What is the Image Alt Tag? SEO or Accessibility?

What is the ALT Tag?

Image Alt tags are misunderstood and can be confusing how different developers use it.

First of all the Image Alt tag also know as the Alternative Text Tag,  was created purely for accessibility reasons such as screen readers who will be read the alt tag aloud.   If an image cannot be displayed the user will be given the Alt text instead.

What about SEO?

Google does use the alt tag as a way to rank images.   That being said it does not help if you load keywords in to an alt tag because it is not beneficial to screen readers anymore.   It is better practice to describe the image in the best way for screen readers and if you can put in keywords that make sense then you should place them in the beginning when possible. Consider the following.

BAD = alt=”Mountain, Mount Hood, Mt Hood, Oregon, Sunrise, Sunset, Pink Sky”

GOOD  alt=”Mountain”

BETTER  alt=”Mount Hood Oregon”

BEST  alt=”Mount Hood Oregon Pink Sky Sunrise”

Can Alt Tag be used for Image Credits?

Another option that used to be used frequently but has since been abandoned due to bad SEO is

alt=”Mount Hood Oregon Pink Sky Sunrise, Photo Credit: Elise Strasser”

This is not good practice since it is in the Alt tag only screen readers will read it.  Standard users will never see it.  The photographer should get credit clearly shown on the page the photo is shown. Either on each image or with a catch all at the bottom of each page as to who the photographer is for each image on the page.