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What is ALT Text? – & Why You Need It

People love images in blogs and social media posts. They love them so much that images are a ranking signal for search engines and strategic use of relevant images on your website and blog can help you rank higher. But Google and other search engines can’t see pictures. ALT tags – or alternative text – describe the image to search engines.

According to Title III of the ADA (American Disabilities Act), companies cannot discriminate against disabled people “in the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations.” In the last year, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against galleries, hotels, universities, restaurants and other businesses because their websites are not compliant with ADA guidelines.

6 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Use ALT Text on Images 

  1. Accurate ALT tags help search engines understand what your website page, blog or social media post is about. 
  2. Relevant ALT tags are search signals that impact your rank 
  3. ALT text helps people who can’t see your images in Search, which helps your SEO accessibility rank. 
  4. ALT tags make your images discoverable in image search.
  5. If an image fails to load, the ALT text displays in place of the image. 
  6. ALT text on images is required under ADA to make the internet accessible to the visually impaired. Screen readers allow the visually impaired to hear the ALT text on images. 

ALT tags are an important content writing SEO strategy so your images can be understood by people and search engines. Content management systems such as WordPress have long provided a way to add ALT text to images, and recently Instagram and LinkedIn have added the ability to add ALT tags to photos posted on their sites. 

Tip: If your blog or website is set up on WordPress, you can select the image Edit option and enter the alternate text in the Alternative Text box.

Where to add ALT text in WordPress: What are ALT Tags? - And Why You Need Them | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media
The ALT text for the featured image on this blog post is: Laptop on Desk: What is ALT Text? - And Why You Need It | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media

How to Add ALT Tags to Instagram Images

You can add ALT text to Instagram images when you upload them or add them later to images that are already live.

5 Steps to Add Alternative Text to New Instagram Images

  1. Upload an image on Instagram
  2. Select Advanced Settings
  3. Select Write Alt Text
  4. Add your description of the image
  5. Select Save
Instagram ALT Text | What is ALT Text? - And Why You Need It | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media

5 Steps to Add ALT tags to Previously Posted Instagram Images

  1. Select an old post
  2. Tap the 3 dots in the upper right corner
  3. Select Edit
  4. Hover over the bottom right corner of the image
  5. Select Edit Alt Text
  6. Select Save
Instagram and LinkedIn Alternative Text | What is Alternative Text? - And Why You Need It | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media

How to Add ALT Text to LinkedIn Images

6 Steps to Add Alternative Text to LinkedIn Images

  1. Start a post on LinkedIn
  2. Select the image icon
  3. Upload the image you want to add to your post
  4. Click the pencil icon that says Add alt text
  5. Add up to 120 characters that describe your image
  6. Select Save
LinkedIn ALT Text | What is ALT Text? - And Why You Need It | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media
LinkedIn ALT tags | What are ALT tags? - And Why You Need It | Amanda MacMaster | MacManda Media

Best Practices for Writing ALT Text

Add ALT text using keywords to all your website, blog and social media images so search engines can understand and use your images to rank your blog posts, and you are compliant with ADA rules so the visually impaired can read your images.

  1.  Keep Alternative Text below 125 characters
  2. Describe what is in the image
  3. Include relevant keywords
  4. Use key hashtags
  5. Add emojis if they add to the message
  6. Use your brand name or branded hashtags

Small business owners can be ADA compliant and SEO optimized by adding strategic ALT text to all images on your website, blog and social media posts.

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