How To Write Good Alt Text

A computer keyboard in the background. How To Write Good Alt Text written over it in blue text

Hello everyone. When I started my first blog many moons ago I had no idea what all the technical terms ment or how to write good alt text. I simply wrote shit (and yes for the most part my old posts really were shite) and pressed send.

Fast forward a couple of years and I began to take more of an interest in the technical side of blogging. I learnt about keywords, SEO, picture resizing and very basic coding. There were still a lot of things that I didn’t  understand. But my blog seemed to function quite well without me knowing what they did, so I left them alone.

One of those things was the alt text. I knew there was an alt text box there when editing pictures, but couldn’t see how it benefited me or the blog. So I always left it blank.

Alt Text and Pintrest

I first used  alt text when I discovered Pintrest. At the time I was using WordPress.com and didn’t know how to make my images pinable. After searching Google I found that adding the post title as alt text for an image made the image pinable.

However there’s no need to do this. The alt text wasn’t designed to help bloggers share posts to pintrest. And  the share button options on WordPress and Blogger now include a Pintrest button.

Alt Text and SEO

I began using alt text more when I became interested in improving my SEO. SEO for those who are not up on their blog speak stands for search engine optimization. It relates (I think) to how likely a search engine such as google is to find  a post and list it when someone searches for the subject the post is about.

I  was using the SEO help plugin Yeost. One of the things Yeost says to do to improve SEO is put keywords into the alt text. This is because the alt text is read by search engines.

Now while it is true that keywords within alt text can improve your SEO this is also not its prime function.

What is alt text designed for?

Alt text  actually stands for alternative text, and that is basically what it is. It provides an alternative to the image in a post. Alt text was designed for people who have sight problems and rely on text readers to access the internet.

I’ll be honest,   I was quite ignorant about the real importance of how to write good alt text until very recently. I became aware of it after following a thread in a Facebook blogger group. A certain blogger (blogger A)  said alt text did not aid SEO, so should not be included in a post. A  blogging friend of mine who uses a text reader politely pointed out the real use of alt text. Blogger A stated images were just used to pretty up a post and  blind or partially sighted people didn’t need to know what was in the images.

Now obviously this view is bollocks and very discriminating. But actually by not including alt texts in my posts I felt I wasn’t a lot better than the blogger A. So I’ve made a conscious effort to include alt text in all my new posts and to gradually go back and include it in old posts.

How to write good alt text

So, we arrive back to the title question. Alt texts obviously need to describe what it in the picture. But how to write good alt text?  I am a waffler (you may have noticed) and could write a paragraph on each picture but that isn’t going to be very useful. The key is to put a  brief but accurate description. Keywords can be used in alt text but only if they fit the description of the picture.

I’ve add a couple of pictures  with the alt text copied into the caption box. So people can see examples of how to write good alt text descriptions.

A wall in chepstow castle. Three arch doors at ground level. A wooden stairs leading to a third door. The sky beyond the wall is bright blue
A wall in chepstow castle. Three arch doors at ground level. A wooden stairs leading to a third door. The sky beyond the wall is bright blue
A medieval room with a vaulted roof. An arch doorway at the far side of the room leading outside
A medieval room with a vaulted roof. An arch doorway at the far side of the room leading outside

As you can see the descriptions aren’t hugely detailed, but enough to give people using text readers an idea of what the image is.

I’ve written this long rambling post because I suspect a like me a lot of bloggers won’t be that aware of the importance of good alt text for blind and partially sighted people. But  like me they will be happy to use it once they are aware of its importance in aiding everyone to enjoy their posts fully.

Were you aware of how alt text helps people  with sight problems access the internet? Will you be more inclined to use it now?

