fbpx
Unleash the Power of Alt Text: What is it and why it matters for accessibility and SEO

Unleash the Power of Alt Text: What is it and why it matters for accessibility and SEO

Ready to take your website and social media game to the next level?
Well, buckle up baby, because I’m about to spill the tea on why using alt text for your images is the secret sauce you didn’t know you needed. Move over, avocado toast – alt text is the real MVP!
[pac_divi_table_of_contents opened_icon=”P||divi||400″ closed_icon=”O||divi||400″ included_headings=”on|on|on|off|off|off” level_markers_1=”icons” icon_marker_1=”=||divi||400″ level_markers_2=”icons” icon_marker_2=”I||divi||400″ level_markers_3=”icons” icon_marker_3=”E||divi||400″ title_container_bg_color=”#F9B5AD” admin_label=”TOC” _builder_version=”4.23.4″ _module_preset=”default” title_text_color=”#2C4671″ global_colors_info=”{}”][/pac_divi_table_of_contents]

What is alt text?

Alt text, short for alternative text, describes an image on a page within the on a website or social media platform. Its primary purpose is to provide a textual representation of the image content for individuals with visual impairments who use screen readers. Alt text serves as a crucial accessibility feature, allowing everyone, regardless of their abilities, to comprehend and engage with the visual elements of a digital platform. Beyond its accessibility benefits, alt text also plays a key role in enhancing search engine optimization (SEO) by providing search engines with valuable information about the image, contributing to better rankings and increased visibility. Essentially, alt text is the unsung hero that makes digital content more inclusive and search engine-friendly.

Alt text is using the alt attribute in an image’s HTML code.

Example:
<img src=”file-name-example.jpg” alt=“Alt description goes here”>

If that line of code up there looks a bit scary, don’t worry! Most CMS systems, like WordPress, have a built in section where you can add these descriptions without needing to know code.

1. Website Alt Text

Here’s an example from my WordPress Media Library:
A screenshot of the WordPress backend, there's a box around the section where you can enter in alt textIf you’re not using WordPress you may have to look around for it, or check a help doc but most major platforms have sections to include alt text these days.

2. Social Media Alt Tags

You can and should use alt tags on you social media posts. These settings are a little harder to find and each platform has them in a different place but I strongly encourage to you to find out where the settings are and start using them!
Screenshots from IG showing where alt tags can be added

Why is alt text important

Alt text is important because it makes images accessible to everyone, even if they don’t load on you page.

1. Make Your Content Inclusive

Alt text isn’t just a fancy term – it’s your golden ticket to inclusivity. Imagine a world where everyone can enjoy your content, regardless of their abilities. Alt text is like a superhero cape for your images, making them accessible to everyone, including those using screen readers. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero, right?

2. Boost Your SEO

Let’s talk about being Google’s BFF. Alt text is like the secret handshake that tells search engines what your images are all about. It’s the key to unlocking higher rankings and driving more traffic to your site. So, if you want your website to be the Beyoncé of search results, alt text is your Destiny’s Child.

Consider what happens when you do a Google image search. Let’s say you’re looking for Mountain Cur puppies (because they are the best puppies so you should be looking for one!) so you type that into google. The images that show up here are because of SEO using on the page and in alt tags. Imagine the traffic you could drive if your images match your services and products!

Google image results page for

Code inspector view to outline how alt tags work

Alt Text Best Practices

Alt text isn’t needed on every single image you share, there are some tips below to make sure you’re adding alt text to the right kinds of images

1. What Images Don’t Need Alt Text?

Decorative Images
Alt text isn’t necessary for decorative images. If your image serves no real purpose other than aesthetics, it’s okay to leave the alt text field empty. Adding alt text to these images can actually be a hinderance to those using screen readers, making their experience clunky and awkward.

Complex Charts and Graphs
Alt text is a wordsmith, not a mathematician. For complex charts and graphs, consider providing a summary in the content instead. Your audience will appreciate clarity over a data dump.

Spacers and Tiny Icons
Skip the alt text for these minuscule players – they won’t be missed.

2. How to use alt tags on the correct images

  • Images of text – those quote graphics or screenshots of text need alt text! Screen readers cannot read the image itself.
  • Icons that denote functionality (e.g., shopping cart icons)
  • Charts that illustrate otherwise unmentioned data
  • Info graphics or other how-to images
  • Images of people, places, and things!

Alt Text Examples

A sample of image and alt text from the Detroit Disability power.

