09.04.2024 r. Insight Land

Alternate Text

What is Alternate Text?

Alternate text, commonly referred to as “alt text” or “alt attributes,” is a concise written description that provides a textual alternative to images on the web. It’s embedded within HTML code, specifically within the <img> tag, as an attribute (alt=”Description of the image”). Alt text serves the crucial function of describing the appearance and function of an image on a webpage, making the content accessible to users who rely on screen readers and assistive technologies, as well as in scenarios where images cannot be displayed due to slow internet connections, browser issues, or when images are turned off by the user.

Why is Alternate Text important?

The significance of alt text extends beyond accessibility, although that remains its primary purpose. From an inclusivity perspective, alt text ensures that visually impaired users can understand images, contributing to a more equitable internet. In terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), alt text improves website ranking by providing search engines with context for images, helping them to index an image properly and appear in search results. This not only enhances the user experience but also drives more organic traffic to websites. For businesses and content creators, well-crafted alt text can be a pivotal factor in reaching a wider audience and improving online visibility.

How does Alternate Text work?

When creating alt text, it’s essential to be descriptive and concise. The text should accurately describe the image’s content and function, including relevant keywords without stuffing. For example, instead of “image1.jpg,” a more descriptive alt text could be “A black Labrador retriever playing fetch in a sunny park.” This gives both users and search engines valuable information about the image. Search engines use this text to understand and rank content, while screen readers read it aloud to provide a verbal description of images to users who cannot see them.

Good to know about Alternate Text

It’s important to use alt text wisely. Not every image requires elaborate descriptions. Decorative images that don’t add information to the content can have empty alt attributes (alt=””) to avoid cluttering the user’s experience with unnecessary details. However, images that convey information, show charts, infographics, or contain text, require detailed alt text for full accessibility and SEO benefits. Misusing alt text, such as keyword stuffing or providing inaccurate descriptions, can negatively impact website accessibility and search engine rankings. A well-known example of effective alt text usage is e-commerce product pages, where detailed descriptions can significantly enhance accessibility and SEO, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction. Conversely, a lack of alt text or poor descriptions can result in a poor user experience and decreased website traffic, illustrating the importance of thoughtful alt text implementation.