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Accessibility Meets Search Engine Optimization: 5 Powerful Alt Text Examples for Images

Person looking at a laptop screen with text on a blue background: Accessibility Meets Search Engine Optimization: 5 Powerful Alt Text Examples for Images.

In the world of digital marketing, visibility is crucial — in more ways than one. Today I’ll show you alt text examples to help you make your images a powerhouse combination of web accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO).

But first — what is alt text? It’s a text description of an image which aids accessibility for the visually impaired. But it’s so much more than that …

Effective alt text can lead to better visibility in image search results, potentially increasing website traffic.

This article will demystify alt text — guiding you through why it matters, how to write it, and how to integrate it into your digital marketing strategy.

And the best part? When you follow image alt text best practices, you’ll be complaint with legal standards and enhance your user experience.

Why alt text matters

Alt text helps paint a picture with words when images are out of sight, whether due to a disability, technical glitch, or a slow internet connection.

But it’s not just a nice-to-have element on your website, social media channels, or downloadable PDFs; it’s a critical piece of a more inclusive web, ensuring everyone can consume your carefully-crafted content marketing.

And here’s a bonus for business owners: in addition to accessibility, alt text can bolster your SEO.

By describing your images, you’re providing search engines context for your images. You help Google understand and rank your content better.

But this isn’t just about adhering to image alt text best practices — it’s about embracing a strategic approach to improve user experience as well as website performance.

Plus, with increasing legal scrutiny on accessibility, skimping on alt text can land businesses in legal hot water.

Now let’s see how alt text fits into your business and your content marketing strategy — and how this simple practice and generate an impressive return on your investment.

Image alt text best practices

To create alt text that is both informative for site visitors and SEO-friendly, let’s look at some core guidelines. Here are seven best practices to follow when writing alt text:

  1. Be descriptive and concise: Aim for precision and clarity in your alt text. Just as a great image allows your audience to absorb meaning at a glance, alt text should be easy to understand quickly.
  2. Consider the image context: Think about how the image contributes to the page content and tailor the alt text to work seamlessly with the surrounding information.
  3. Use keywords wisely: Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into the alt text to improve SEO, but avoid keyword stuffing, which can negatively impact readability and search engine rankings.
  4. Treat decorative images appropriately: If an image is purely decorative and doesn’t add informational value, use an empty alt attribute (alt=””) to avoid distracting screen reader users.
  5. Provide detailed descriptions for complex images: For images that convey a large amount of information, like infographics or charts, make sure the alt text summarizes the critical data or insights. Consider including a longer description in a caption or link to a more extensive description.
  6. Test with screen readers: Image alt text best practices help you deliver the right user experience. Test your content with a screen readers. This helps you understand and meet the needs of users who rely on assistive technologies.
  7. Regularly review and update: Like any other any web content, alt text should be reviewed periodically to be sure it’s accurate, especially if the image content or context changes.

By implementing image alt text best practices, you can create more accessible — and engaging — web content that’s optimized for both users and search engines.

The big benefit: Optimizing your images is a smart way to keep your website working for you, 24/7, to help grow your audience.

A Black woman sitting at an office desk  holding a document, concentrating on a laptop screen

Alt text examples for accessibility

For website visitors who rely on assistive technologies like screen readers, alt text describes both the content and function of images on a web page or social post.

It’s not just about stating the obvious (“A person and a laptop”); it’s also about conveying the mood of the image, the action, and and how the image relates to your written content (“A Black woman sitting at an office desk holding a document, concentrating on a laptop screen with a smile on her face”).

When you use image alt text best practices, you enhance the user experience for a broader audience, and also build your reputation by demonstrating your commitment to accessibility.

Now let’s look at SEO, keeping one important thing in mind:

Optimizing alt text with relevant keywords — without falling into keyword stuffing — requires a careful balance.

Alt text example #1: WordPress makes it easy

Alt text should be short and to the point — and valuable to the reader.

