Feb 12

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Why use an ALT tag on your WordPress website pictures?

WordPress website pictures should have ALT tags

When you add pictures to your WordPress website, or any website in general, you should add ALT tags. An ALT tag, as defined by Wikipedia, is, “…used in HTML and XHTML documents to specify alternative text (alt text) that is to be rendered when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. It is also used by ‘screen reader’ software so that a person who is listening to the content of a webpage (for instance, a person who is blind) can interact with this element. In HTML 4.01, the attribute is required for the img and area tags.” See for the full definition. I use ALT tags because:

  • They appear if the picture takes a long time to download
  • They come into play if the visitor is blind
  • They are SEO friendly

Slow Internet speed

Suppose you are viewing a WordPress website that has a large picture. Your Internet speed is very slow. Your computer needs more than 10 seconds to download (render) the picture fully. You could end up looking at a blank square while the picture downloads. If the webmaster used an ALT tag for the picture, you would read the ALT tag text while waiting for the picture. The text will be raw. However, presenting this text will look better than having just a blank square.

Screen Readers and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ALT tag also works for screen readers. People who are vision-impaired can get a screen reader that will read whatever is on the screen. This is not new technology. I saw this back in the 1990s, when I worked for a large law firm in downtown Chicago.  You move the mouse pointer over some text and a computer voice “reads” the text for you. If you move the mouse over a picture with an ALT tag, the computer voice recites the ALT tag. If the picture does not have an ALT tag, the computer will not know what to say. An ALT tag is required on government websites, according to

SEO friendly

ALT tags are SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. Google and other web spiders cannot see pictures like people can. They do, however, see titles, descriptions and ALT tags. If you have an ALT tag that corresponds with your article content, the tag will improve your article’s SEO friendliness. The WordPress website editor lets you add and edit ALT tags on pictures.

For example, suppose a web page on WordPress websites has a picture of me. The web spiders find my picture but do nothing with it. Suppose I proofread the page and realize I did not use an ALT tag. I add an ALT tag to my picture. The ALT tag reads, “Mark Anthony Germanos says you can update WordPress websites quickly and easily.” That will help the page’s SEO friendliness because the web spiders found WordPress websites in the ALT tag.

Next time you add a picture to a WordPress website, make sure you add an ALT tag. It will help those on a slow Internet connection and those who cannot see. It will also help your page become more prominent in search results.


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