ALT Tags, also known as alt attributes, or alt descriptions, provide search engines and web users with additional information about an image or visual element on a website. ALT tags are attached to HTML elements which be used to describe the content of the image and also provide search engines like Google with image-related information for indexing and ranking.
An ALT tag allows a web page to be found early on, by providing alternative text for an image. ALT tags are displayed in place of an image if the browser can’t render it properly, or the internet user has images disabled in their browser. It is also used by users with visual impairments, as a text to audio reader can read out the content of the ALT tag if the image can not be seen.
When inserting an image, an HTML image tag is also used, containing the necessary information, which should include the source of the image, its width and height, and an ALT tag. The syntax for this type of HTML tag is:
<img src="…" alt="[text]">
The syntax for alt attribute—the alt tag—looks like this: alt=“[text]" The alt text should always accurately describe the image. Depending on the purpose of the image, this text could be a description, a keyword (for SEO) or an action.
Generally speaking, the ALT tag should not contain more than 25 words or any promotional content. As well as being an SEO element, the ALT tag provides a way for people with hearing or visual impairments to access the information on the page. As such, it is important to think about usability when writing ALT tags.
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ALT tags should be concise, informative, and should accurately describe the content of the image. The most effective ALT tags will contain descriptive keywords instead of generic phrases (such as 'image', 'photo' or 'graphic') as search engine algorithms can recognise them more easily.
ALT tags should always include a brief title or description of the image in question. An ALT tag should describe the image as if you were speaking to a colleague or customer. You could keep it simple, such as “Our office building”, or “Orange t-shirt with our logo”.
The purpose of the image should also be taken into account when writing an ALT tag. For example, a contact form image should use the ALT text “Contact us”, as opposed to “Online form”.
Keep in mind that ALT tags will have an effect on a website's SEO ranking. Although the quality of ALT tags is important in terms of SEO, they should not contain keywords that are irrelevant to the image.
Finally, remember to always keep the ALT tag relevant to the context. Do not repeat the same keyword more than once and do not use unrelated keywords, as this could harm the website's SEO.
Overall, ALT tags serve dual purposes – helping people access information and helping SEO. When used correctly with clear descriptive phrases, ALT tags can help bring more visitors to a website and also provide better accessibility for all users.