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Alt Text

In your blog you use pictures, right? You can use images to increase your visibility on search engines. This has to do with their “alt-text.” Instead of analyzing images, search engines often read invisible descriptions of images. Alt-text has other uses as well when it comes to the accessibility of your blog, which helps everyone understand the contents of your images.

Alt-Text Meaning

Alt-text is short for “alternative text,” and it is an alternative for your image.

Alt-text is a simple, written description of an image hidden from the reader.

Alt-text helps with two things: search engines and accessibility.

Google can directly interpret images, as evidenced by its “Google lens” feature, but this is at the searcher’s request. In a simple search, Google and other search engines will utilize a mixture of things to find relevant images, and alt-text can help you appear more relevant.

Alt-text can help optimize your relevance within the search engine.

Additionally, alt-text can help people more easily access your blog, such as those who have a visual impairment.

Alt-Text and SEO

Alt-text is often helpful for SEO purposes.

Search engine optimization, also called SEO, is a methodology to rank higher within a search engine.

Alt-text is plain text that you write, and a search engine reads it. Unlike the rest of your blog, alt-text for an image is not something that your reader will be able to access or see. They will only see your image and its caption. To a reader, alt-text is invisible.

The length of your alt-text is important. Although you might think repeating keywords as many times as possible is a good idea, this is not the case. 10-20 words usually suffice.

It's also good to keep alt-text short for those using screen readers and other text-to-speech software. Although alt-text is not accessible to the average reader, it will be accessible to these people.

Alt-Text Accessibility

Alt-text is important for those who rely on listening to your blog with text-to-speech software, rather than reading its visual elements. This group of people includes those who are blind, have limited vision, or simply those who prefer listening. You want to be sure that your images are as accessible to these people as much as possible!

To make your alt-text accessible, here are some tips:

Use proper capitalization, spelling, and punctuation. This will help your alt-text to sound as natural as the rest of your blog.

Be descriptive (within reason). You want someone using text-to-speech to know what your image is and why you included it. This is why you should be descriptive. However, you don't want to emphasize the image by going into detail about it.

Unless that is the goal, of course. If the image in your blog is the focal point, then feel free to reach into the 50-100 word territory in order to be sure someone gets the idea. For example, if you are analyzing a piece of art or you are describing a big event you attended, you might want to focus on the key images.

Note any written words in the image. If your image contains any notable words, be sure to include those. This is true, especially for buttons and links.

Be sure that your buttons and links have alt-text! You want to be sure your blog has maximum accessibility.

Alt-Text Best Practices

When talking about “best practices” for alt-text, you are talking about “what’s best for search engine optimization” as well as "what's accessible to everyone." You can divide the information to include into three areas: the name of your post, a description of your image, and your name or brand.

The Name of Your Post

Begin your alt-text with the name of the particular blog or article. So, if you are writing a blog about “when to water your orchid,” that will do. Start your alt-text with, “When to water your orchid.”

You start with the name of your blog post because that helps a search engine further identify the content of your article. While you don’t want to repeat something too much, you do want to repeat critical pieces of content sometimes.

A Description of Your Image

The middle is where you write the bulk of your alt-text. In simple terms, the center of your alt-text should be a description of the image.

Think of alt-text as the caption of your image, except less focused on engagement and more focused on content. This is true even for the purpose of accessibility!

Whereas in a caption you might get your reader’s attention, ask them a question, or use informal language to engage them, the bulk of your alt-text should simply describe the image. Inside the brackets of the caption below is what you might write in the middle of your alt-text.

Alt-text, Description example with an orchid, StudySmarter[Healthy phalaenopsis orchid example]. Wikimedia Commons.

Straightforward, right? Try to keep it that way!

Your Name or Brand

When ending your alt-text, you want to include your brand, website, or name. This practice helps the search engine associate this content with you.

For instance, if your blog is called “The LovelyPlant Blog,” end it that way.

The following is a complete example of alt-text.

When to water your orchid, Healthy phalaenopsis orchid example, The LovelyPlant Blog

This example of alt-text is clear and concise and will help a search engine recognize your image immediately.

Alt-Text for Images

Depending on your platform, writing alt-text for images will look somewhat different. However, in many content creation platforms, alt-text is a click away.

