Alt Text For Images | What Is It? And Why You Should Be Using It.

alt tags for images

 

When it comes to blogging, I get frustrated when I see wording or jargon that I don’t understand.

It’s not really acceptable to bury your head in the sand hoping it will go away. Often, we don’t realise the importance of the little things we don’t understand and how they can affect our SEO (search engine optimisation).

Of course, we can always search Google for the answer to our question, but often, our mind just boggles with all the incoming information.

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, but pretty sure it does.

Alt text, or tags, what on earth are they, and why we should be using them.

Many may not realise it, but adding alt tags 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 don’t realise its importance. Simply put, the alt tag is the text that displays in the image container (when an image doesn’t load) and lets the reader know what the image is. Moreover, a blind, or visually impaired user – (using a screen reader) will have the image description read out loud to them. Thus making your site far more accessible to all and your blog post more enjoyable for those with a visual impairment.

Also, a point to mention – alt tags aren’t visible unless an image fails to load. However, since Google can’t “see” images It’s important that the image can be “read” and by this I mean the alt tag will tell Google what it is and its relevance to the written copy. Your images will be indexed based on information taken from the alt tag.

Here’s how you add your alt text: Once you’ve added your image/s you will notice some boxes under the attachment details. See my screen grab below:

 

alt text for images. Image shows where to add your tag

 

What Should I write?

You should write something descriptive about your photo, It doesn’t need to be elaborate but remember to include your focus keywords/s. What I’ve started doing is literally writing my blog post title as an alt tag, this way I get all the relevant keywords in. You can then go ahead and add a little about the image so it’s clear to those using a Screen Reader what the image depicts. Google recommends you keep your alt tags to a maximum of 125 characters.

Remember if your images are missing the alt tags they’ve no chance of showing up in an “image search” Think about how often you perform a Google search and immediately click to the “images” tab? I do this frequently, so imagine how you could be missing out there.

What about decorative images? Do they still need an alt tag?

In this case, you would write alt=”” this gives a null attribute and the screen reader will know to ignore the image because it has no real relevance to the written content. You can of course just write “decorative image” if you prefer, just as long as there is a tag.

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, finally, add your chosen alt tag in the box and save.

Image Title

The image “Title” is used by WordPress to organise the image files and will already be given a tag. For example IMG-0008. The image title will only show when a user hovers their mouse over the image.and will not be otherwise visible. My preference is to add a title using keywords separated by hyphens, making use of every opportunity to optimise my imagery. It also makes it easier to locate an image in your library – you just need to remember what you called it!

Have you been using alt tags? I Hope you can take something from this going forward, and hopefully, improve how your site is indexed in future.

Further reading – My blog maintenance checklist.

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11 Comments

  1. March 14, 2017 / 7:23 am

    Thanks! I had no idea what this was. I was changing the Title instead. What is/where do I find the snippet? H x

    • Samantha
      Author
      March 14, 2017 / 8:13 am

      Hi Hayley, thanks for reading! It’s easy to ignore things when we don’t understand, I was doing the same until recently! For the snippet if you scroll down to the bottom of the page where you add a new post you’ll see the snippet editor there. There’s a preview but also an edit snippet button with a pen icon. Click that, go to the meta description box, alter or re-write your snippet there then ‘close’ the snippet editor. Update or save and you’re done! Try googling your blog site and see what your current snippets say on the links ?hope this helps! x

  2. March 14, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Very informative post! I just became self hosted, and omg, navigating through all this is like learning a different language. I’m slowly learning though. 🙂

    • Samantha
      Author
      March 14, 2017 / 5:51 pm

      I know, it’s a huge learning curve, We are slowly becoming experts!! So much to learn. Thanks for reading! ?

  3. July 16, 2017 / 7:45 am

    This is such a fab post, I have been ignoring this ever since I started blogging but I need to start doing this every time! Thank you Samantha x

    • Samantha
      Author
      July 16, 2017 / 9:35 am

      It’s just something we don’t think of but google does!! I’ve still got a few things o need to sort out to improve mine! I’ve had to message Pipdig about my blog post titles not counting as H1 headers which is affecting my score. The MOZ tool is good if you google MOZ DA checker there are other search options on the left where you can run other searches. The SEO check is free. Glad you found it useful! Xx

      • July 17, 2017 / 6:37 am

        Thank you samantha!! You’re always so helpful! X

  4. July 23, 2017 / 10:18 am

    Oh wow, I’ve got a big job in my hands now! Thank you so much for explaining this so clearly, I’m definitely going to go through all of my blog photos to add that in now. I vaguely knew what it was before but I didn’t know how important it was so thanks again for sharing this!

    • Samantha
      Author
      July 23, 2017 / 10:27 am

      Ah thanks lovely! So pleased you found this useful. As I mentioned it’s one of those things we just don’t think of adding. Have you tried running an SEO check on your site? If not, google MOZ checker. I use it regularly to see my DA score and fix broken links etc. Every little helps!
      Thanks again ??

  5. July 24, 2017 / 11:09 am

    Ooh must look in to this now!! I add tags to some pics but not all and didn’t know this was the reason to!! Great post xxx

    • Samantha
      Author
      July 24, 2017 / 12:11 pm

      Yes add them! I still have a few without tags but I’m working my through them all. Glad you found it useful!
      Xx

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