Images on your website, Are they lost or found?
December 17, 2009
The images on your website are handled differently than the images on social networking sites. Generally speaking, most artists' websites are all about images.
People come to an artist's site to see images. Most images will have a title and description, but in addition, it is very important to use your "ALT image" tag to describe the image.
What is an "ALT image" tag?
Originally, the purpose was to help visually impaired people to read about an image on the Internet. It was mandated by ADA (American Disability Act). With a text reading software application, the text reader describes the image based on what is written in the "ALT image" tag.
Your website images will function perfectly well without "ALT image" tags, but in recent years, search engines have started using "ALT image" tags for another purpose - search.
Search engines review the entire site for information that better indicates or confirms that the website is credible. The duplication of the text that is visible on your web page (i.e. a title and/or description) and in the "ALT image" tag raises your ranking - and this is what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about.
The "ALT image" tags are also used in a Google IMAGE Search. In other words, since search engines can't see an image, the "ALT image" tag provides search engines with a text representation of your graphics.
The more images on your website, the more important your "ALT image" tags become. Another good reason to write an "ALT image" tag for every photo.
Here is Google Webmasters video about ALT tags.
"Matt Cutts Discusses the Importance of alt Tags"
Where is my "ALT image"?
The "ALT image" tag is in the HTML code for your web page. It is not normally visible to the viewer but this is what search engines actually read. You can see the HTML or XHTML for any website by going to the toolbar at the top of the page. CLICK on VIEW > Page Source. There it is!
If you are using Dreamweaver to construct your website, when you insert an image into a page, there will be a prompt to write a description of your image. This is your "ALT image" tag.
What should you write?
It should be a short accurate description.
How long should it be?
I wish I knew the exact answer. My reasonable answer is to put the most pertinent information, without exaggeration, and all the while thinking about what a person would be looking for when they want that particular image.
Bar Code Identity Necklace © 2007
Harriete Estel Berman
plastic, vintage beads, recycled tin
cans, brass, magnet.
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
For example, I usually include my name in the "ALT tag" and a brief description. Here is the "ALTtag" for this image.
alt="Bar Code Identity Necklace Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman."
NOTE how the title on the website repeats the "ALT tag."
During the holidays when business is slow, go back and write titles, tags, descriptions, and "ALT tags," for all your images.
This post was updated on January 8, 2022.