Before I go any further let me just announce that I am definitely no expert on the subject of Alt text (or Alt tags) but I have learned with the help of my younger brother (shout out coming up…)! He is European head of e-commerce for a rather large, well-known global company and has a Master’s degree in marketing science so of course, I turned to him to clarify things for me!
When you first start out there are so many little niggles with blogging and I get frustrated when I see wording or jargon that I don’t understand. It’s not really acceptable to just ignore It hoping it will go away as often we don’t realise the importance of such things and how they can affect SEO. That’s what I was doing until recently, okay I was editing the meta description with the snippet editor if I felt it necessary as that was pretty much self-explanatory.
Of course, there is Google, but often there are so many answers out there our mind just boggles! If you’re like me hopefully this will answer your questions. My blog is self-hosted over on WordPress.org, I imagine WordPress.com has the same process of adding Alt text, I can’t remember off-hand. Pretty sure it does.
Are you sitting comfortably!? Ok, let’s talk about Alt test, what on earth is it, and why you should be using it. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible so it’s easier to understand. Many may not realise it but adding alt text is actually mandatory for images on the web, however, it is generally ignored or overlooked. Possibly due to a lack of understanding or because we may not think we need to do it, or that it won’t make any real difference. Simply put, the Alt attribute is the text that displays to describe the who’s in the image container (the empty box where the image should be) when the image doesn’t load, or, essentially, a visually impaired user – (using a screen reader) will have the image description read out loud to them. This making your site far more accessible and your blog post more enjoyable for those with visual impairment.
Also, a point to mention is that unless you’re using a screen reader you wouldn’t generally see alt tags (unless an image fails to load) however, search engines do, and they index your images based on the alt tags. So it’s doubly important to add them.
Here’s how you add your alt text. Once you’ve added a photo/s you will notice some boxes under the attachment Details. See the photo below:
How do I use It?
You should write something descriptive about your photo, It doesn’t have to be elaborate, if your photo is for example, Dior Rosy Glow blusher, in the Alt text box you could simply write ‘Dior Rosy Glow blusher compact in Petal Pink’ The idea is that Google will then know what the image is and can include it in image searches/indexing. Conversely, if you’re image is purely for decorative purposes only, pretty much like mine in this post then you will still want to add an alt tag but in this case you would write alt=”” this gives a null attribute and the screen reader will then know to ignore the image as it has no real relevance to the written content.
Amazingly, This is something I wasn’t doing until a few months back, I’ve had to go through all my images and add the alt tags retrospectively which has been a little tedious. If you need to do the same then simply edit your post, click on the image to bring up the edit toolbar, then click the pen icon, next, add your chosen alt tag in the box and save.
The image “Title” is used by WordPress to organise the image files and will already have a tag. i.e IMG-0008 like mine here. I generally don’t re-name the title but you may want to if it helps you locate an image when searching for a specific image file.
Have you been using alt tags? Hope you can take something from this going forward, and hopefully improve how your site is indexed in future.