In this example, the image helps introduce the next section of an article. WordPress makes it easy to add your alt text (outlined in red). Notice how the text that’s on the image is the same in the alt text:

"Graphic background showing a tree and text overlay: How to come up with content marketing ideas."
Screenshot from WordPress demonstrating alt text examples.

Alt text example #2: Convey meaning with a few words

Simple can be powerful. The alt text for the image below reads:

"Behind-the-scenes photo of a marketing team brainstorming visual content ideas for a new product launch campaign."

You don’t need a detailed description of every single thing in the image. The alt text gives site visitors good context so they can easily understand what’s going on.

You might be surprised at how proficient you’ll become with just a little practice. By making clarity, context, and customers your priority, your can integrate writing alt text seamlessly into your process.

Now let’s look at the other kind of site visitor that relies on alt text.

Behind-the-scenes photo of a marketing team brainstorming visual content ideas for a new product launch campaign.

Related: Free Stock Photos: My Favorite Resources Today

Related: Digital Marketing Images: 7 Simple Image Types You Should Try Today

How alt text helps boost your search ranking

Like screen readers, search engines rely on alt text to “see” images.

By providing context through your image descriptions, you’re optimizing your images for search engines, helping your site rank better in search results.

And don’t forget about image search. The Image tab often appears after the All results tab on search results. Well-crafted alt text can turn your images into traffic magnets, drawing users directly to your site.

Alt text keyword optimization: Enhance your content

Adding your keywords phrase into your alt text? Smart move — just don’t overdo it.

The key is to strike a balance. Use relevant keywords that enhance a user’s understanding without being spammy.

Think of it as enhancing your content. You want to include just enough to send the right signal to search engines.

In the HubSpot example below, you’ll see how the keyword fits well into the description and also flows naturally for anyone reading it.

Related: Writing Content for SEO: 6 Powerful Habits So Your Website Shows Up In Search Engines

Example #3: HubSpot

Site builders and other tools are built with alt text in mind.

Here’s HubSpot, where you simply click on an image and in the “Image Options” pop up menu, you can add alt text and modify link behavior.

Alt text example in HubSpot showing how alt text is added to images in the CRM.

Alt text examples of common errors

Focusing on image alt text best practices — writing short, precise descriptions — can dramatically improve both the user experience and a website’s SEO performance.

But plan ahead, especially when you implement alt text processes, so you can be confident you’re getting it right.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Ignoring alt text altogether: One of the most significant (and common) mistakes is neglecting to provide alt text for images, which affects both accessibility and SEO.
  2. Overuse of keywords (keyword stuffing): While it’s important to include relevant keywords in alt text for SEO purposes (which is why it’s also in the Best Practices list), overdoing it can lead to being penalized by search engines and create a negative user experience.
  3. Using “image of” or “picture of”: Starting alt text with phrases like “image of” or “picture of” is redundant. Screen readers already announce an image’s presence. This practice chews up character space without adding any value.
  4. Overly long descriptions: Alt text should be concise. Excessively long descriptions can overwhelm the user, particularly those using screen readers.
  5. Not differentiating between similar images: If your page contains multiple images with similar content, ensure your alt text offers a unique description to avoid confusion and increase understanding.

By avoiding these common errors, you can create more effective, inclusive, and SEO-friendly visual content on your website, social media channels, and PDFs you provide to customers.

Alt text example #4: Describing similar images

Pulling from item five in the list above, here are alt text examples for similar images. Careful use of alt text will make their meaning clear.

These illustrations are from my Content Pillar Example Strategy article. They illustrate my Content Topic Tree, which is a system for creating content that fits within a smart, sustainable content marketing strategy.

Each image introduces a section in the article, from introduction of the process to completion.

Elements that illustrate The Content Topic Tree: Trunk, Main Branches, Small Branches, Leaves, designed to help you create a content marketing strategy.

You’ll notice how the image of the completed Topic Content Tree at the top left is pretty similar to the Leaves image on the bottom right (the only difference is the text on the images), and Main Branches and Small Branches are similar as well.

This is where being concise comes into play: Unique alt text will make the differences in each image clear while putting the images in context.

