Let’s start this section by describing what an image alternate (alt) tag is before going into its purpose.
When the Internet was in its early stages everything on the web was text because connection speeds were limited. As technology improved so did web pages. At that point more and more sites began to use images on their web pages. Unfortunately, many users still had slow dial up connections.
Since some web visitors had these slower connections they would turn off the ability for images to load in their web browser so that web pages would load more quickly. That’s where the alternative tags (alt tags) come into play.
A website owner would add a tag to their web page code for the image to display some descriptive text as an alternative to the image itself, so that if the images were turned off the web page still made sense to the reader.
Today, some website owners still add alt text to their pages, but for a different reason. The alt text is more of a compliment to the image rather than an alternative.
With today’s technology, when you hover your mouse over an object without clicking the alt text will be displayed as a small text box floating over the image in most browsers.
Most people just add an image descriptor. There isn’t anything wrong with doing this, but what many people forget to do for its marketing value is add keywords to the alt tag.
Why is this important? Keywords are buzzwords that visitors use in search engines to find your site. What many website owners don’t realize is that the search engines read your alt tags too.
So, the alt tag is forgotten real estate many marketers forget about that could attract additional visitors to their site.
It doesn’t take an experienced web programmer to add an alt tag to your web page images.
By adding the alt tag you add another mention of one of your keyword phrases (in this example, “web resources”) to your page, therefore improving your chances of higher search engine rankings.
Editor’s Note: This post is pulled from Bret Ridgway and Frank Deardurff’s book “50 Biggest Website Mistakes,” available at http://50BiggestWebsiteMistakes.com.