Your website is the digital face of your brand. It’s how people find you, learn about you, and decide whether or not to do business with you. That said, there is a wide range of internet users that every business must be aware of and cater to. This includes those who are visually impaired. Visually impaired people typically use screen readers when surfing the web. Screen readers scan web pages and then render the content as either speech or braille. For those who use speech to surf the web, every piece of content on the page must be legible. That’s where ALT text comes in! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all digital media be accessible to those with disabilities. ALT text helps make websites ADA compliant by ensuring that pages are completely readable, and therefore accessible to visually impaired users.

What is ALT text?

ALT text, or alternative text, is the copy that goes along with an image. ALT text is what speech readers use to explain what an image looks like. Similarly, when a photo doesn’t load, it explains what the user is missing. Google and other search engines also use ALT text to assess the quality of a web page. Your ALT text should describe the image and be relevant to the content of the page. In addition to being ADA compliant, ALT text helps with SEO. When Google crawls a site to determine its relevance to a search query, ALT text is included in the information Google analyzes to determine quality. Without ALT text, your website may be losing out on potential rankings and clicks if Google can’t scan an image.

How do I properly use ALT text?

Entering these into your CMS (Content Management System) will effectively describe any images with technical difficulties. It will also make it easier for search engines to crawl and rank your website based on the keywords entered. While you should not go overboard with keywords, using them for relevant images can increase the effectiveness of your SEO. Remember, your ALT text is also used by speech readers for the visually impaired, so make sure the description is around 125 words and effectively describes the image. Try not just to list words. Create a description that explains the content of the photo. Let’s say you are a dog walking service in Manhattan posting a blog about pet safety. If your image is a picture of a dog walking in Central Park, NYC, say exactly that: alt=”Small black dog walking in Central Park NYC.” This ALT tag works because it is simple but descriptive. It isn’t vague, like “dog walking in a park” would be, but it also doesn’t abuse keywords. It simply describes the photograph in a way that any visually impaired person, or any search engine, can easily understand. Don’t overstuff it with keywords like “dog walker,” “NYC walking service,” or any other terms that may relate to your overall purpose but are not relevant to the photo in question. Overdoing it with keywords will make Google think your website is spam and won’t paint a clear picture to those using a speech reader.

What if I’m New to This and Don’t Know Where to Start?

ALT tags can be tricky. To optimize your text, the ALT tag needs to be descriptive enough to pinpoint the purpose of the image but written carefully to avoid overwhelming search engines with terms that will set off a spam detector. Like hashtags, a little bit goes a long way – especially when done right – so the content doesn’t look desperate but gets to the correct pages on the web. We know this sounds a bit intense, but at Digital Bombers, we know how to optimize your ALT text with everything it needs. We know all the rules and have the expertise to take this project off your hands. Contact us to see how we can help you be the most digitally savvy business in your industry.
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