In this example from the Detroit Disability power homepage, they’ve included their descriptive text right next to the image, which is always an alternative to adding this description to the alt text section. But take note of how their describe this image. This is an organization by disabled people, for disabled people, so the way they have done this is an excellent example to model.

The next example is from Nina Tame, one of my favorite IG people to follow and a fierce disability advocate. Nina does an amazing job of always including her image descriptions and she adds them right below her caption, or if her caption is too long, she puts them in a pinned comment of that post.

Yes, adding alt text takes more time and slightly more effort but it really does open the internet to everyone, every where. I encourage you to add it to what you’re doing and put in the effort moving forward.

Evolve your marketing from scattershot to system | Jottful Podcast

Evolve your marketing from scattershot to system | Jottful Podcast

 

Show Notes:

Jackie Zimmerman is the Queen of Getting Shit Done.

On an average day, you can find her designing and launching digital content for entrepreneurs, advocating for women-owned businesses, and generally helping everyone around her increase their productivity by about five hundred percent. She specializes in creating captivating web design, guiding online course creation, and implementing time-saving productivity systems.

As an expert in turning lemons into lemonade, Jackie has channeled two chronic illness diagnoses into a side career in patient advocacy. She founded a nonprofit community for women with IBD and/or ostomies called Girls with Guts, and her patient advocacy game is so strong she’s written eBooks, advocated in Washington, given keynote speeches and launched various platforms to support patient care.

Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Jackie knows how to convert creative energy into successful ventures, and she is passionate about inspiring small business owners to dream big. She is especially invested in helping women demand their worth and dominate their field; as such, she created The GSD Collective, a virtual rolodex of powerful women and women-run organizations which she can personally recommend.

Jackie is also a Jottful Community member.

Never Lose Your Domain!

Never Lose Your Domain!

I’ve got a short story to tell you…

Check out this snapshot from 2011. Web design has come along way!In late 2006, I graduated from undergrad and I was ready to be a real grownup with a real job. At this time I purchased JackieZimmerman.com so I could build a portfolio site and get a job in marketing. I knew I’d need to share my design work online in order to be considered so I bought the domain and started the job hunt.

I got my first “real” job in early 2007. I let JackieZimmerman.com fall to the way side. Fast forward a few years and it’s 2011 and I’m in grad school. I’m ready for the job hunt again, so I revive JackieZimmerman.com and by the time I finish grad school in 2012, I’ve got my next job lined up, the website had done it’s job and I let it fall to the way side again. This time I made a huge mistake. I let the domain go because I thought “I’ll never need a portfolio site again! I’ll never need another job again! I’m so brilliant with my young 20-something knowledge!”. I didn’t renew the domain and it was sold in a bulk auction. This was a decision I would come to regret for the next ELEVEN YEARS.

A screenshot from the WaybackMachine, that has the text The Design Portfolio of JackieZimmerman coming soon with a thick green border.

Check out this snap shot from 2011. Web design has changed a lot sine then.

As time passed, I realized there were still applications in which I could use that domain, primarily in the health advocacy work I do. I tried to get the domain back but now instead of the usual $12/year, JackieZimmerman.com was going for $750. No way. Never in a million years would I pay that much so I bought an alternative domain, JackieZimmerman.co. Throughout the years I would check in on the domain, at one point it was up to $1,500. Every once in a while I’d reach out to the existing holder and low ball them with an offer but they never went for it. I had all but given up on it.

Earlier this week I got an email from a domain seller, which I totally thought was spam. They said they would sell the domain for $200. I knew this was close to the cheapest I’d ever see it…but it’s still wildly inflated so I counter offered for $150. I was shocked to see they accepted my offer…but I still thought it was a scam. So before I paid them a dime, we used Escrow.com to broker the purchase. I wanted protections on my $150 in the event that it was, in fact, a scam. Today they seller shared the Transfer Code (which you need to transfer a domain from one owner or host to another). I put the code in and the transfer failed. I was SURE it was scam. I tried the transfer with another registrar, and sure as shit…it worked. It went through. After 11 long years of waiting and enough sarcastic doubt to fill a yacht… I owned JackieZimmerman.com again.

So that’s the story. It may not seem like a big deal but I never, ever thought I’d get that back again. Which leads me to the actual info I wanted to share here, which is why you NEVER sell/not renew a domain unless you are CERTAIN you will never want it again.

What happens after I don’t renew my domain

Most often abandoned domains are purchased in bulk by domain squatters. These companies buy your domain and they sit on it and sometimes you might go to them to try to buy it back and they will skyrocket the price because now you have created demand.

