Alt tags are used by search engines to determine which images should appear in search results.
But that’s not all they do.
Alt tags (or sometimes called alternative text) are also useful for people who use screen readers (like JAWS) to read web pages. In other words, alt text is great for accessibility — so the most amount of visitors can use the site similarly.
What are Alt Tags?
An alt tag is an HTML attribute that tells search engine spiders what an image is.
Here’s an example of an alt tag:
The alt tag should contain text that describes the image. Search engines will use this text to help them decide whether to show the image in search results.
As you can imagine, it’s easy to take advantage of alt text by stuffing keywords. One word of advice: don’t.
It won’t benefit you to stuff your keywords when they don’t apply. So keep your alt text short, simple, and to the point. It should describe the image first and include keywords, when applicable.
Why Should I Care About Alt Tags?
As we mentioned, alt text is instrumental for seeing impaired users who utilize screen readers.
When the screen reader hits the image, it reads it aloud. (Imagine if a visitor hears “image-892374;” they’ll have no idea what your image is!)
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
If you’ve ever tried to find something online, chances are you’ve seen images with alt tags. Why? Well optimized images will rank well for searches.
When a query matches the search, there’s a potential to show up in image search. That means using alt tags not only improves accessibility, it also improves SEO. (As a side note, great accessibility is amazing for SEO.)
Depending on your Google search, you might see images right at the top, at the bottom, or simply on the Image search page.
How Do I Add Alt Tags To My Images?
There’s good news: adding alt tags to your images isn’t difficult. All you need to do is add some text to each image you upload to your website or blog.
▷ Use descriptive words, such as “dog” or “cat,” instead of generic terms like “animal.”
▷ Use a descriptive, short phrase, not a sentence
▷ Go the extra mile by using a matching file name
Depending on the system you use for your blog or website, you’ll likely be able to apply alt text when you upload your photo. Simply look for a field that says “alt tag” or “alt text.”
In WordPress, that field is conveniently located right where you make your uploads.
How Can I Tell Which Image Has An Alt Tag?
To see whether an image has an alt tag, simply hover over the image with your mouse pointer. If there’s any text underneath the image, then it has an alt tag.
You can also, of course, check the page in the backend of your website or blog.
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