text attribute.
As we have discussed that primary purpose of the Alt text attribute is to enhance the image search ranking like ranking of the Google images. The improved Alt text attributes and context surrounding the image will help to deliver greater quality traffic to the website. It can also be demonstrated that Google actually offers the information on best and most effective image SEO practices.
Another purpose of alt text is web content accessibility, particularly image accessibility. In reality, alt text is helps to be compliant with accessibility standards in order to avoid any sort of legal issues or concerns.
Why Is Alt Text Important for Accessibility?
The term” Accessibility “is a need for the place of public accommodation according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidelines and standards for web content and design accessibility were introduced by the World Wide Consortium and are outlined in the WCAG 2.1 version.
It makes certain equal access is available for people with disabilities to access web content without any hassle. This provides an inclusive experience, especially for people with visual impairments.
The two components demonstrate content needs to be perceivable and distinguishable that is applicable to all images available on the Internet.
Alt text attributes are also helpful to offer information for images that cannot be viewed by those with visual impairment.
Additionally, alt text facilitates the screen reader user the ability to understand and appreciate the content available on the website without being able to view the image available. Some of the significant reason which makes Alt text significant for digital content and websites are listed below:
1. Alt text improves digital accessibility
The major benefit of incorporating accurate alt text means it creates accessible digital content. However, the availability of alt text alone in the HTML code doesn’t make the image accessible. But it is certainly more appropriate than having no alt text at all.
2. Alt text helps improve SEO
Images with alt text seem to rank better in organic search. Better or more effective search rankings will help to attract significant traffic from search engines such as Bing or Google.
3. Alt text improves the overall user experience
Adding alt text to images helps improve user experience for all visitors to a site.
What Should Alt Text Attributes Contain?
Making an accurate alternate text attribute is not a complicated task. However, it does require some practice. You need to make sure that all informative images have an alt text attribute. This applies to hyperlinks, logos, buttons, and much more (basically anything that needs context).
There is a need to remain focused on keeping the attribute short and succinct while employing the relevant or particular keywords. It must typically be 80 characters or less. Avoid long descriptions as it makes it complex for people with disabilities to understand the content appropriately.
Alt texts must include long tail keywords whenever possible. Long-tail keywords are longer and employ particular keyword phrases that users probably type in search queries.
However, these are used due to the fact that they are simpler to rank and targeted toward a particular audience. The downside is probably less traffic; however, the point is to pull in quality site traffic.
The user needs to make certain that the Alt text needs to be specific. The user would be able to incorporate loads of detail about the image however still miss the point. If anything, Alt text needs particular details to make content accessible to all.
When the user narrows down on the specifics of the images, search engines are likely to rank them higher in the query index. It can be better understood with an example if your image is of a volleyball player scoring the touchdown; it needs more than generally “a volleyball player scoring the touchdown.
It is very important to incorporate a clear context to make digital content accessible to all. It can be said that context is everything when it comes to Alt text attributes. Therefore, context is known to be the fundamental aspect of making the content content accessible, allowing companies to achieve digital accessibility.
How Can We Add Alt Text Attributes to Images and Links?
The procedure or methodology of incorporating the Alt text completely depends on the platforms which are been used. Some of the well-known and popular content management systems like WordPress facilitate their use to embed Alt text into the CSS or HTML as they create a page or even a blog. Some of them facilitate the user to easily click on the image available in the body of the blog to optimize the links or images.
Read our detailed whitepaper on ‘How to make images accessible?’
Alternative text delivers twofold purposes. The major purpose to include Alt text is to enhance the complete SEO of the images and content available on the website and also comply with the website content accessibility guidelines or standards.
Additionally, the best practice to include alt text helps to enhance the bottom line, from search engine ranking to boosting site traffic.
More significantly incorporating alt text ensures an inclusive experience for all users.