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Image Alt Text

What Is Alt Text?

Alt text or alternate text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website. If an image fails to load on your web page, alt text is the written copy that appears in place of the image.

Why Should I Write Alt Text?

Writing alt text is a high priority whenever you upload an image to your site. Optimizing images with alt text will provide greater relevance to search engines about your content and help drive traffic to your site.

Additionally, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) has determined that Section 508 and its regulations apply to USG institutions, including CAES and UGA Extension. Therefore, we are required to include alt text with all images on our web pages.

Check out the BoR’s Web Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities resource, a comprehensive site detailing accessibility guidelines and tools for all USG institutions for more information.

Best Practices for Writing Alt Text

Image alt text needs to be specific but also represent the topic of the web page it is supporting. Here are a few key tips for writing effective image alt text:

  • Assign alt text to images as you upload them.
  • Limit alt text to 100 characters max.
  • Be specific when describing an image. Add important keywords when you have the space.
  • Use natural language — write for human readers, not search engines.
  • Don’t use “image of” or “picture of” in your description.
  • If the image is linked, briefly describe the image and tell the user what activating the link will do.
  • Do not use an image to convey text. For example, don’t post an image of your event flyer on a web page and call it a day. To make the content accessible, you will need to create a web page using text from the document.

Learn more and see examples at WebAIM: Alternative Text.