What is Alt Text and Why You Need It

Picture of Jackie Barker - Website Designer Wilmington, NC
Jackie Barker - Website Designer Wilmington, NC

You may have heard of “alt text” before but not be entirely sure what it is or why you need to use it. This blog post will explain what alt text is, how to use it, and why it’s important for your website.

What Is Alt Text?

Alt text (short for alternative text) is a written description of an image that is used in HTML code. The purpose of alt text is to provide additional information about the image for search engines and people who are unable to see the image.

How To Use Alt Text

When adding images to your website, you will want to include the alt attribute. The value of the alt attribute should be a brief, accurate description of the image. It’s important not to keyword stuff your alt text as this will do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb is to keep your alt text under 125 characters.

Why Is Alt Text Important For Your Website?

1. Accessibility

As we mentioned before, one of the main purposes of alt text is to provide information about an image for people who are unable to see it. This includes people with visual impairments who are using screen readers as well as those with slow internet connections who have images turned off in their browsers. By providing accurate and relevant alt text for your images, you can make your website more accessible for everyone.

2. SEO

In addition to being beneficial for website accessibility, using alt text can also help improve your SEO. When a search engine crawls a website, it looks for certain elements in order to index the site properly. This includes looking at the text on the page as well as any images that are present. When writing your alt text, be sure to include relevant keywords so that your website has a better chance of appearing in relevant search results pages.

3. User Experience

Last but not least, using appropriate alt text can help improve the overall user experience on your website. If an image doesn’t load properly or if someone has images turned off in their browser, having relevant alt text means that they will still be able to understand what the image was supposed to represent. This helps ensure that no one misses out on important information from your website due to technical issues beyond their control.

How to Write Good Alt Tags

When writing alt tags, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Keep it short and sweet:

Alt tags should be concise and to-the-point. Don’t try to stuff too much information into one tag; doing so will only make it more difficult for both search engines and users to understand what the image is depicting. Aim for around 125 characters or less.

Use keywords wisely

Use relevant keywords in your alt tags, but don’t go overboard. Stuffing too many keywords into your tags will not only make them difficult to read, but it will also trigger Google’s spam filter. A good rule of thumb is to use one or two relevant keywords per tag.

Be descriptive

A good alt tag should describe what can be seen in the image without being too vague or too specific. For example, “A picture of a dog” would be too vague while “A brown Labrador retriever playing fetch” would be too specific. The best option would be something like “A dog playing fetch.”

Avoid using phrases like “image of” or “picture of”

These phrases take up valuable space that could be used for actual description. Most search engines automatically recognize images, so there’s no need to include these phrases in your tags.

Don’t neglect default images

If you have any images on your site with the default “image” or “picture” title, change it! These titles provide no value whatsoever and simply take up space that could be used for actual description. If an image is just decorative and doesn’t add value to the reader, you can use ‘null’ as the alt tag. This will tell the screen reader to skip that image.


As you can see, there are many good reasons to make sure you are using appropriate alt text whenever you add images to your website. Not only is it beneficial from an accessibility standpoint, but it can also help improve your SEO and overall user experience on your site. So next time you upload an image, take a few seconds to add some informative yet concise alt text and watch as your website reaps the benefits!


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