Alt Attribute Definition:

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The Alt attribute, short for "Alternative Text," is a description added to an HTML image tag. It serves as an alternative to the image when it cannot be displayed, helping visually impaired users understand the image content and providing valuable information for search engines. It’s a common mistake to forget about the Image alt text Search engines can’t see images like humans do. They rely on this to understand the image. You should write an accurate description of the image. It may be beneficial to add a keyword in there, but it must be done in a way that is relevant. Avoid generic descriptions like “image”. Keep it short. Most screen readers cut off at 125 characters, so keep it below this length. Add to All Images. Even if it's purely decorative. In these cases, you can use an empty attribute like alt="". This signals the image isn’t important.
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Alt Attribute Definition -

Why Alt Attributes Matter in Web Design

In web design, many overlook the Alt attribute, but it’s crucial for an inclusive, accessible digital experience. Alt text, a short snippet added to image tags, improves website usability for the visually impaired by offering a description when images don’t load. It not only enhances accessibility but also boosts SEO. Search engines use this attribute to interpret image Content and to rank web pages in search results. Thus, web developers and content creators must prioritize and craft thoughtful Alt texts to elevate user experience and website visibility.

Key Insights about the Alt Attribute:


Alt attributes give screen reader users—like the visually impaired or blind—a clearer image understanding. This step makes your website more universally designed and accessible.


While search engines can’t ‘see’ images, they read alt tags. Relevant alt tags can improve your webpage’s search engine ranking, offering context for search engine bots to index an image correctly.

Fallback Option

If an image doesn’t display due to errors, slow connections, or user preferences, the Image description appears instead. This ensures users don’t miss out on information.

Social Media Sharing:

Some social platforms might use the alt text when sharing an image directly from your site.

Best Practices for Alt Attributes:


Describe the image briefly and accurately. Avoid keyword stuffing. Aim for user value, especially for screen reader users.


Aim for brevity. Most screen readers limit alt text to about 125 characters.


Make the alt text relevant to the page’s content. Skip generic terms like “image” or “picture”.

Keyword Use:

Include keywords in your alt text only when relevant and meaningful.

Avoid Redundancy:

Skip phrases like “picture of…” since screen readers already announce the image.

Use for All Images:

All images, even decorative ones, should have an alt attribute. For non-essential images, use an empty alt attribute (alt=””)

Alt Attribute Examples

<!-- Proper use of alt attribute -->
<img src="ocean-sunset-photo.jpg" alt="A beautiful sunset over the ocean">
<img src="decorative-image.jpg" alt="">
<img src="google-logo.jpg" alt="Google Logo">

<!-- Wrong use of alt attribites -->
<img src="image.jpg">
<img src="image_2.jpg" alt="image_2">
<img src="glass_of_water.jpg" alt="image of a glass of water 800x600 size">
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    Alt Attribute Questions & Answers:

    What is the alt attribute in HTML?

    The Alt description in HTML, commonly referred to as “alt text,” is used within an <img> tag to provide a text description of an image. It serves as a textual alternative for the image, describing its Content or purpose.

    Why is the alt attribute important for web accessibility?

    Web accessibility ensures that all users, regardless of any disabilities, can access content. The alternative text aids those who use screen readers or have visual impairments, offering a description of the image when they can’t see or interpret it directly.

    How does the alt attribute benefit SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

    Search engines can’t “see” images like humans do. The Alt description provides context about the image’s content, helping search engines understand and index it appropriately. Consequently, well-crafted alt text can improve a page’s ranking in image searches and contribute to overall SEO.

    How do I correctly format alt text for images?

    Alt text should be succinct yet descriptive. Avoid starting with “picture of…” or “image of…”; instead, directly describe the image’s content or function, ensuring it makes sense in the context of the surrounding content.

    What’s the difference between alt text and title text for images?

    While both provide additional information about an image, their use cases differ. Alt text offers a textual replacement for the image, mainly aiding accessibility. In contrast, the title text (given by the title attribute) offers supplementary info, typically displayed as a tooltip when a user hovers over the image.

