Today, I’ve got a special podcast for you: I want to talk about alternatives. And when you do website design, there’s lots of alternatives these days. You can design it for desktop, you could do it specifically for mobile phones, you could do it only for iPads; or you could design a web site for all three.
You could set up a website that is nothing but text, nothing but video, all audio for podcasters or just images; however you want.
However, those aren’t the alternatives that I’m going to talk about today.
Now, the ALT tag is the alternative text that you use on an image. And you might think, well what’s the use of doing that? and most people don’t use an ALT tag. But when you do a search, like if you
One of the steps in the workbook is to find out how many errors or warnings are on your website.
Every time that the ALT tag is empty, that is an error. And search engines look for that ALT tag, so it can be important.
Now on the flip side of that, there are also “SEO experts” that will fill those ALT tags with a bunch of spammy SEO stuff. That’s not any good today either, so don’t do that.
(Watch the video to learn how to get to the ALT area for your images in WordPress).
ALT tags tell people what an image is about. For instance, let’s say a blind person is on the web. And yes, blind people use the web, that’s the whole point for ALT tags in the first place. It was designed for blind people, or people that don’t have images turned on.
Back when the internet was slower, you had the option to turn images off when you wanted to. So, when the image popped up, it would just be this little square box with nothing in it (or you’d see the broken image icon), you’d have no idea what the image was about. So, the ALT tag would be text that would show up telling what the image was about.
That is, unless it’s some spammy marketer got ahold of it and filled that ALT tag with a bunch of spammy marketing stuff (which I actually used to do myself, so I can’t say too much about it. But I don’t do that anymore, haven’t in years).
You don’t want to do that now. It used to help a lot, but now the search engines will catch on to what you are doing if it’s too spammy.
First, login to WordPress. From your dashboard, on the left side, go to media and click media library.
This is where all of your images, videos, and audios are. Pick any image (not a video or audio). Once you do that, you should see options on the right side. You’ll see a spot where it says “alternative text.” That is where you would fill for your ALT tag. The title, description, etc. should stay empty unless you are sure of what you are doing.
Search engines look for that alternative text also, it’s not just for blind people; It is a searchable area on your website, so you can use it for SEO purposes.
But again, you don’t want to be spammy with it.
So if let’s say you have WordPress. Maybe you are using SquarePages, Wix or something else. There’s still a way of finding that ALT text in an image, you just need to look for it or do a search and find out how to fill that in.
But remember, If you don’t fill out the ALT text area, it’s an error according to the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), which Google and Bing and Yahoo then count as an error as well (remember, go to www.tysfreebook.com to see if your web site has errors).
It’s not an error that stops them from indexing your site, but every error is a bad thing, so you want to put in the ALT text.
In the video I used an image of the Pioneer Farm Museum sign. I would probably put “pioneer farm museum sign” or something like that. I might even put “pioneer farm museum in Eatonville sign,” you get the idea (and capitalization doesn’t matter here).
I can use some SEO keywords like: Pioneer farm Museum, Eatonville, Washington… things like that. And you can use those in the ALT text without it being spammy. You don’t just want to fill it full of spammy stuff.
For instance, let’s say you’re an architect in Portland. You don’t want to say “Portland architect, Portland, architectural Portland firm, architecting…” whatever it might be, you don’t want to fill it with all that, actually talk about what the image is.
You can use some SEO or some marketing keywords for it but limit them.
So the search engines do look at this. It’s nowhere near as important as the text on the actual page, but it is definitely important to someone who might be blind, seeing impaired or for people that maybe even still have images turned off so they don’t see them when they pull up the web page. So always make sure that you have the alternative text for every image on your website filled out. Have at least a few words, that’s fine.
Figure out some good alternative text. Again, like I said, it’s searchable, so it is does have some weight to it. Not as much as the visible text on your website, but a little bit.
– Dr. Ty Belknap, CEO, Port Bell SEO
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