Setting image alt text is crucial for web accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO). Alt text, short for “alternative text,” is a descriptive text attribute added to an HTML image tag. It serves as a textual description of the image’s content for users who cannot see the image, such as visually impaired individuals using screen readers, and it also provides context for search engines to understand the image’s content. Here’s how to set image alt text:
HTML Image Tag:
When adding an image to your HTML code, use the alt attribute within the <img> tag to provide a concise and accurate description of the image. The alt text should convey the image’s purpose and content.
<img src=”image.jpg” alt=”A red bicycle parked near a rustic wooden fence”>
Guidelines for Writing Alt Text:
When writing alt text, follow these guidelines:
Be descriptive: Describe the image’s content, including relevant details.
Keep it concise: Aim for a brief description, around 125 characters or less.
Avoid redundant information: Don’t repeat nearby text or use phrases like “image of” or “picture of.”
Omit non-essential information: Focus on conveying the image’s core meaning.
Use proper punctuation: Alt text is punctuation-sensitive; use appropriate punctuation marks.
No keyword stuffing: While alt text is important for SEO, avoid keyword stuffing. Prioritize clarity and accessibility.
For purely decorative images that don’t convey content or meaning, you can use an empty alt attribute to indicate that the image is decorative.
<img src=”decorative.png” alt=””>
Screen Reader Testing:
To ensure that your alt text is effective, test it using screen reader software. Many web browsers have built-in screen reader functionality or developer tools that simulate screen reader behavior.
CMS and Content Creation Platforms:
If you’re using a content management system (CMS) or a website builder, there should be an option to add alt text when inserting images. Look for the alt text field in the image properties or settings.
While alt text is important for accessibility, it also plays a role in SEO. Provide meaningful alt text that accurately represents the image’s content, but avoid keyword stuffing or over-optimization.
Images with Text Content:
If an image contains important text content, include that text in the alt text to ensure it’s accessible to screen reader users.
Image Icons and Buttons:
For icons and buttons, use alt text that describes the function or action associated with the element.
<img src=”search-icon.png” alt=”Search icon: Click to search”>
By setting meaningful and accurate alt text for your images, you enhance both web accessibility and SEO, making your content more inclusive and discoverable by a wider audience.