Sometimes when I would check in on JackieZimmerman.com the price would be around $750. If I checked it again within a few days it would be over $1,000. So they know when you’re searching online for that domain and they are adjusting the pricing accordingly.

How can I find out who owns my domain now?

You can use a service called WHOIS to look up registration info on your site. Back in the old days this was nice because you could reach out the person who owned it and try to broker a deal directly. However now, with privacy concerns, most of us buy domain privacy which hides our personal info from the world wide web. This means its harder to contact domain owners, and sometimes it’s impossible. If a domain squatter has your domain after buying in bulk, you can reach out to them with the email address you find in the info listed. They may or may not respond but they will always inflate the price.

How can I get my domain it back?

The short answer is you can’t.

The long answer is you can get it back quickly if you’re willing to fork out the money for it but we’re talking about something that usually costs less than $20/yr getting inflated up to thousands of dollars. It might be worth it to you but it wasn’t for me.

What you can also do is purchase a similar domain, if you recall I purchased JackieZimmerman.co. I’ve had domain registrars through the years reach out to me on that site, and offer to sell me the matching .com. They all still wanted too much money. The domain was bought and sold about 9 times over the last 11 years buy domain squatters. It all comes down to cash.

I typically recommend that you say goodbye to that domain, and get something different. It can be heartbreaking but it’s so difficult to get them back.

How can I prevent losing my domain?

AUTO PAY IS YOUR FRIEND! Once you have a domain you care about, set that puppy to autopay and you won’t have to worry about losing it. Most registrars give you a 60 day grace period to change your mind after you do not renew your domain but once those 2 months have passed you might as well kiss it goodbye.

If your domain is bundled with your website on your hosting company, make sure that if/when you cancel your hosting plan that you still own your domain.

I typically recommend just keeping domains for at least a few years even if there is no website directly connected to it. For $12-20/year its a worthwhile investment in your ideas. If the domain is your name, I recommend putting that sucker on autopay and never looking back. It’s far to hard to secure your name in the first place, unless you have the most unique name on the planet, and you never know when you’ll need to promote yourself.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY….Own your own shit. Never let a designer/friend/wizard purchase your domain on your behalf.

 

 

 

I’m (still) in love with a scheduler: Coschedule Review

I’m (still) in love with a scheduler: Coschedule Review

UPDATE: Two Years Later

As I enter year three as a Coschedule user I have grown increasingly thankful for its service. Like I mentioned in my post below from last year, Coschedule really saved my butt during the beginning months of the pandemic and continues to do so. As my life and my business changes, I have found that I am able to take the brain space I need away from social media post planning because I know that ReQueue has my channels covered.

I’m actually considering taking a step back from social media for a while, and as a business owner this isn’t an easy choice to make. There are so many considerations for visibility and leads and revenue and and and…that alone is overwhelming. Like many people I know that social media doesn’t always give me good vibes and I think it’s time to take a break from it. This is something I have wanted to do for almost a year but couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it. How do I leave social media? What if my business suffers? Where will I market?

The good news is that those are all choices that I don’t have to make right now because I have Coschedule as a member of my team. Right now I plan to load up messages for the next few months, plan a few more for ReQueue and as I take my well needed mental break from social media, my business will still be as visible as ever.

These tools aren’t new to Coschedule but the driving force behind using them has changed for me. It used to be about saving time. I could schedule posts across all my platforms and get analytics all at once, saving me loads of time. But now I can step away from my channels all together, and know that they’re in good hands because I will set myself up for a seamless transition in and out of the hands-on act of curating my content.

While I step away from social media, I think I plan to focus on writing more blogs and the WordPress integration with Coschedule will make it a total breeze to publish those blogs without having to log on to my channels, keeping me blissfully free from scrolling.

I’ve spent the past two years bragging on Coschedule and it’s amazing features and I still think its the top social media scheduling systems. But this year I appreciate it for another reason. Coschedule gives me flexibility and reassurance and addition to its features. And for that…I thank you Coschedule.

 

UPDATE: One Year Later

Last year I made this post about Coschedule, the scheduler I use to post to social media. And I’m here to say…I’m still in love with this scheduler. I still love it for all the reasons I wrote below but after consistently using it for my business for a year, I’ve discovered a few more!

1. Coschedule has saved my butt during this pandemic because it keeps posting evergreen content for me. I have bee admittedly neglecting my social channels during this time because they are just one more thing right now on an endless to do list that got much longer during a global pandemic. I can’t really explain why the to do list keeps growing when every one else’s seems to be slowing, but having a bunch of posts put into ReQueue has made it so my channels are full of crickets. Sure, even I’m tired of some of the posts that keep poppin’ up but at least something is popping up. It’s definitely reminded me I need to add more to ReQueue.

