All bloggers know the importance of including decorative images in their posts and other content. Images create an appealing aesthetic, visually showcase whatever you’re talking about, help break up your content, and give you an additional content management system to distribute and share across other platforms.
However, images also add SEO value. And when you’re adding images to your site, there is an SEO-friendly and not-so-SEO-friendly way to do so. Alt text is important and just one of the things to consider when adding images to your site for SEO and overall value. There are tons of other factors related to best image practices for SEO. However, today we are specifically talking about alt text. Also known as alt tags.
Let’s start with how many images you should have on your website. Well if we’re speaking generally, studies show bloggers should aim for 1 image per 350 words. Yes, that’s what the highest-ranking blogs out there are doing. So a good rule of thumb is at least 4-6 images on your blog posts depending on how long they are. Since most high-value content is over 1,000 words long, starting with a goal of four images is a great mentality to have. Images throughout the post create a better user experience while upscaling the aesthetic of your website. Having too many images on your site can actually harm your site’s performance and user experience. So don’t go overboard either.
Now on to alt text. Every single image on your website, including blog post images, needs alt text. So in this post, we’re going to discuss what alt text is, why it’s important for SEO, how to add alt text to your blog posts, and share a few tips for writing great alt text.
What Is Alt Text?
Alt text (also referred to as alternative text, img src, or alt attributes) is meant to convey the content of complex images using words. Alternative text is a straightforward written description of what is in the image. The original intent of alt text is to help the visually impaired gain context regarding what your image is and how it adds value to a blog post, thus increasing web accessibility. It should provide the content and context of the image, making sure it’s specific enough for visually impaired readers to understand what they are looking at. Including alt text in your images is one way to make sure your site is ADA-compliant. Your web pages should be inclusive to all readers and provide the best user experience.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s easy to make mistakes when writing image alt text. And alt attributes can be just as important as the pictures themselves. So today’s post will teach you everything you need to know about writing alternative text!
Why is Alternative Text on images important?
We already mentioned ADA compliance above. Making sure your site is inclusive and accessible for the visually impaired is definitely important. The second key use of alternative text is the role it plays in search engine optimization. Image alt attributes provide search engines with an alt description and semantic content of a specific image file. Search engines can more easily process written text to understand what an image is about, than the image file itself. This information is used by search engines to rank not only your blog posts on search engines but also your individual images in image search results. So good alt text gives search engines more data to properly rank your website, improving your SEO in the process!
When is Alternative Text displayed?
This can happen in different situations. The key instance is when people visually impaired are consuming your content. Second, the alt text is displayed in the HTML version of your content. In other words, the coding version of your website that search engines read.
Another instance of image alt attributes that can be displayed is when someone is using a screen reader or if browsers are unable to properly render a page. If your images don’t load due to poor internet speed or similar issues, the alt text may display instead of your image. Whatever the cause, you need to include image alt text!
InfluencerSEO handles adding alt text to all images for all clients in both the Strategize & Optimize SEO packages.
How To Write Good Alt Text
Get specific and to the point with your wording.
Don’t try to embellish alternative text like you would with a blog post. Its entire point is just to provide the context of the image. So you need to be specific and get to the point right away. But don’t overthink it! Think about how you would describe the image to someone over the phone. Make it descriptive, clear, and concise. Just write what you see!
Skip the whole “image of” introduction.
As tempting as it can be to say “an image of a cup of tea” instead of “a cup of tea” because it makes sense to you as the writer, it’s not necessary. The alternative text needs to sound natural to whoever is reading or listening to it! It’s clear for both a person and machine when an image alt text pops up. No need to clarify that it’s a picture of something! What you can do instead is specify which type of image is. If it’s an infographic, illustration, portrait, etc.
Naturally include relevant keywords.
You don’t need to be aggressive about it, but if there is a natural and authentic way to work in keywords or relevant keywords, do it! We really want to emphasize that being authentic and natural is the most important thing. If it doesn’t feel authentic, don’t include it! This leads us to our next point!
Avoid keyword stuffing.
We all want to improve those SEO rankings. But keyword stuffing is not going to help your rank! Image alt text is meant to convey the description of the image, not be a keyword dumpster in an attempt to trick search engines. If one or two keywords fit naturally into the image alt attributes, then great! Go for it. Still, if it doesn’t flow, don’t include it in the description. It’ll only harm your efforts and go against SEO best practices.
Don’t be repetitive to the screen reader/user.
If the description of an image is already integrated into your other written content, make sure the descriptive alt text is different or showcases some other kind of value. So for example, let’s say you have an important point in a heading or subheading but there’s also an aesthetic image with that same point on it. A screen reader would repeat the point in the subheading and the alt text. So you don’t want them to be exactly the same and feel repetitive. It’s best to just avoid repetition as much as possible. However, you should still try to make sure the image is described. So maybe instead of just providing the same point in the alt text, you describe the image. So something like “the important point about X in cursive font and green letters” or something like that. Get creative with it!
Transcribe any text that appears on the image.
Instead of repeating yourself, you should transcribe any valuable text that shows up on an image. This is especially important for Infographics or images featuring listed content. To prevent your visually impaired readers from missing out on key pieces of information, transcribe it to the image alt attributes!
How Long Should Alt Text Be
As mentioned before, alternative text should be as straightforward and specific as possible. So don’t write an entire paragraph for the content of the image you’re trying to describe! Our recommendation is to write good alt text that’s between 80 and 125 characters. Most screen readers, like JAWS, tend to cut off image alt attributes at 125 characters. And many functional accessibility evaluators suggest capping your alternative text at 100 characters for a better user experience. So keep it short and useful!
How Do I Add Alt Text To An Image?
WordPress – Gutenberg:
- Open the post or page to edit its content.
- Select the Image you want to add alt text to in the post. The image settings will appear on the right-hand menu. If they don’t appear, make sure you’ve selected “Block” at the top of the right-hand menu.
- Add the alternative text on the right-hand side under “Alt Text ( Alternative Text ) in the image settings section.
- Click on the Advanced Settings of your post.
- Select Write Alt Text from the Accessibility section.
- Add your alternative text and tap Save.
- If your Image is already published, simply click the three dots to edit, then click “Edit,” then on the bottom right-hand corner of the edit page click “Edit Alt Text”
- Access the Image Block on your Squarespace editor.
- Select the Content tab and edit the Filename section.
- Write your alt text by clicking Apply.
- Click “Create Pin” to add a Pin to Pinterest
- You’ll see options for the Pin Title, Description, Board, URL, and alt text!
- Add your Alt Text and all other information, then publish the pin.
Are you writing quality alt text for your images?
That’s all on alt text for now! I hope this post helped you understand what alternative text is and how to use it properly. Now you can make sure your site is friendly for all individuals who are visually impaired to make sure they are able to enjoy your content. Plus, you’ll give search engines a better idea related to how your images are adding value to your post, benefiting your SEO rankings. Feel free to leave a question in the comments below if you have any issues or doubts. We’re happy to help! And if you’d prefer to have all of this fully taken off your plate, definitely check out our services page.