Alternate Text Field for an Image – SO THAT’S WHAT IT DOES!

Again I’m learning things about WordPress as I work through my course.  I’m the geezer of the group by age and with the oldest blog.  So assignments that are related to doing things on our personal blog are much time intensive for me than others.  That’s okay I’m there to learn to do it right and correcting all my posts is part of the upgrade process.

I’d say we’re all familiar with the pop-up image menu that happens when you place an image in your post.  Here I’ll just grab a random image in my WordPress Media Library:

Shows WordPress Image menu with all the fields

I don’t know about you but I’ve always wondered just what Alternate Text and Description do. I know Title is what pops up when a mouse hovers over the image in a post.  I know caption shows beneath it when posted.  I didn’t know what the other two fields did.  Now I do.

Description is for the back-end of the blog administrator’s information.  It tells them more about the image.  You can use it to note title of posts that use the image, more about the image than contained in the other fields, or whatever you want.

However Alternate Text is another beast all together.  I’ve almost always left it empty until I learned its function.  There are three reasons it should be filled in:

  1. It is the descriptive text used by screen reading programs used by the visually impaired.  There are special programs for the visually impaired to aid their using the internet this field is picked up by those programs and read to the person.  It is intended to describe the image to them or provide more information than just the short title.
  2. This is one of the two fields search engines use to index images on a website.  Search engines pick up this and the title field to index an image.  Proper use of the Alternate Text field can increase the number of hits to your post.
  3. This displays in some countries when the user opts to turn off images.  Say you are somewhere you have a slow connection you may opt to turn off images then this text displays for the same reason the visually impaired screen readers look for it – it further describes the image to someone who doesn’t see it.

Our assignment was to go through all our images contained in our post and ensure the Alternate Text field was completed.  For me that was over 108 posts with many images in each post.  I did it.  It took three days but I did get some description contained in the field that added to the title.  Not as much as I would like given the first reason up there.  But there are limits on my time and I figured something was better than nothing. I vowed to pay more attention to the field going forward.  I’ll try to give a description for the visually impaired of what the image contains.  I don’t know if it applies to any of my readers but if anyone needs it I want it to be complete.  Sure the search engine indexing is nice but to me the real reason to do a good job there is to provide a good experience for all my readers not just those with good eye sight.

With that assignment  completed I’m starting my three-day weekend.  We are going car shopping.  Then we’ll find things to do around here and I’ll make pictures to share.  Have a great one folks!  Until next time!

5 thoughts on “Alternate Text Field for an Image – SO THAT’S WHAT IT DOES!

  1. Pingback: Search Engine Optimization and Key Words « Mary Louise Eklund

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