2. Having templates for the most common types of posts/campaigns that I run has saved my butt for when I’ve forgotten about things that need to go out. This hasn’t happened on the Queen of GSD channels but I also run my social media for my advocacy through Coschedule and when I need to promote live chats or other online events, I already have the promotion scheduled saved, so all I have to do is load it up, change a few dates and hit publish. I have sincerely appreciated this feature a few times over the last few months when pandemic brain has let a few things slip. Also…you can run multiple brands through one account on Coschedule which is a massive perk for me. It helps justify the cost and keep everything organized under one login.

3. I believe Coschedule cares about small businesses in general but if you read my review before you saw that I got a dope discount for writing this review. I think Coschedule is incredibly affordable as it stands but offering 50% for a review is an unheard of, amazing deal. By updating this post, I get another year for 50% off. And here’s the thing…I would have updated and ranted about Coschedule ANYWAY. I never promote tools I don’t use personally and I think it would be easy for their company to offer a one and done promotion and it would be REALLY easy to cut those promotions during a global pandemic. But I think Coschedule doubles down on small businesses and keeps their promises.

So the main takeaways are that:

  • Coschedule has saved my butt so many times
  • Coschedule is so affordable and helpful you’d be silly not to give it a try.

 

Happy Anniversary Coschedule. Here’s to a lifetime of our shared love.


You know that feeling where you’re searching for something to meet your needs but you keep coming up unsuccessful? I know that’s some seriously existential shit but looking for what you need and not finding it is something we all encounter. My current, most frustrating searches include: finding my keys, the perfect burger, a dog that won’t shed, and a headband that will actually stay on my head. If I start searching for things to meet my needs in business there’s a good chance that I’ll never stop looking. One thing that we all need more of and can’t seem to find is time, which is not a revolutionary thought but when I’m looking at tools in business, I’m looking for what can save me time, or help me regain time. Or even turn back time..right, Cher?

The One

I’m a total sucker for trying out new tools when I see them. I always want to know that the systems I’m using are the most efficient, cost-effective and frankly that they’re the coolest ones out there. A few years ago I was working for a company where I inherited their social channels. The system they were using was inefficient for the number of posts I needed to make and it wouldn’t connect with all the social platforms available. I started the hunt for the perfect social media management tool and I checked out all the big hitters in the space but they weren’t what I needed. They didn’t do EVERYTHING I was looking for. Until…I found the one. I’ve never been more geeked to sit on an info webinar as I was when I found Coschedule. Coschedule is so much more than a social media posting tool, its a complete management system for all things publishing/outreach/editorial. We’re not just talking social posting, but blog management, enews campaigns, marketing campaign tracking and then some. And then they said the one word that made me swoon even harder. Templates. In Coschedule you can make social posting templates, task list templates, templates for your templates. Templates = Time saved. Just call me T-Pain because I am in love with a scheduler. We used Coschedule at my former employer and each new feature was like a gift from the gods. I loved it so much but when I started my own company, I did what we all do…I looked for a great free solution. There are great free solutions out there, but none of them did EVERYTHING. So I headed to Coschedule, signed up for the free trial just to make sure it was as dope as I remember. And it is. I dragged my feet in order to save a few dollars but what I saved in dollars, I paid for in time. Don’t be like me. Using Coschedule again feels like home…which might be weird to you, but for me having a system that works so perfectly and meets all my needs is exactly what I’m looking for.

Why is CoSchedule the Bee’s Knees?

Let’s say you post a blog every month but then you schedule 2 posts leading up to the blog on 3 different channels and 2 posts when you launch it on 3 different channels and then you repost it a few months later. That’s almost 20 individual posts that you have to schedule each time. In Coschedule, you can create a template for this posting cadence and then just fill in the pictures and any additional copy. Magic, right? Here’s what I love most about Coschedule:

  • Templates
  • Social posting, blog scheduling and email campaigns in one place. A full blown editorial calendar
  • It’s very easy to copy/duplicate social posts
  • Seeing everything I have scheduled for the month in one glance AND it’s color coded
  • The Idea section, where you can list out blog/post ideas you have and set them on a back burner so you don’t forget
  • Analytics in one place
  • Blog management from inside Coschedule

Here’s a few pics of the interface in all its glory. There is a bit of a learning curve when using Coschedule but only because there isn’t anything else out there like it but once you learn it, you’re going to be just as smitten as I am. If you need help learning how to use Coschedule, they have great help documents or I can help you get it set up. They offer two free weeks to give it a try and don’t require a credit card, which just makes me like them even more. So check out Coschedule and thank me later.

