Image alt tags (or “Alternative Text”) improve you accessibility and tell search engine spiders what your images are.
Imagine using your website with your eyes closed. Without the visuals, some key elements (like images) would get completely lost. Image alt tags provide a text description of your image for both the visually impaired and search engine spiders.
Alt tags can improve your SEO, and are considered best practice when publishing a website.
Do all of my images need alt tags?
As a simple rule of thumb, any image that you upload to your website need to have an alt tag unless it is purely for design purpose (like abstract background shapes) and serves the user no contextual value.
What should I write in my alt tags?
While having another place to add keywords to your website is always good, you need to focus on the user first. Best practice is to briefly, but accurately describe what is seen in the image. Imagine you were having to explain the image to someone on the telephone.
If, for instance, you were using this image on your website:
A good alt tag could be “two pigeons walking in green grass”. You don’t want to be too vague (using the word “pigeons” only), at the same time you don’t have to cover every detail. A simple description that clearly explains the image is perfect.
Where do I add alt tags?
WordPress gives you the ability to add alt tags by default, so there is no additional plugins or code you need to accomplish this.
If you view your media library (from your WordPress dashboard, hover over ‘Media’, then click ‘Library’) you will see a gallery of all your images. If you click on an image it will bring up the “Attachment Details” dialogue box. The image alt tag can be added on the right hand side in the field labeled “Alternative Text”.
Once you type in your alt tag, it is automatically saved, and you can use the navigation arrows at the top of the window to go through all your photos.
Best practice is to add your alt tag any time you upload an image. By getting in the habbit of doing this each time, you won’t end up with a long list of images without alt tags that you have to write all at once.