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Mastering Alt Text for Inclusive Content

Creating accessible content is at your fingertips with alt text! With alt text, you’re creating more inclusive content and significantly impacting search engine rankings, increasing your website’s accessibility and content visibility.

“We’re sculpting a digital realm that embraces everyone, fuels inclusivity, and propels us toward an interconnected future,” says Andrew A. Hagen, integrated communications coordinator at CEL. “Quality alt text helps transcend barriers and support visual content.”

What is Alt Text?

Alt text, short for alternative text, is a descriptive text attribute added to website images. Its primary purpose is to provide information about the image for people who use assistive technology or machine readers to navigate your website. Screen readers, used by individuals with visual challenges, read out the alt text to describe the image, allowing them to understand its content and context.

Beyond accessibility, alt text also plays a crucial role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines use alt text to understand what an image is about, which helps rank the content appropriately in search results.

Prioritize Alt Text

Alt text is a powerful tool that fosters inclusivity on your website, enabling users of all visual abilities to comprehend image content. By adhering to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards, alt text demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity. It also enhances SEO rankings, ensuring your educational institution remains visible and appealing online.

Enhancing Accessibility for All

The internet is for everyone. Alt text enables all community members to access image content on your website, regardless of their visual abilities. Screen readers read the alt text, providing a comprehensive understanding of images and their context.

Compliance and Inclusivity

With alt text, your website complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards and guidelines, making it accessible to all users. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity and sets an example for other educational institutions.

Improving SEO Rankings

We understand the challenges organizations face in staying visible online amidst fierce competition for attention. Alt text is also a tool to improve the use of keywords on your page. Alt text optimization helps search engines like Google understand the content of your images, thereby boosting your SEO rankings. So, your website and content will be more likely to appear in relevant search results, attracting prospective customers. 

Effective Alt Text

Let’s use this picture as an example.

A person sits at a high-top table working on a laptop with bookshelves behind them
Caption this? The better question is how would you Alt Text this image?

Bad Alt Text

<img src=”picture.jpg alt=”image“>

In this instance, the file name and alt text provide no information about what the image is conveying. Any visitor using assistive technology would have no understanding of how this picture relates to the content of your website.

Striking the perfect balance

<img src=”person-with-laptop.jpgalt=”A person sits at a high-top table working on a laptop with bookshelves behind them“>

This file name and alt text provide context and relevance for the image, benefiting both screen readers and SEO.

Too Much Alt Text

<img src=”sports-day.jpgalt=”A focused person wearing a white crew neck t-shirt sitting at a neatly organized office desk surrounded by bookshelves filled with books and folders.”>

While it’s essential to be descriptive, avoid excessively lengthy alt text. For example, is the fact that he is focused important? Does the color and style of his shirt matter? Is the state of organization of his desk relevant? No.

The Good and Bad of Alt Text

Alt text is not a place to cram in your keywords. If your tagline is “Unlocking Excellence, Empowering Minds,” these words do not contribute to the description of a student and teacher engaging in learning.

Accuracy and relevancy in alt text also matter. If it’s a photo of a school superintendent reading with students, name your superintendent in the alt text. For example, “Superintendent Jane Doe reads with fourth-grade students in the media center at Riverdale Elementary” describes who is doing what and where.

Alt Text for Logos and Infographics

When crafting alt text for logos, describe the brand or product represented.

Take our logo, for example. Good alt text might be, “Three interlocking circles with letters C, E, and L followed by the words ‘Creative, Effective, Lasting.’

When dealing with infographics, distill the main message or data visualization into succinct descriptions, emphasizing the core insights. It’s important to avoid redundancy with surrounding content, as the primary information should reside within the page’s written copy.

Infographic alt text might be “Bar chart depicting rising global renewable energy consumption from 2010 to 2020.”

Alt Text Quick Tips

      1. Limit your alt text to 125 characters or fewer.
      2. Avoid starting your alt text with “picture of.”
      3. Spellcheck your alt text.

If you’re unsure how to write effective alt text, leverage AI technology such as— Alt text generation faster and easier. With enhanced SEO efforts and alt text, you’ll benefit from improved search engine rankings and increased organic traffic to your website.

Forging a path toward a more inclusive online presence while elevating your SEO game is a win-win. Start now and empower users and search engines to connect and engage with your content. Need help making your content accessible? Give us a call. We’d be happy to talk through best practices.

You might also be interested in our 5-point inspection to improve websites.

Published on: August 25, 2023