Scientific Fact ~ Bloggers feed on blog comments. Please help keep this blogger well fed♡

Thank you, Mrs A Xx

45 Comments

  1. Chloe

    October 20, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Hi, thanks for sharing this helpful info. It’s a bit of a mindfield. It’s a constant learning process for me #mixitup

  2. Rosie Doal

    October 17, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I must admit I didn’t care much about this when I started out in January either but the more I blog, the more I research and read about things I can do to improve the SEO. Alt Text is so important and I do it for every post. Maybe not as well as you’ve done it above. I must make more effort and go back one day and re-do all of mine. #MixItUp

  3. Nikki Ranson

    October 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Pretty awesome information, luckily I have a very techno geek husband who helps me with it all! I’m still learning the basics, so some days I think my post is mint and others I think it’s naff, but it’s all a learning curve, that and SEO

  4. mummyhereandthere

    October 16, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Thank you for sharing such important information X #mixitup

  5. Spectrum Mum (@SpectrumMum_)

    October 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I am quite frankly ashamed at how rubbish I am at doing this even though Sassy explained it all to be perfectly. I am going to give myself a good kick up the arse and do it from now on. thanks for the reminder. #mixitup

  6. Liberty on the Lighter Side - (LoLS)

    October 15, 2018 at 11:01 am

    About a bazillion years ago when the internet was new and slow, I used to teach PageMill (one of the earliest web design programmes for Apple). Iniitally alt text was helpful in that it allowed people to understand there was an image and what it was if it didn’t download, it made it quicker for people to scan websites. However I was only made aware of how felpful it is to visually impaired viewers earlier this year from a visually impaired blogger too. It’s wonderful how softwear has come on so far that information can be read out loud from a computer too. #mixitup

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      October 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

      It is wonderful. I still worry about how well I write my alt text, but I always add it

      1. Liberty on the Lighter Side - (LoLS)

        October 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

        Yes it’s hard to get it down to a few words isn’t it!

  7. Crummy Mummy

    November 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I didn’t know this was the true purpose of alt text but it totally makes sense! Thanks for debunking it! #familyfunlinky

  8. Alana - Burnished Chaos

    November 25, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    This is something I’m really bad at, I have started doing it more but definitely need to be more consistent with it and go back through some old posts too. Really helpful post.
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky x

  9. Alice | Letters to my Daughter

    November 22, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Ah, I knoew it was for decribing the picture, but I had thought of it more in terms of if the picture doesn’t load for some reason (which has happened on occasion). Hadn’t considered the visually impaired aspect – thanks for pointing it out, I will make more of an effort in future. #BlogCrush

  10. Mum in Brum

    November 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    I had no idea about this, thanks so much for enlightening me! I do remember at a blogging conference one of the lecturers did tell us that we should describe the image and not use the post title, which makes total sense now. I’ll definitely be writing my alt texts differently now!

  11. The Pramshed

    November 21, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    This is a really useful post Tracey and I’ve been using alt text incorrectly for nearly two years. I’ve always been post title in there, oh well, at least it says something. For my next post, I’ll think about the alt text a little more. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  12. Mackenzie Glanville

    November 21, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I have never heard of this, thank you for letting me know! #abloggingggodtime

  13. Karen | TwoTinyHands

    November 21, 2017 at 4:04 am

    I have used alt text since I started my blog. Where I thought it was a pain sometimes I have seen the benefits of doing pay off and can see in my “geek” stats that I have consistent hits through Google a couple of years later on certain posts… fairly early on though I met a blind blogger who is now a good friend and she convinced me that even though a pain to do sometimes it’s totally worth it for a bit of inclusivity. It’s become habit now to add in some
    Alt text to the point i can’t not do it!
    I love awareness posts like this for bloggers!! #familyfunlinky

  14. Stephanie

    November 21, 2017 at 12:31 am

    Thanks so much for this post! My blog is largely focused on communication and accessibility issues, and I didn’t know about this! I knew a little bit about image descriptions, but I haven’t taken enough time to learn how to write them properly. This helped me learn how important they really are and how to write them properly, so I am now able to add a new level of accessibility to my blog.

  15. Michelle

    November 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Stopping by again from your linky #MondayStumble Great Post Tracey!

