What is Alt text? Alt Text for Images Best Practices

What is Alt text? Alt Text for Images Best Practices

Image Alt text is the short form of alternate text. It is also known as “alt attribute”, “alt description” or “alt tag”. They are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on the web-page. In short, it provides textual content for the images on any web-page. To know all the best practices of alt text images keep reading this article till the end.

It’s a text description of an image that can be added to the image’s HTML tag on the web-page. One of the most common practice online is to disable images in e-mails from loading automatically. In such a case, by using a descriptive alt text, you’ll be able to understand the content of the email without having to load the full image.

When choosing Alt text, it’s important to make sure that it tells users as much as possible about the image using a few words as possible. This fact becomes more important as the images get physically smaller. When the alt text is too long it would take up too much space to fit inside the image rectangle which is the same size as the image.

So, the question now comes to our mind is what is the best alt text format?

The format for alt text should be sufficiently descriptive avoiding the spam. Suppose if you had to close your eyes and have someone read the alt text to you if you imagine a reasonably accurate version of the image, Bingo! You are on the right track.

To get a clearer picture, take a look at this example:

Here’s a stack of delicious cookies.

Delicious cookies example for alt text

1) <img src=”cookies.png” alt=”cookies”>

This Alt text is okay but it is doesn’t exactly describe in detail as there’s more to be said.

2) <img src=”cookies.png”=”stack of chocolate chip cookies”>

This Alt text is good because it describes that the cookies are placed in a stack plus what kind of cookies they are i.e. chocolate chip cookies. It’s considered the good practice to keep the length of alt text to a minimum, at least 125 characters.

Benefits of Alt text

Helps the visually Impaired Users:

The visually impaired people browse computers & smartphones with the help of screen readers. The screen readers are not capable enough to understand the images so when you attach an image alt text to the image, the screen reader would read aloud the description which in turn would give a rough idea to them. Hence it’s always recommended to add alt text with your images so that the valuable content would be available to all groups of people.

 Helps the web crawlers:

If the search engines don’t know what an image is all about,    how will they relate it to the page content? Therefore, it makes use of the alt text to understand what an image is all about. Alt text provides better image descriptions to search engine crawlers to help them in indexing an image properly and optimizing your website for better search engine ranking.

Helps the Users:

There could be an end no of reasons why the image fails to load like slow connections, server issues, etc. Using an alt text you can tackle this problem. If an image fails to load, the Alt text will be displayed in place of an image and provide all the relevant information provided in the image. Thus the users can benefit from the same whenever they face any issue while loading an image.

Attributes of Alt text:

Here are the following things to keep in mind before adding an alt text to your image:

Make the Alt text more specific: An alt text is designed to provide text information for users who are not able to see them. What’s the use of alt text if it doesn’t properly convey the meaning of the image.

Keep it short& sweet: Generally, the screen readers read alt text up to 125 characters max, so it’s advisable to keep it relatively short but with worthy content.

Use the keywords: Alt text provides you with another opportunity to include your set of target keywords on a page, thus signaling the search engines to index your page faster and rank your page higher.

Avoid keyword stuffing: A poorly written alt text or overly stuffed alt text won’t be of any help in ranking your page. Focus on writing descriptive alt text which is in the correct context to the image.

Don’t use the image as text: search engines cannot read text within your images, so you should avoid using images in place of words and also evade using “image of”, “picture of” in your alt text as it’s already assumed your alt text is referred to an image.

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