    How long should alt text be?

    Conciseness is key. Typically, 125 characters or fewer are recommended, ensuring the description is meaningful without overwhelming screen reader users.

    Should every image on a website have an alt attribute?

    Ideally, yes. Every image should have an alt tag but not always alt text. Decorative images that don’t convey content or have a function can have an empty alt (alt=””), ensuring screen readers skip them.

    How does the alt attribute enhance the user experience for those using screen readers?

    Screen readers vocalize web content for visually impaired users. When they encounter an image with alt text, they read out this text, thus conveying the image’s content or purpose. Without alt text, users might miss out on crucial information or context.

    Are there specific guidelines for writing effective alt text?

    Yes. Effective alt text should be concise, descriptive, and contextually relevant. Avoid redundant phrases like “image of,” avoid keyword stuffing, and ensure the text offers value to those who can’t view the image.

    Do decorative images or graphics require alt text?

    Decorative images that don’t provide content or functional value should still have an alt attribute, but it should be empty (alt=””). This practice ensures that screen readers skip the image rather than mistakenly trying to interpret it.

    How does the alt attribute affect image search rankings?

    Search engines use alt text to understand an image’s context. Properly optimized alt text can boost the image’s visibility in image search results, indirectly contributing to the SEO of the hosting webpage.

    What happens if I don’t include an alt attribute for an image?

    Missing alt attributes can harm user experience and accessibility. Users with screen readers may miss out on content, and search engines might not properly index the image, potentially affecting the site’s SEO.

    Should I include keywords in my alt text for SEO purposes?

    While it’s beneficial to include relevant keywords, they should be incorporated naturally and contextually. Keyword stuffing or adding irrelevant keywords can be counterproductive and potentially penalized by search engines.

    How do I add alt text to images in content management systems like WordPress?

    Most CMS platforms, like WordPress, offer straightforward options to add alt text when uploading or editing images. In WordPress, when inserting an image, there’s a specific “Alternative Text” field where you can enter your alt text.

    How can I check if my website’s images have appropriate alt text?

    Several online tools and browser extensions, like WAVE or the AXE browser extension, can analyze your website for accessibility, highlighting images missing alt attributes or suggesting improvements.

    Is it necessary to add alt text to SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) images?

    Yes. SVGs, while often used for icons or illustrations, still convey content or function. They should have alternative descriptions, either via alt text or other accessible SVG techniques.

    How do I handle alt text for complex images, charts, or infographics?

    For intricate visuals, provide a concise alt text summarizing the main point and, if possible, offer a longer description or a textual alternative elsewhere on the page, linking to it near the image.

    Can I use emojis or special characters in alt text?

    While technically possible, it’s essential to consider how screen readers will interpret them. Some emojis or characters might be read out in a manner that disrupts the flow or confuses the user.

    Are there tools or software available to generate alt text automatically?

    Some platforms and AI services can auto-generate alt text, but these aren’t always accurate or contextually relevant. It’s best to manually curate alt text or at least review machine-generated alternatives for accuracy and relevance.

    Alt Attribute QUOTE:

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    "Alt attributes are the unsung heroes of web design, enabling everyone to experience the beauty of the web, regardless of visual limitations." - Unknown
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    Article By: Nathan Ergang


    Nathan Ergang, the web developer behind, he has over a decade of WordPress and online marketing expertise. His venture into the expansive universe of web development started in 2012, though his passion for personal projects took root much earlier. A practitioner of multiple web languages such as PHP, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, and Python, Nathan has also deep-dived into SEO and possesses a keen eye for graphic design. Green Marketing, a venture close to Nathan's heart, stands testament to his entrepreneurial drive and commitment. Outside the digital domain, Nathan savors life's simpler pleasures. He cherishes traveling, often venturing off the beaten path, and has a knack for capturing the essence of a moment through photography and videography.

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