- Nico Bistolfi
What is ALT text?
Alternative text, or ‘alt text’, ‘alt tags' and/or ‘alt descriptions', is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user's screen, **it is the written copy displayed in place of those images.** This text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website.
Alt text describes not only the content of the image, but also its context. ****It is actually part of the HTML code, but it is only the description of the image contained in the alt tag and not the whole attribute.
Why ALT text is important?
Adding alt text to images is one of the best practices used by SEO professionals to optimize images for the web. This is because if you’re creating any kind of content for the internet nowadays, it’s likely you’ll need visuals. And from a user’s perspective, embedded images on the page are much more pleasant than clicking on a hyperlink, and Google SERPs are catching up to that.
In fact, Google discussed the importance of alt tags as early as 2007, and established that they’re an integral part of Google’s image publishing guidelines. Want to know how to create a successfully optimized website with image optimization? Check this article on The Most Complete Guide for Image Optimization.
But, how do you make sure you’re using alt text correctly? Be descriptive, specific and consider the image's context. Using alt text to stuff keywords into fragmented sentences adds too much fluff to the image and not enough context, and although those keywords might be important to the publisher, they are not to Google. Whatsmore, you can follow the first rule of alt text (be descriptive) but if it's not being descriptive in the right way, it won’t be a successful one. You need to write the important specifics that Google would need to properly index the image.
And last but not least, what if you have a good description and are specific, but your image doesn't have an official context by which to describe it? This is where you'll need to use the topic of the article or webpage to which you're publishing the image, this is, use some keywords that could help Google associate the image with certain sections of the article.
Alt text is an important part of image SEO and user accessibility, users and search engines use your alt text to better understand the images on your page.
So, by keeping in mind those 3 important rules discussed before, you’ll be on your way to creating pages that are user friendly and easier to crawl.