Alternative (alt) text is an important yet often overlooked aspect of church and nonprofit websites. Though it can seem mundane and tedious, it’s a necessary practice that makes your website accessible for all users and helps boost your SEO.

In this article, we’ll dive into what alt text is, what its purpose is, and how to write it effectively.

So, what is alt text?

Alt text is a description of the appearance or function for every image on your website. It’s the written copy that appears if an image fails to load or is read aloud by visually impaired users that use screen reading tools.

What is Alt Text Used For?

  • It increases accessibility. As we mentioned above, alt text is necessary for visually impaired users. Screen reading tools will read alt text aloud to describe the appearance and function of an image on your website. This helps give impaired users the same information and experience on your site.
  • It can fill in gaps. Sometimes, glitches can happen and your images may fail to load. In this case, your alt text will appear in its place. In this case, users will still be able to understand what your image was trying to convey.
  • It helps search engine crawlers. Well-written alt text descriptions help search engine crawlers effectively rank your images in image search and give them a better idea of the content that your site includes. This helps them recommend your website to relevant user searches.

How Do I Write Good Alt text?

Unfortunately, not just any string of words is going to be effective. For best results, you and your team will need the best practices for good alt text.

  • Keep it Short

Alt text should be kept around 125 characters. Try to keep your descriptions concise while still effectively describing the image.

  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing

You may think alt text is a great place to stuff as many keywords as possible to boost your SEO. This is not the case! While using 1 or 2 keywords can be helpful (only if they’re applicable), Google can tell if you’re keyword stuffing. This could negatively affect your website’s rank.

  • Omit ‘Picture of’

Many users make the mistake of starting their alt description with ‘image’ or ‘picture of.’ This is redundant for both humans and bots. Search engine crawlers will already know it’s an image because it’s alt text. As for humans, no one wants to hear their screen reading tools repeat ‘image’ over and over again. It’s best to simply leave this phrase out.

  • Leave Decorative Images Blank

Not every image on your website is there for a purpose. Some are purely meant to be decorative, and these should have an empty alt attribute (alt = “ “). This tells users with screen readers and web crawlers to skip the image since it doesn’t have a function other than decoration.

Alt Text Example

Below, we’ll show you an example of good and bad description using a stock image.

 

A young man shoots a basketball towards the hoop on an outdoor court.


Bad:
Basketball, ball, hoop, outside, basketball, man, basketball hoop

This doesn’t accurately describe the image and wouldn’t make sense to someone using a screen reading tool. Google may also think you’re keyword stuffing.

Also Bad: Man shoots basketball.

This is better than just listing keywords, but it still doesn’t give users much information.

Good: A young man shoots a basketball towards the hoop on an outdoor court.

This gives the user a good description of the image without being too long or wordy. It describes the action and background of the image.

How Do I Add Alt Text in WordPress?

One of the easiest ways to add an alt description in WordPress is in the media library. After you upload an image, you can click on it to view the ‘attachment details.’ On the right hand side, you can view the alternative text box as well as title, caption, and other information.

Here’s an example of an image of our owner, James, on the Yemba Digital website. You can see the box where we’ve written our description.

Wordpress displays the attachment details of an image of Yemba Digital's owner.

Simply type in an accurate description of your image, and you’re good to go.

(We mentioned earlier that some images don’t need an alt description and should have an empty alt attribute: alt = “ “. To give your image an empty attribute in WordPress, just leave the box blank.

Need Help?

Whether your church or nonprofit needs help with alt text or SEO services in general, our team at Yemba Digital has got you covered.

We know that not everyone has the time, patience, or expertise for SEO. If your team needs a helping hand, reach out to us today. We would love the opportunity to serve you!

Learn more about alt text.

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