How To Nail Your Alt Text: 10 Alt Text Description Best Practices

Jul 03, 2023
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If I had a penny for every time I was asked about alt text, I'd have a 7 figure business! Seriously, these little snippets of text cause much more angst than they need to, so today, I'm going to show you how to write a perfect alt text snippet by taking you through 10 alt text best practices.

But First, What is Alt Text, and Why Does Alt Text Matter?

Alt text, short for alternative text, is a very brief description of an image that provides a textual alternative to the visual content of the image.

Alt text serves as important for making images accessible to all users, including those who are visually impaired, use screen readers or have cognitive disabilities.

It also plays a role in search engine optimisation (SEO), helping to improve image search rank and drive traffic from users who rely on image search results. 

In short, you need to add alt text to your images - on your website and blogs!

Where Do You Add Alt Text

Every CMS is different, but on each of your website's pages, or in your blog, you'll have a place to add alt text.

Here's where you add it in WordPress

alt text box in Wordpress

And in Kajabialt text box in Kajabi

How To Write Good Alt-Text

Ok, now you know that alt text makes your website's images accessible to all internet users, and they help drive more traffic to your website from people who prefer visuals to words. 

But what makes a good alt text description?

Let's find out.

1. Keep It Short and Descriptive

Keep it short. Your alt text doesn't need to be a 1000-word piece of purple prose. In fact, you should keep it as short as you can whilst still being descriptive.

Most screen readers will cut off at 125 characters, or about 20 words, so keep your alt text descriptions short and to the point.

You might be describing complex images, but still, avoid fluff or unnecessary words. 

I always try to think of the person listening to the screen reader. What would they need to hear to understand the image without having to sit through unnecessary waffle.

2. Use Plain Language

When it comes to writing alt text, it's essential to use language that's easy to understand.

Don't use technical jargon or overly-complex vocabulary so your alt text is accessible to all users, regardless of their reading level or cognitive ability.

3. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Alt text descriptions used to be somewhere less scrupulous website owners tried to stuff keywords in to boost their SEO.

Keyword-stuffed alt text would have looked something like this.

 "purple pen, purple pen, purple pen, purple pen, purple pen, light purple pen, light purple pen, light purple pen, light purple pen, light purple pen".

But it doesn't work these days so please don't do it! It can actually damage your SEO.

Of course, if your image is directly related to a keyword you're using in your blog or on a page of your website, absolutely include it in your alt text description, but don't add try and add a keyword to your alt text if it isn't relevant to that image or repeat a keyword over and over again in the alt text.

4. Don't Include Image File Names

Another Alt-Text best practice worth mentioning is NOT including the file name of your image in your alt text. 

I know it might seem a good idea to use the file name as part of the alt text, but it isn't. Adding the file name confuses can confuse the screen readers and is frustrating for screen reader users.

It can also negatively impact your SEO as the search engines use alt text to understand the content of images for image rank and image pack features.

If you use the file name as your alt text, it provides no additional content or keyword relevance to search engine algorithms. 

5. Don't Start with "Image Of…" or "Picture Of…"

Another don't! I'm sorry, but it's super important that you don't use redundant phrases like "image of" or "picture of".

Screen readers already tell the user that it is an image, so there's no need for you to do it too.

There are a couple of exceptions, though. For instance, if you've included your logo on a page, you could write something like "logo of xxx."

And if you've included a chart, you might want to say something along the lines of "a chart depicting xxx."

6. Only Provide Necessary Information

When writing alt text for images, please try to include only the necessary information.

Focus on the function or information contained in the image and avoid any irrelevant details.

A helpful tip I've picked up along the way is to include the most important information first, based on the context of the image.

7. Evoke The Mood

Another tip for writing good alt text is to use descriptive language that evokes the image's mood or emotion.

For example, instead of simply saying "a red flower," you could say "a vibrant red rose in full bloom."

This gives the user more information about the image and can help enhance their experience.

8. Make Sure to Update Alt Text When You Replace Images

If you're updating your website or refreshing a blog and you add a new image, don't forget to update your alt text.

So simple, but it's amazing how often people forget.

Just head over to the image, and pop in some new alt-text.

9. Don't Include Your Business Name

I get asked all the time whether or not to include your business name in your alt text, and I have a very simple answer.


Think about it.

Does your business name naturally sum up the image you're adding to your blog? 

99% of the time, it won't, so your business name doesn't belong in that alt text description.

10. Imagine you're describing the image to someone over the phone

The best tip I can give you for writing good alt text is to imagine you are on the phone with someone, and you're describing an item or image to them in simple terms that help them understand exactly what you're talking about.

And use that as your alt text description

Alt Text Best Practices: 10 Steps To Alt Text Perfection

So, there you have it. Your "How To Guide" to writing perfect alt text!

Why don't you use this as a checklist next time you're writing a blog or add an image to a page on your website?

  • Keep it short and descriptive - no more than 125 characters long
  • Use Plain Language - leave out technical jargon
  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing
  • Don't Include Image File Names
  • Don't Start with "Image Of…" or "Picture Of…"
  • Only Provide Necessary Information
  • Evoke The Mood
  • Make Sure to Update Alt Text When You Replace Images
  • Don't Include Your Business Name
  • Imagine you're describing the image to someone over the phone

 And, of course, if you have any questions, please leave me a comment.

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