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I have to admit that the alt tag in images is one of the most confusing things I’ve yet to learn about with blogging. I’ve heard and read so many things about them that it’s left me feeling a bit “GAH” about them with not really knowing what to do with them. Are you the same way?
Here’s what I have heard before I did any research.
- It’s a great place to put your blog address.
- It’s where you put what the name of your image is.
- It’s for blind people so they can tell what the image is.
- It’s where you put SEO labeling in for your images.
- It’s where you fully describe your image.
This is what my research told me: what an the “alt tag” is. This is an abbreviation for what is an alt attribute (so like an alternative way of describing your image) on an image for blind readers. Screen readers use this to tell blind people what the image is about. This makes your images more accessible.
Some of what I’ve heard is obviously not correct based on what an alt tag on images is defined then is it? It’s not a place to stick your blog address, nor it is where you put your SEO labeling. It is a place to describe your image, but to do it accurately in order to help the sight impaired.
Yoast describes it this way. Each image should have an alt text. Not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people otherwise won’t know what the image is for. A title attribute is not required. It can be useful but in most cases, leaving it out shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Let’s say you have posted an image of a product you are hoping to sell. In the Alt tag you would say something like “product x is available for $19”.
If you are adding a picture like this one, you would want to use a specific alt tag of chocolate tort Holland lop
You do this by clicking on the edit button of your image (at least in WordPress you do)
You need to do this with every image on your post, at least that’s what the recommendation is. I have to admit, I’m still learning the best way to do this, especially with images that I’m using just to “pretty up” my post. But mostly I try to make images work for me.
One thing you don’t want to do (according to Google) is shove a bunch of SEO words in there. It looks spammy and could quite well get your site listed as spam if that’s what you do. This means no putting in words like “rabbit bunny rabbits bunnies Holland lop Holland lops tort torts tortoise” That just doesn’t look good and google doesn’t like it because it creates a bad user experience. Help people like your photos and google says “YAY” more easily to your whole post.
Recently with a post I included this image, for the alt image tag I used this “Using Sound to write better”. I honestly don’t know if that was the best way to describe it for the sight impaired. I want them to know what my image is being used for. But it’s not truly describing what my image is, more what the image represents to me. As you can see I still find this process a bit confusing. 🙂
But from what I can tell, doing something is better than doing nothing and it’s better to have some words in there that accurately describe what the picture is, or what the picture is about, than to have nothing in there at all. Help google use your photos, so people can better find your posts. Makes sense that eh?
- only tag images that are yours originally (so not a question mark tag you can find anywhere)
- using the alt tag is part of optimizing your website
- describe your image before you add your company name
- limit to 145 characters due to limitations of sight readers.
- use SEO rich language in your alt tag and titles in your title attribute spot.
I hope this post helped you make better sense of the alt tag for images. In the end, use the alt tag to help people find your site regardless of their seeing abilities. Just make it easier, that’s what they are there for.
Raventools did a good job of explaining alt tags as well. Good luck with optimizing your images and site!