Making the World More Understandable
What Is the Point of Alternative Text?

What Is the Point of Alternative Text?

Honestly, I have very little clue as to what makes alternative text is so important. However, the clue I do have is enough to make me enter some for my blog post and newsletter pictures.

Alternative Text?

If you post photos on your website or include them in your newsletter, it is very likely that you’ve been asked to provide alternative text (or alt text) in the file properties. It took me a long time to even care about those fields, and even longer to start filling them in.

Alas, they do have a point.

My Clue

So, here’s what I know:

Part 1:

The alternative text is what shows in email newsletters if the reader does not download the images.

Part 2:

Alternative text gives search engines something more to look at when deciding if you are worthy of being a result, let alone have a page one slot.

Photos themselves are not searchable, so attaching text to them gives you a leg up in the search results. Also, giving your image files relevant names helps.

What’s Relevant?

Good question. As this is not a philosophical debate, we’ll stick to text and file names.

Presumably, whatever content you are putting online has a point. If you (or your SEO master) are appropriately skilled, you’ve optimized your content with keywords and such. A relevant file name includes a keyword. Relevant alternative text also includes keywords while providing a coherent – and maybe attention-grabbing – description of the image.

This gives the search engines something more to look at when examining your content. The more hits you have within a post that matches a search, the better your standing will be.


I am not an SEO specialist. My knowledge is amazingly general, I strongly encourage anyone to seek professional help for improving their internet standing.

Why Attention-Grabbing?

Here’s the fun part. If you put something exciting, interesting, or intriguing in the alternate text, people who do not download email images automatically are more likely to download yours to see if the image holds up to the promise of the text. And that’s good because, as I explained in my last post, downloaded images is how email senders like MailChimp know that your email was opened.

If you don’t add alternative text, or you put something like. “interesting image here,” you are not as likely to inspire your readers to download the images and sending a message back to the analytics department to flag the email as opened.

Is There Value to Alternative Text?

Why provide alternative textSome would argue that if there wasn’t value, then there wouldn’t be an option to add it. Those people would have a valid point.

If there is a tool to help people find your content over all the rest of what is out there, I say use it to the best of your ability. The downside is that, at some point, everyone will be using it. Then you are no longer ahead of the pack; instead, you’re doing your best to keep up with the Joneses.

And if I try to follow this point much further, I’m going to end up ranting about what a miserable hell hole the internet is – and I don’t really feel that way.

At least not about the actual internet.

– Lorrie Nicoles

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