Try Coschedule

 

 

 

New Headshots: What to request for your website

New Headshots: What to request for your website

A lot of my clients have been getting new headshots (get it ladies!), and many of them have asked if I have any recommendations for what to ask the photographer for. And it just so happens I do.
For your personal headshots, do what ever makes you feel confident and happy but for use on your website we need to think bigger. No really, I mean we need bigger photos! A headshot is usually a square photo but if you want those large, banner-type photos on your site, a square headshot is not going to cut it.

 

Photos for hero images or banners

When you talk to your photog, ask for shots that are landscape and have a full background behind you. If you want to use them in the hero section at the top or as a background on anything we need more stuff behind you versus a close up.  Vertical/portrait photos often don’t work well for websites because computer monitors are landscape. Portrait photos work well for lots of other applications (headshots, social media, etc.) but we need to make sure you walk out of your shoot with ALL the photos you need to shine online.

In my perfect world you’d walk away from your photo shoot with the following:

  • Landscape photos where you are at the left, right, and center of the shot. Sometimes we don’t want you right in the center, so options are nice.
  • A few different backgrounds. Some that have casual stuff behind you like a kitchen, office, living room, trees, etc. Some that are plain colors.
  • Shots where your full body is in the frame in addition to shots where just your torso is shown.

This picture of Mary Catalogna is a great example of a landscape picture that would work great as a hero image. It is zoomed out enough to show more of the background behind her. I’d love to have this shot also with Mary either to the left or right.

This picture of Wendy Garvin Mayo is beautiful but there isn’t enough background behind it to be use it as a full width hero image. The background is very complex, so I wouldn’t be able to redraw it or recreate parts to add to it. If Wendy’s photographer had stepped back, made Wendy a little smaller in the frame, and included more of the background this picture would be perfect.

Other photos

Your photog is going frame your face or body in the way that is best for the shot, but it’s not always what’s best for our needs on your website. If they take any close headshots ask them to also take a few shots where your shoulders are both fully in the frame.  We can always crop it smaller but what happens is I end up having to redraw shoulders because it looks weird if your shoulders are randomly cut off. It’s easier and looks much better if your head and shoulders are included in the original shot.

In my perfect world we’d have:

  • Different poses that include your whole head/hair and both your shoulders and arms.
  • Traditional headshots but also more casual and relaxed poses.
  • Standing or full body shots in addition to sitting poses. (We don’t often use the full body, but it gives me more to work with and then we can crop where it makes the most sense for the website.)

 

This picture of Cazandra Campos-McDonald is great because we have her full body AND it’s on a neutral/solid background. If I needed to turn this into a banner image, I can easily add on more of that solid beige color to make the photo work.
This picture of Lisa is great for a headshot but isn’t ideal for a website. Though she looks amazing,  you can see her hair is out of the frame as well as one of her shoulders and both of her arms.

Remember! We can always take away from photos but it’s much harder and often impossible to add.

What’s the deal with privacy policies on websites?

What’s the deal with privacy policies on websites?

Do I REALLY need a privacy policy?

If you collect ANYT info on your website the answer is a resounding YES.

✔ That means if you collect credit card info you’re a yes.
✔ If you have a very simple contact form you’re a yes.
✔ If your site collects cookies you’re a yes.
✔ Don’t know if your site collects cookies? You’re still probably a yes.

 

My business isn’t very big, do I still need one?

The laws they are a-changin’ and the rules are changing so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up. You know how you’re always getting those emails from companies saying their privacy policies have changed? Changing laws and best practices are the reasons for those emails. The CliffsNotes version is that each state has its own laws but that doesn’t mean you’re immune if your state doesn’t have one of these laws. You could still get sued by someone you work with who is in another state. Still following? Privacy Policies are legal documents that let people know what you plan to do with the information you collect on their websites and that means ANY information. The video below explains this really well.

Ok fine, I’ll just snag one for free on the internet.

I would advise against this. Sure, we all love free stuff but let’s be real, you get what you pay for. Free policies are not always legally sound, you may not know how to customize it for your business AND are you really going to stay on top of the rapidly changing laws? Probs not.

This seems like a lot of work for something that may never happen.

Ah-ha! But this is where you’re wrong. I use a service called Termageddon that creates a custom privacy policy for your website and AUTO-UPDATES it when the laws change. Like magic. I use Termageddon on my site, check it out (It’s also in my footer). I only share tools that I use personally and feel strongly about.

 

 

Loading...