Many of us will remember when Facebook and Instagram seemingly lost all our images for a day. Text detailing what was in our precious photos appeared at an almost clairvoyant level. It must be “BIG BROTHER” the world shrieked.
ZILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORLDWIDE – WERE SPOOKED!
The eerie texts were a guess at what was in the image, but why, how? If you are visually impaired, you would know the answer to this. For those that don’t know read on. What you were seeing is called “Alt Text” short for Alternative Text.
Click image to enlarge
This mysterious text is a legislative standard for ensuring accessibility and is being met by complex algorithms. As you upload your personal photographs and happy memories, these algorithms can identify the subjects, the scene type, even famous landmarks.
The answer for Facebook (now Meta of course), other social networks and ginormous e-commerce sites, etc to keep compliant, was to develop algorithms to fill in this information for their users. Not everyone adds a description to their photo as they upload, let alone a true representation of what’s in the image. “Freddie did it again lolz” doesn’t cut the mustard at the powerful WC3 (The World Wide Web Consortium).
You will have noticed that when you roll over an image on a web page, a ribbon of text sometimes appears. This text can be enlarged or read out by a reader such as Siri. If there has been no Alt text entered, no ribbon. You may also see an omage is missing but has some text in it’s place too.
It’s good to remember this rule of thumb too: the more accessible your site is to humans with disabilities, the higher your SEO score. Search engines can tell you have Alt Text missing, it makes up part of your SEO score.
You almost certainly don’t have access to a expensive, highly developed piece of code to make your images automatically accessible, so must do the work yourself. Please see the infographic for the generic labels you will see in your own media browser.
SEO TIPS FOR YOUR IMAGES
- File name: Always ensure your images are named according to what is in them. Search engines read file names. e.g. WordPress-training-desk-screen-henley-on-thames.jpg.
- Alt Text: WordPress Training – Desk with monitor showing WordPress Training – Henley on Thames.
- Title: Copy and paste your Alt text in here or choose a different title.