How To Use Image Alt Text

Are you looking to take your website SEO to the next level? There are many factors on your website that go into supporting your optimization, and image alt text is one of these. A contraction of the term “alternative text”, image alt text has become increasingly more important in recent years, as organizations and search engines look to make the internet more accessible and usable for everyone.  

What are image alt texts, though, and how can you implement them into your website? We thought we would take a closer look at the benefits these can provide you.  

What is image alt text?

Image alt text, also regularly referred to as alt attributes, alt descriptions, and alt tags, are a piece of alternative text that is used in HTML code to describe the visual appearance of an image and the function it plays on a web page.  

This is designed to let search engines quickly identify images that match queries, helping to improve the optimization of a website. Not only is it a positive in terms of SEO, but alt text is also crucial in ensuring that your website is accessible and usable for those browsers who might be visually impaired.  

What are the benefits of alt text?

Well-written and correctly used alt text is essential to any modern website. Incorporating it into your website provides two main areas of improvement: 


One of the most important reasons to ensure that your site is using the latest recommendations for image alt text is that it will ensure that you are being as accessible as possible. The use of alt text ensures that images are read by screen readers, ensuring that blind or partially sighted visitors understand exactly what it is happening on the screen. Alongside helping visually impaired visitors, alt text is also very useful to people who might have difficulty with sensory processing or other learning disabilities.  

Using alt texts on your website also ensures your site is more accessible in areas of low internet reception. Images can take a long time to load, whereas alt text can be displayed in place of the photo for users who might have selected that option.  

Search Engine Optimization

Of course, alt text is not only about making your website more accessible to visitors. It also plays a crucial role in your site’s SEO. Alt text provides search engines with a semantic meaning and a description of each image. This information is then used to return results when users search for relevant terms.  

In short, alt text ensures search engines know exactly what is happening on your page, and the better they know what your website is about, the higher they will rank you.  

When should you use alt text?

Now you understand the benefits of using alt text on your website, when and where should you use it? 

Images and pictures

The most common place to use alt tags is with and images and photos that you are using on each web page. These tags should be unambiguous and concise, not exceeding any more than two sentences. The best alt tags are those that are no more than a few words which accurately describe the image.  

Diagrams and charts

Diagrams, bar charts, pie charts, and flow charts are fantastic ways to quickly display information to your users. That means you should ensure that they are equally as accessible to every user who visits your website. 

Adding alt text to these diagrams and charts will ensure that you are providing the same information to everyone.  


Videos are another great opportunity to use alt tags. These tags should describe the purpose of the video and the content being shown on the screen, ensuring that search engines and those with accessibility issues can understand what is happening.  

When should you not use alt tags?

While the use of alt tags for images, charts, photos, and videos is essential for informing search engines, you do not want to overload the information you are providing them. That is why there are certain aspects of your website that you do not want to add alt text for, including: 

Decorative objects

You should not be adding alt text to any content that is purely there for decorative reasons, such as a border. While they can enhance the aesthetics for readers, they do not contain any important information, so people who are using screen readers do not need to know that they are there. That is why you should mark them as decorative instead.  

Items not flagged

You also do not need to add any alt tags to areas that have not been flagged by systems such as the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker.

Top tips for writing alt text

Adding alt text to your website is incredibly easy to do, but doing it well can be far more of a challenge. Some top tips to help you write the best alt text possible include: 

Being specific

The most important tip when it comes to alt text is to ensure that you are being as specific as possible. You should say what you see as briefly as you can, imagining that you are describing it to someone over the phone in as fewer words as possible.  

Cut the intro

Many people are tempted to start their alt text with “an image of” but this is unnecessary and can actually be very annoying for users requiring a screen reader. That is why cutting these kinds of phrases out not only boosts your SEO but also enhances the overall user experience.  

Don’t focus on keywords

If you are able to naturally incorporate any relevant keywords into your alt text, that is fantastic. However, do not try to just add them in for the sake of it. Search engines are able to pick up on keyword stuffing, so adding them in when not relevant can result in you being penalized.  

Include text in the image

If the image or photo you are using contains text, then make sure that you are including that as part of the description.

Do not repeat yourself

Another top tip when it comes to alt text is to ensure that you are not repeating yourself. If you have lots of similar images, or there are already captions adjacent to your image, then you do not need to add repetitive alt text.  

Remember form buttons

If you are using images as part of your form buttons, for example, as a ‘submit’ button, then make sure you are using alt text on these as well. Make sure you are describing the relevant function of the button, so anyone using screen readers can understand their purpose.  

Need help with your SEO?

Are you looking for more information on alt tags? Need help taking your SEO to the next level? We know how confusing it can seem, which is why our highly experienced team is on hand to help you every step of the way.  

We specialize in providing comprehensive SEO services that will help you climb the ranks of Google. Want to find out more? Get in touch today!  

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