Try clicking on the image you uploaded and seeing if “alt-text” is somewhere in the toolbar nearby or at the top of the page. If it isn’t, consult the help feature on your platform.

Alt-Text Examples

Congratulations! Now you know how to write alt-text. Here are some examples of alt-text for common blogs. Remember to use alt-text whenever possible to improve your blog's visibility and increase its accessibility.

Alt-Text for a Travel Blog

Here is an example of alt-text you might use if you travel to catalog the dead malls of America. The alt-text is featured in brackets.

Alt-text, An image of a dead mall, StudySmarter[Dead malls of Kentucky, Dead mall interior, The DeadMallDude]. Wikimedia Commons.

Alt-Text for a Wellness Blog

Here is an example of alt-text you might use if you write on mindfulness and meditation. The alt-text is featured in brackets.

Alt-text, An image of someone meditating, StudySmarter[The goal of meditation is the practice, Example of practicing meditation anywhere, The Meditated Mind]. Wikimedia Commons.

Alt-Text for a Creative Writing Blog

Here is an example of alt-text you might use if your blog is about creative writing. The alt-text is featured in brackets.

Alt-text, Example of a monster from Japan, StudySmarter[Monsters of the world, Yōkai example from Japan, MasteringTheMonster]. Wikimedia Commons.

Alt Text - Key Takeaways

  • Alt-text is a simple, written description of an image hidden from the reader.
  • Alt-text can help those who listen to your blog rather than read it, such as people who have a visual impairment.
  • Alt-text is a part of search engine optimization, a methodology to rank higher within a search engine.
  • 10-20 words usually suffice for alt-text.
  • Your alt-text should contain the name of your post, a description of your image, and your name or brand.

Frequently Asked Questions about Alt Text

Yes. Alt-text is important to those who rely on the audio of your blog and not its visual elements. This includes those who are blind, have limited vision, or simply those who prefer listening.

Alt-text should describe your image. It will also include the name of your blog post and your name or brand.

Alt-text can help optimize your relevance within a search engine. Additionally, alt-text can help people more easily access your blog, such as those who are visually impaired.

Alternative text. Alt-text is a simple, written description of an image hidden from the reader. Alt-text helps with two things: search engines and accessibility.

Alt-text should include the name of your post, a description of your image, and your name or brand.

Final Alt Text Quiz

Question

What is alt-text short for?

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Answer

Alternative text

Show question

Question

How does a search engine use alt-text?

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Answer

A search engine like Google uses alt-text as an alternative way to interpret an image. 

Show question

Question

What is alt-text?

Show answer

Answer

Alt-text is a simple, written description of an image hidden from the reader.

Show question

Question

Does alt-text influence a search engine on a simple (non-image) search?

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Answer

In a simple search, Google will utilize a mixture of things to find relevant images, and alt-text can help you appear more relevant to Google.

Show question

Question

Can your reader visually see your alt-text?

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Answer

No

Show question

Question

"Your reader can see your alt-text, not your image caption."

True or false?

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Answer

False. It's the other way around.

Show question

Question

What does SEO stand for?

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Answer

Search engine optimization.

Show question

Question

What is SEO?

Show answer

Answer

Search engine optimization, also called SEO, is a methodology to rank higher within a search engine.

Show question

Question

What are the three parts of a good alt-text?

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Answer

The name of your post, a description of your image, and your name or brand.

Show question

Question

How should you use capitalization and punctuation in your alt-text?

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Answer

Properly, in order to be accessible to text-to-speech readers.

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Question

"Don't worry about spelling in your alt-text."

True or false?

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Answer

False.

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Question

Think of alt-text as the caption of your image, except less focused on _____ and more focused on _____.

Show answer

Answer

Engagement, content

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Question

How does alt-text increase accessibility to your blog?

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Answer

Alt-text is important for those who rely on listening to your blog with text-to-speech software, rather than reading its visual elements. This group of people includes those who are blind, have limited vision, or simply those who prefer listening.

Show question

Question

How often should your images contain alt-text?

Show answer

Answer

Always.

Show question

Question

What is this example of alt-text missing?

[Dead malls of Kentucky. Dead mall interior.]

Show answer

Answer

The name or brand at the end.

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