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.

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.

 

 

 

This business is anti-racism

This business is anti-racism

Two women's hands locking by the pinky. One white and one black. Queen of GSD and I (Jackie Zimmerman) will always be a safe and welcoming space for people of color. Granted I don’t really have a physical space per se, but I mean I will hold space for you and will welcome your friendship, your business and partnerships.

I want to make this vow to all of my clients. I will:

  • Cut ties with any clients that are not anti-racism
  • Be your ally in every way that I can
  • Continue to donate to funds helping to support anti-racism causes
  • To support and promote your businesses

 

Below are links to businesses owned by women of color who are my clients. Please support them.

Umm what just happened:  A summary of my first year in business

Umm what just happened: A summary of my first year in business

I quit my job in July of 2018.

In October of 2018, I thought I was living the dream.

By December 2018 I was starting to question my choice.

In January of 2019, I was in full-blown panic mode.

In February I walked into the SheHive for the first time.

When March rolled around, I wasn’t flailing around anymore. I had a plan. The plan was Queen of GSD.

April was the most successful month of this entire year.

 

“Ok, cool story Jackie but who cares?”

Well, I’m sure my Mom totally cares because Moms care about that sort of thing but I care. If you’re a business owner, you know the first year is amazing and bizarre and scary and a massive learning curve. You also probably questioned yourself and thought about jumping ship more times than you’d ever admit. When I quit my job I was CERTAIN that I was going to slay being a business owner but just a few months later I was already ready to work for the first person that would hire me. I didn’t believe I could do it.

Then I met the women at the SheHive. Everyone needs a SheHive and if they don’t have a SheHive they need a village of people behind them rooting them on, sharing insight and valuable life experience. It took a village to get Queen of GSD going and still heavily rely on that village. I am grateful to this village and I would literally wander through a jungle, wearing a loincloth, fighting off jaguars to remain in this village. They validated me when I really needed it helped me to see that I can do this.

 

“Ok, but what’s the point of this blog?”

The point is that I’m super grateful to my village but also equally grateful to all the wonderful people I got to work with this year. Below you’ll find a list of this year’s clients and when I was putting it together I was pleasantly reminded of those who trusted me with their businesses this year. Owning a business is bananas, but when you’ve got lovely people surrounding you, it feels like the bananas are manageable.

Thank you to everyone I worked with this year. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on. And the biggest of thank yous to my husband who has never doubted me, supported our family when it was dicey, and continues to think the sun shines out of my butt no matter what I do.

I hope you have a great holiday season and that we can tackle some more cool stuff in 2020.

 

In no particular order here are the clients that made my first year of business successful:

Rise Above The Din Social Media Marketing

Kim Boudreau Smith

Destination You Coaching

Cazandra Campos- MacDonald

Boldt Global

AnCan Foundation

Jennifer Archer

Madaleno’s Italian Restuarant

Rebel Cycle Studio

Your Vocal Journey

Eyes Rock

Carlyle Towers

Good2Go

Career Savvy Coaching

Tarot Jane

Brazenly Beautiful

Jay’s World Travels

Jessica Griffin Photography

Fun With Financials

Anita Expert

Academy of Roller Derby

Gabe Howard

Something New

Lisa Shackelford

Mary Catalogna

The Sewer Doctors

Matt Sherley

The Yoga Shelter

Whitney Petit

Psych Central

5 Reasons You Need To Own Your Website Shit

5 Reasons You Need To Own Your Website Shit

And by “website shit” I mean own your domain. Own your hosting. Own your themes and plugins. Own it all.

I cannot stress this enough. You, the business owner or individual, need to own all of your own digital assets. Regardless of whether you know what to do with your domain once you buy it or have a clue what a host is or does… make sure when you acquire these things, they are IN YOUR NAME.

In the last month, I’ve had two new clients with existing websites and social media sites… and with zero access because they do not own their own shit and their super “cool” (NOT COOL) former website person isn’t cooperating. This can literally happen to anyone, including you.

The topic of ownership of digital assets really fires me up because at the root of most of these issues… is someone who is being an asshole. Plain and simple. Protect yourself against assholes. I don’t care if you are working with your bestie, your Hunny, or your mommy – make sure no one gets to be an asshole about your hard work and your business.

 

Here are the top 5 reasons you need to own all your digital shit.

1. Because I said so, that’s why. Seriously, you NEED to own it.

If it is not currently in your name, you do not own it. This means even though your name is Jane Smith, you do not own JaneSmith.com unless it is registered to YOU.

Many times people who are not web savvy will hire someone to set up their website, social channels, etc. and just say “handle it!” The person they hire will purchase everything under their own accounts. This makes life for your web person much easier but as your business outgrows them, it will make your life MUCH harder to try to get your stuff back. Hard as in almost impossible if they choose to be… an asshole. And if it comes down to them not getting money anymore from you, it is a high probability that assholery will abound.

If you do not own your digital assets, I urge you to please talk to whoever does and try to get it transferred over. It is devastating to lose your domain and or access to your own channels. Also – super red flag if they give you push back.

2. Accidents happen

I hate to use this as a talking point…but it’s true. People die or have terrible things happen to them. That’s life whether we want to chat about it or not.

If you don’t own your digital accounts… they will die with them too. Or be in limbo if they are recovering from an accident. I’m sure you don’t want to be THAT asshole while someone is in the hospital, calling up and asking them to sign into a website because you locked yourself out and don’t have access to reset the password. Not a great look.

I know this sounds incredibly insensitive but your business is your livelihood and an unexpected tragedy should not take it down.

3. It gives you flexibility

Let me tell you a little story.

In 2006, I was a fresh-faced college grad ready to show my online portfolio to the world and get a job. Once I got that job… I promptly let my domain lapse and it’s pretty much lost forever.

$1,500 for JackieZimmerman.com? I’d rather change my name than succumb to domain squatting like that.

All of this is to say that while my priorities changed once I got that job, I really wish I still had that domain now for other purposes. You never know when things will shift, or new opportunities will come along. This is especially true if your domain is your name.

You’d be surprised how many of your “good ideas” for website names are already taken. So whether you are ready for it or not, I’d swoop on that name instead of risking some internet asshole trying to squeeze you later on.

4. You want to make changes

If your business name ever changes, or you are totally ready to evolve your business and you want people to see your cringy but genuine beginnings or maybe you want to merge your established shit with the business you’ve been dreaming about, it’s super helpful (read: critical) to direct the traffic from one business to your new site.

Guess what you sweet summer child? You need access to the domains to redirect them.

If you decide your website is too slow and want to change the host… you need access to your current host

If you decide your website needs to be redesigned… you need access to both!

Are you seeing a pattern here??

You cannot change ANYTHING about your site if you don’t have these logins

5. People Suck

The underlying theme here is that sometimes you trust someone to manage this information and these accounts for you and they do you dirty.

I do not understand designers and developers that withhold access to these things for petty reasons but alas, they do. Money, clout, personal issues – just jump onto a YouTube drama channel if you want to see how fast people can turn or how Petty LaBelle they can get.

They say not to mix family or friends with business, but a large number of people (especially entrepreneurs) do it. DNA and love don’t give immunity to assholery.

So to save yourself from some disgruntled former employee, or exploding family drama, put everything in your name from the start.

On most platforms, there are user role settings that allow you to create logins for other people but don’t allow them to take ownership. This is especially important on social channels.

Whew. I feel better.

Loading...