You understand the importance of including colorful, eye-catching images on your blog posts. But do you know why you should go to the extra effort to add alt and title tags, or attributes, to the image tag? These attributes provide important, additional information about your image in plain text format.
The alt attribute gives information about what happens if you click the image, if it’s a hyperlink. It’s purpose is to make web pages with images more accessible to people who have visual impairments. Imagine you have trouble seeing the screen clearly, and you rely on a screen reader program to help you use your PC and navigate the Internet. What would you want it to say, out loud, to let you know that there’s an image and what it is there for? Use the alt tag to describe the purpose, content, and function of the image.
The title attribute creates the “tooltip text,” a little pop-up box containing additional information about the image. Depending on the screen reader program, the title attribute may or may not be read aloud (it usually is, if the alt attribute is not present). You should always use the alt tag; the title tag is optional, but for variety’s sake, should contain slightly different information if both are used.
Here’s the syntax (you’ll have to edit this in HTML; if you use WordPress, click the Text tab):
<img src=”http://<image file name>” alt=”<describe what info the image contains, what happens if you click it>” title=”<tooltip text – description that pops up when you hover a cursor over it>” width=”<pixels>” height=”<pixels>” />
where <everything between angled brackets> is a variable, and <pixels> is a number of pixels designating height and width of the image.
If you use WordPress and you’ve neglected to add alt and title tags in the past, you can quickly “fix” the problem using a plug-in called SEO Image Tags. While not as good as hand-crafted, more meaningful alt tags, this lightweight utility simply ensures that all of your images an alt tag that corresponds to the image file name or the link destination, if the image is a clickable link. This helps both visually challenged readers and search engines.