Alternate attributes, commonly called “Alt” tags, are used to provide information about web images. These tags aren’t required for the image to render properly but they are a good idea because they can be a key part of optimizing images for the web. Alt tags are simple text snippets added to image src placements in an HTML document.
They appear like this:
<img alt=”Example Tag” src=”example_image.png”> or
<img src=”example_image.png” alt=”Example Tag”>
Why Use Image Alt Tags?
Coding for the web is becoming trickier every day. It’s not necessarily the code itself that changes, but the devices, screen sizes, operating systems and web browsers that your code must account for. All of these unique variables make Alt tags more important than ever. There are two primary reasons for this: The first is search engine optimization (SEO). Alt tags are a very crucial part of image SEO, and image SEO can be a great way for webmasters to improve their site’s ranking in natural search results. The other reason is that alt tags can create significant improvements to an end user’s experience. We’ll explain both below.
Alt Tags for SEO
SEO is very important to webmasters because it’s the most effective way to gain new visitors without paying for them outright. Images can be a big part of making that happen. Alt tags are a critical part of optimizing images for the web. They are a great way to help search engines decipher what is in an image and how it relates to the topic at hand. This has become increasingly important as search engines are looking more for relevancy and accuracy. Check out this post from February to learn more SEO tips.
Alt Tags for User Experience
Alt tags can also be a great way to enhance user experience because images may not always render properly. As we mentioned above, there are more devices, screen sizes, operating systems and web browsers used today, making it more difficult for webmasters to create code that accounts for every possible combination of these. Should an image ever fail to render for a user, the alt text will appear to help describe what the image should be and, if done properly, help to convey the same message that the image itself was intended to do.
Difference Between Img “Alt” and “Title” Tags
It’s important not to confuse Image (Img) “Alt” tags with “Title” tags. Titles can be used to display a name for the image being used. Alt tags, on the other hand, are intended to share more information. Keep in mind, the “Alt” is short for “alternative,” implying that some alternative info is desired here. And, just as the “Alt” tag appears in many browsers when an image fails to render, the “title” tag appears in some browsers when the user hovers over the image.
Get Started with Your Own Image Alt Tags
To start using Alt tags yourself, start by reviewing your existing images. If you come across any that are not already using alt tags, begin adding additional information to those images using this feature. Simply add the snippet within your <img> code, as illustrated in the examples above. Make sure the command is relevant to the image and the page topic. This simple step can go a long way towards helping you optimize your images for the web!