Alt Text Best Practice

Last Update: October 05, 2019

So, what is alt text, and are you remembering to add it to your images?

When you add an image to WordPress, you can assign it 'alt text'. This is a simple description of the media file, and usually takes the form of a short sentence.

The original purpose of image alt text was accessibility. It was created so that guests to your site with any visual impairment (that is, those people who cannot actually see the images in your content) still have some way of knowing what they are.

Why is it important?

Google and other search engines have been taking advantage of the information presented by alt text for a long time. Their bots pay attention to the text of each alt tag, using it to gain a deeper understanding of your content.

Importantly, it helps with your SEO, as you can add your keywords to it!

Alt text best practice

  • Use a full sentence, rather than a word or short phrase. This provides human and bot visitors alike with more information.
  • Be as descriptive as possible, clearly explaining what the image contains.
  • Include keywords in your alt tags. Keywords are essential to any healthy SEO strategy, and this is yet another place to incorporate them. If you have a primary keyword for your content, you'll want to use it in alt text whenever it makes sense to do so. For images of products in particular, including the item's name and the product ID is also a smart idea.

Examples of what to do and what not to do

Let's say you have added an image of a kitten, what can you add as your alt text?

You could leave it blank with no alt text - bad idea!

You could keyword stuff it, e.g. kitten, cat, baby cat, kitty, kittens litter, Siamese, cheap cat food - bad idea!

You could have a simple basic description, e.g. kitten - better, but not the best practice!

So, finally - a proper descriptive sentence, e.g. Siamese kitten enjoying her kitty-katty tuna fish - now we got it!

Where do I find my alt text?

If you are not sure where your alt text is, simply login to WordPress and go to your media library. Select one of your images and a box will pop up which includes the alt text field.

Now, as far as I am aware, it shouldn't harm your ranking if you choose to add or amend the alt text after your post is published. If anybody knows different, please add your comments below.

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CandP Premium
Very helpful, Diane, thank you.
One question. We read the other day (can't remember where but likely here at WA) that you should keep the alt text as short as possible because otherwise, it can have an adverse effect on your site speed. Have you ever heard anything about that and what do you think?
Colette and Philip
DianeScorpio Premium
Hi guys - good question! After some digging, this is what I have found.

"Keeping your alt text short keeps your pages smaller, and smaller pages download faster. A good rule of thumb for alt text is to keep it between 5 and 15 words total."

15 words are quite a lot actually and should be able to accommodate a keyword.

(The above sentence is 15 words, so now you have a visual as to how much you can add).
CandP Premium
Thanks for checking that.
Fleeky Premium
Thank you
Marked as top
LesleyAnnH Premium
Thank you Diane. This post is very helpful.
HeidiAnders3 Premium
Thank you!
Fredeim88 Premium
Thanks for this blog. I had no idea! I have always skipped this part. But thats for sure going to change.