I’ve seen a lot of questions lately regarding what exactly alt text is, when to use it, what to say, and why it’s important. Let’s start with what it is.
When you’re writing a blog post and upload and image you’ll see a place to input “alternative text”. This is a place to label your image and provide a brief description. For WordPress users, when you click to edit an image, this box should pop up. You’ll see that under the Caption box, you can add your Alt text.
For the blogging community, there are three main reasons why you need to pay attention to this section:
1) It’s good for SEO. Search engines can’t simply read an image, so by providing a brief description and putting your keywords into this tag, search engines can better understand the image. Search engines can try to read an image, but this process can be inaccurate and it won’t be as descriptive as your wording would be.
For example, a search engine might label a photo as “two people smiling”, whereas if you were to write the label you might state, “Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles smiling before the competition.”
2) Similarly, screen readers can’t read an image. This means that anyone who is using a screen reader (such as individuals who are blind) use the alt text to understand what the image is showing. Keep in mind, that there are many more considerations to making your website accessible for all of your users.
3) If you have a “pin-it” button on an image, Pinterest will grab the alt text when someone clicks over to Pin the image. Therefore, you will want an informative, but succinct description.
Labeling your photos with alt text helps your website be accessible, searchable, and easier to understand.