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What is an Image Alt Text?

Image alternative text (ALT Text) tags are used to describe the appearance and function of an image file. This is an important feature of all HTML pages, which plays many roles for search engines and users.

Unlike image captions, which are visible to all users, alternative text tags are generally invisible. However, they are used to communicate the nature of your images to users with visual disabilities, as well as to search engines.

Why use image alternative text?

ALT text tags are an essential part of web design and digital marketing. They improve the user experience and accessibility of pages. The alternative text elements used effectively can boost SEO and improve site ranking in search results.

It is much easier to write relevant tags when you understand how they work. Here is a summary of their roles and functioning.

1. User Experience (UX)

Alternative text replaces images if they do not load on a user’s screen. They act as a kind of insurance policy. The text then informs users of what the image was supposed to represent, improving their experience.

Users with a slow internet connection may need to load a page in HTML format. Adding alternative text allows you to replace an image relevant to your content.

In addition, users with very limited bandwidth may not see the images load properly. Instead, they see a broken link icon indicating a missing image. If alternative text is attached to the file, it will display. It can then improve the UX rather than leaving users in the shadows.

2. Accessibility

The replacement text improves digital accessibility for visually impaired users. The text allows them to use a screen reader to describe the image and understand the context of the page.

The alternative text also helps people with visual or sensory learning disabilities. It helps to reduce exposure or too visually stimulating elements. In addition, integrating images with a valid image file name can help get search results like Google Images.

3. Image SEO

Another role that alternative text plays is to work with Google search result codes in order to accurately index media files on a page. Using targeted keywords in an image’s SEO tags improves its referencing.

Search engine robots can detect the visual content of an image by reading the ALT tag and then displaying a page on search engine results.

A search engine feature is an image package where images are presented horizontally on the first page of results above the image links. In this way, search engines classify the site’s relevance to keywords.

Optimizing image ALT text increases the likelihood that a site will appear in the image package when associated words are searched. Therefore, investing in adding alt text to images is useful for SEO rankings on the results page. The better the images, the better the SEO ranking.

Recommanded practices for alternative text images

Here are some tips to make the best use of image alternative text tags:

Use descriptive terms that are relevant, avoiding keyword stuffing (otherwise the text becomes confusing).
Be as descriptive and accurate as possible, while remaining brief and concise.
Add some targeted keywords to your tags, but be sure to respect the 125 character limit.
Only add relevant keywords to the page content. Not all images require alternative text. For example, adding a tag to a brand logo does not always enrich the content of the page.
Avoid repetition if the images also have a caption or context in the surrounding text. Always make sure your tags are different from your captions.
SEO image referencing requires accurate spelling to deliver good results. Spelling errors can also be problematic for screen reading software.
Also add alternative text to the buttons on your pages (for example Submit, Save or Search).

Updated on: 02/05/2023

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