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Accessibility: Alt Tag for Every Image?

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Dear Kalena…

Your newsletter reply to one visitor included: "I would also avoid using more than 2 or 3 alt tags on a single page if you can help it." I designed and manage a site for a visually impaired friend who writes children’s books: www.gate.net/~labooks/francesindex.html

Especially for her site, I notice how her text reader (JAWS) handles the page. It was my impression that I should have an alt tag for every image so a text reader could let visually impaired visitors know what was there. I wasn’t really thinking about what the search engines want. What should I do about this?

You also mentioned using only 3 or 4 words in the tag. On my site, the picture is often a book cover. For example, I have put in the tag: "Click cover to order The Buggy That Boogied Away." Should that be changed to "Click cover to order" or to an abbreviated form of the title? (Some titles are longer than this one.) Again, I’m thinking about text readers such as JAWS rather than search engines.

Thanks
Betsy

Kalena’s Answer:

Dear Betsy

Don’t worry about a thing. When you say "I wasn’t really thinking about what the search engines want", you’re right on the money. You were thinking primarily about the user and they are THE most important consideration when it comes to designing a web site.

It’s perfectly fine to add an alt img tag to every image if you are doing it primarily for accessibility purposes. My prior post was really aimed at persons wanting to add alt tags primarily for search engines. As long as the alt tags are not excessively stuffed with keywords, it shouldn’t be a problem to include longer ones, especially where it makes sense to do so, such as the use of full book titles.

Do whatever makes the most sense for the user and you should be fine.

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Accessibility: Alt Tag for Every Image?
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About Kalena Jordan
Kalena Jordan was one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia and New Zealand and is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. Kalena was one of the founders of http://www.SearchEngineCollege.com and is currently Director of Studies and SEO tutor for the online training institution. Kalena is a member of SEO Consultants and has spoken at the popular Search Engine Strategies Conferences. She is also a moderator at the Search Engine Watch Forums and author of the popular Search Light newsletter. WebProNews Writer
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