  16. Annette, Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne

    November 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Like you I only started recently using the alt text box on my pictures, and I’ve known for only a short while that it is for visually impaired people. Very helpful post, thank you!
    #FamilyFun

  17. Rachel George

    November 20, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I had no idea what the Alt Text box was for. Thank you so much. I shall make sure I do a better job with my blog in future.

  18. Plutonium Sox

    November 20, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Oh gosh, I had no idea. I’m so glad I read this, I will do it properly from now on. #MondayStumble
    Nat.x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 20, 2017 at 10:34 am

      It really is something that is not explained to bloggers properly. I was only made aware of it recently x

  19. Star Harford

    November 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I had absolutely no clue what alt text was for until I read this! Thankyou! I think Im going to have to go back and redo all of mine!

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 20, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Im gradually doing mine, its going to take some time x

  20. Heather Keet

    November 20, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I think I need to set this as my next blog project! #MondayStumble

  21. relentlesslypurple

    November 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I saw the original thread about this and tried to improve mine too when I did the pocket money toy box reviews. Great guide, I thought mine was a little rambly but I think reading this mine should be ok-ish 😂 #familyfunlinky

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

      I think rambly is okay as it shows lots of effort and care 😁

  22. Sam - Stressy Mama

    November 20, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Great post. I always knew we had to fill alt text in but never really knew what exactly had to be put in there, or why. Thank you for the guide, I will ensure I fill them in properly now. 😊 #FamilyFunLinky

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 20, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Youre most welcome xx

  23. Michelle

    November 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I had no idea that this is what alt text is for! I only knew it to be for booting SEO, especially when everytime I try to put that little dot above my post in the green and it says the pictures don’t display the SEO word in alt text. This is really good to know. I will try to remember to do this with my pictures from now on:) #ablogginggoodtime

  24. MMT

    November 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    A real eye opener 😉 see what I did there…thanks so much for linking Tracey! #coolmumclub

  25. Ann from Rainbows are too beautiful

    November 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Really helpful – I think I’m probably not writing enough in my alt text given your examples. They are usually short like ‘Boy on beach’ or such like. Thanks for your examples. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      Youre most welcome xx

  26. The Squirmy Popple

    November 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Just popping back from #ablogginggoodtime!

  27. Jane Murguia

    November 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Me too. I was so clueless when I started blogging. I’m still no expert but I sure learned a lot of things since then.

  28. Talya

    November 16, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I have to admit I am terrible with alt text – a lazy blogger who just pastes her keywords in there shame on my name! This is a great post on how to do it properly. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xx

  29. Helen @talking_mums

    November 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I’ve just been learning more about this myself. Great tips. I’d always keep my alt text very brief but will try and expand a little x
    #fortheloveofblog

  30. Lisa - Little Orange Dog

    November 16, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I wasn’t even aware of this, but what a brilliant tool. Definitely going to look at using this in the future. #coolmumclub xx

  31. Ali Duke

    November 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I never knew this about alt text. I will be using it better in the future.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  32. ejb117

    November 15, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    This is really helpful – thank you! I do wonder about how accessible my blog is and I’d like to improve it but am not entirely sure where to start… I do use the alt text box but possibly not in the best way.

  33. The Squirmy Popple

    November 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Alt text is so important – I have a blind friend and I know how frustrating it can be for her when people don’t include it. #fortheloveofBLOG

  34. Oldhouseintheshires

    November 15, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I kinda knew this but don’t make full use of it for sure!

  35. Rich Sayers

    November 15, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Super helpful! I’ve been reading about this periodically but never fully understood it. Now I do, thanks! Its now on my list to sort out on the blog

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 15, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Its not something that is properly explained to bloggers very often it would appear.

  36. Anne

    November 14, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Well done for raising awareness of this. It was only recently (After becoming disabled and connecting with other disabled bloggers) that I discovered what alt.text was for. I do try to remember to use it all the time now. I don’t have sight problems but there are people out there who do and why shouldn’t they know what’s in the picture? Brilliant post x

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      November 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      I have hearing problems myself and I know that without subtitles I cant enjoy films and programs. So I understand how it can be to not have something you need to help you access something x

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