What Is Alt Text and How Does It Work?

What is Alt Text?

Alt text is another tools that directly impacts your site’s SEO, and when done properly, can improve the user-experience for some of your site’s visitors.

One of Google’s main goals is improving the user-experience for its users, ensuring the algorithm provides them with the answers they need. For this reason Google has placed a greater emphasis on the user-experience, making it a major SEO factor and rolling out multiples updates year-round.

Currently, Google delivers search results based on user intent, which means that users who search for a question online get answers that most accurately reflect what they are searching for. 

Alt-text is one of these factors that directly impacts SEO, and understanding how to use it will allow you to provide your user’s with a better online experience while also improving your site’s rankings in the process.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text is additional copy used to describe an image, including what the image represents and how it’s being used, done as an attribute through HTML code.

Whenever an image fails to load on a webpage, the alt text of an image is displayed in its place. Webpages may not always load in properly, but alt text allows viewers to understand what what supposed to be shown.

While the application of alt-text in a situation like this doesn’t provide much value to the user (you’ll probably just try and reload the page before you even reach the broken images), it is incredibly helpful for the visually impaired.

The importance of screen readers and alt text

Many people who suffer from poor eyesight, or other visual impairements or disabilities, use screen readers to navigate the web. These screen readers scan a page, reading the text as it appears on the site.

When the screen reader comes across an image, it reads the alt text through a synthetic voice, providing the user with a description of what the image is supposed to be about.

Alt text can be added directly to your images through most website builders. Some social media platforms also allow you to add alt text when you post images online, such as Instagram.

Alt text can only be accessed through the Advanced Settings tab right before publishing a photo on Instagram.
Example of where alt text is written through WordPress.

How does alt text impact SEO?

The Google algorithm values and ranks sites higher if users are able to easily navigate through its pages and click on links and buttons. This includes visually impaired users who rely on screen readers to describe button and where they direct visitors.

It is important to be as descriptive as possible when talking about an image. Don’t make it too long; be concise and ensure your alt text is easy to understand.

You’ll also want to incorporate keywords into your writing, but be careful not to overdo it. Only include keywords when it makes sense to do so. Google uses alt text to index images, and keyword stuffing can get your site penalized.

Googles crawlers, just like the screen readers, rely on alt text to better understand the type of content you are serving your visitors on your site.

This directly impacts your site’s SEO and can even help increase organic traffic to your site when somebody does an image search through Google.

Here are some examples of proper alt text descriptions.

Example of how to write bad alt text.

Example of how to write good alt text.


Images are an important part of the online experience for many, and they even play a role in how users interact with your site. Not only does image alt text impact your SEO through site crawlers, but it also affects anyone using a screen reader. Be sure to include alt text with all of your images to avoid missing out on some SEO points (and you get to help some of your site visitors too!). If you have any questions, or would like to get in touch, be sure to visit our Contact Us page or call us directly!

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