Images have become incredibly important for attracting web traffic and improving the experience that people have on a site. Site Manager even offers a variety of tools to help you create this visual content. However, there is one little attribute associated with images that often gets overlooked. This overlooked attribute is called the alt text or alternative text in Site Manager, although you may also see it called alt tag or alt attribute elsewhere. It can be associated with any image placed within a page.
The alt text’s primary function is to provide a short description associated with an image. This text would only appear on the page if the image was unable to load. A slow internet connection, a broken image link, a screen reader for the visual impaired are a couple of examples for when an image might not load and the alt text would replace it. The HTML for an image with an alt text looks something like the following:
<img src=”conference-presenters.jpg” alt=”Strengthening Christian Schools Conference 2013 presenters”>
The src attribute tells the browser where to look for the image, and the “alt” attribute tells the browser what text is associated with that image. If the example HTML image tag was placed on a page where the link would be broken, the browser would substitute the image with the text from the alt attribute as seen in the image on the left.
However, the image alt text plays another role in website building. The alt text is used by search engines to know more about the content of the page and index images for search results. As a result, the alt text is part of good on-page SEO. While not as important as the other on-page SEO elements, the alt text using a relevant description helps to optimize images and may boost the image up in search results.
When creating the text for the alt attribute, it’s important to follow the following guidelines:
- Keep it short – less than 25 words
- Describe the picture using keywords from the content
- Keep the most relevant text at the beginning of the alt text
- Do not just list random keywords
- Do not repeat the same alt text with different images
- Do not use alt text for images that are intended to be part of the design and aren’t directly related to the content
If you try using alt text to increase your SEO and want to see if they meet Google’s standards, enter your page URL at http://www.feedthebot.com/tools/alt/. (Note: remember that images that are part of the site’s design should not have alt text)
Site Manager has several ways for associating images with alt text. Tools that have a graphic upload option for the image will have have separate field for the Alt Text or tools using File Uploads to place images in the content will have the Alternative Text field in the image options pane.
While not all churches or schools are not interested in Search Engine Optimization, filling the alt text field for images will help with the user experience for people using slow connections or screen readers. We highly recommend taking the time to even place a few descriptive words in the alt text field.
If you’d like to learn more and keep some basic SEO practices updated on your site, be sure to join our monthly user group webinars – free to all our customers! Hope to see you then.