So the alt text for The Content Topic Tree image reads:

"Illustration for our pillar content example - the Content Topic Tree."

And the alt text for the Leaves image:

"Illustration of Content Topic Tree with text: Leaves - Repurposed versions of individual content."

We’re not forgetting SEO! The keyword phrase in the article is “pillar content example.” You can see how that fits seamlessly into the alt text.

Pro tip: In a series of similar images, you can copy-paste the alt text from your first image and make simple edits as you complete the set.

It’s a quick and easy way to ensure your images meet best practices to assist users who rely on screen readers as well as boosting your SEO.

Related: 6 Quick and Effective Content Formatting Examples to Optimize Your Pages

Related: 5 Easy Steps to Create Stunning Content Marketing Images [Examples]

A slice of rainbow-colored cake is used to demonstrate how to generate alt text with Google's image alt text generator extension for Chrome.

Alt text tools and resources

There are tools that can make your work faster and easier. You can use an alt text generator for images like:

  • AHREFS free alt text generator
  • Google’s alt text generator Chrome extension
  • ChatGPT can suggest alt text based on uploaded images

An automated alt text generator for images combined with an accessibility checker can streamline the process of implementing alt text across all your digital assets.

But don’t rely on auto-generated alt text.

You’re writing for people, not machines — and machines can make mistakes. You should always do a thorough review of generated text of any kind to verify accuracy and relevance.

Alt text example #5: How an alt text generator for images works (and doesn’t)

Here are a couple of attempts made by the AHREFS alt text generator. The one on the right is pretty good:

"A woman wearing glasses stands with a unicorn against a blue background. The words 'passive income is a myth' are written on the background."

The first image, the one with the infographic? Our friendly AI seems a little… confused.

"A beautiful sunset over a calm ocean with vibrant orange and pink hues reflecting on the water."
Alt text examples using AI showing one failure (an infographic described inaccurately) and one success (a person standing next to a unicorn).

The algorithm looked at colors and shapes and did its best. But the complexity of the image requires a human to create the alt text.

When streamlinging your processes, be mindful of the limitations of the tools you use.

To reiterate from our list of best practices, when creating alt text for complex images like infographics or charts, consider including a longer description in a caption or link to a more extensive description.

Related: 3 Ways I Use AI for Faster Content Production

Legal considerations

There’s a legal side to alt text. Laws and guidelines are moving us toward a more accessible web — and with good reason. Providing all people access to information and services is important. It’s a human rights issue.

And be aware, the legal landscape surrounding web accessibility is complex and varies by jurisdiction.

In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) spells out federal requirements. The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) and EN 301549 in the European Union both set regulations for digital accessibility.

Non-compliant businesses have faced legal action. You might recognize a few names on this list: Nike, Domino’s Pizza, and Amazon.

Small businesses can be impacted just as easily as large corporations (and have a much smaller legal department to deal with any fallout). But it’s fairly straightforward to protect your business.

Familiarizing yourself with regulations and adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can help mitigate legal risks.

Wrapping up: Create a smart alt text strategy

An effective alt text strategy is more than just a compliance issue — it’s smart content marketing.

By using image alt text best practices and steering clear of common mistakes, you can enhance your website’s usability, search engine ranking, and legal compliance.

  • Be clear and concise
  • Keep context in mind
  • Write for people first

So the next time you upload an image, follow WCAG guidelines and use these alt text examples to help guide you.

At first glance, alt text may seem like a small detail. But it’s powerful. And it brings multiple benefits:

  • Accessibility: Alt text best practices make your site available to people who rely on screen readers
  • SEO: Smart use of alt text raises your position in search results
  • Website traffic: More website visitors means a boost in search ranking
  • Legal compliance: Alt text is a simple way to protect you against potentially costly litigation
  • Audience growth: The more relevant — and accessible — your site is, the more people will explore working with you

As a business leader, integrating thoughtful alt text practices into your content marketing strategy is critical for creating an inclusive — and exceptional — online experience.

Stacey Cornelius

Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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