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How to Improve Your SEO and Accessibility with Alt Attributes

You took the time to find that perfect image for your website’s homepage or a blog post. You feel that image says everything you want to say about your business or blog. The last thing you would want is for it to be invisible. If you neglect the alt attribute of that image, it may very well be invisible from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and accessibility standpoint.

If you want to ensure that your page is SEO and accessibility friendly, this post is a must-read for you. If you use alt attributes on your site, but want to improve how they are written, this post is for you too. If you just can’t get enough alt attributes in your life, well, you’re in luck as well!

What are Alt Attributes?

Alt attributes, also referred to as alt tags or alt text, are an essential element for an effective online presence. They are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Alt attributes strengthen your visibility to search engine spiders and improve the accessibility of your website for people who are visually-impaired. By neglecting to add alt attributes to your images, you keep those images, and your page, invisible. They are essential for these three reasons:

  • Adding alt attributes to photos is first a principle of web accessibility. Visually impaired users need to know what the picture is showing. A screen reader will read an alt attribute, describing the image, and provide a better understand of an on-page image.
  • If an image can’t load, an alt attribute will be displayed in place of an image.
  • Alt attributes provide better image context and descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly and improving your SEO.

Writing Alt Attributes

Now that we have a better idea of the importance of alt attributes, it is important to know how to write them. So if you were to create an alt attribute for this image:
pug dog wearing birthday hat looking up
The alt text could say: pug dog. That describes the picture on a basic level, but does not give the full picture. A better alt text would say: pug dog wearing birthday hat looking up. Why does that work better? Well here are 6 tips to keep in mind when creating alt attributes that are SEO and accessibility friendly:

Keep it Simple

Google does not like long descriptions of images (see keyword stuffing below) and neither do screen readers. The most popular screen readers cut off alt attributes at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or less.

Be Descriptive and Concise

Not only should the alt attributes be short, it should be to the point. Alt attributes are designed to provide text explanations of images for users who are unable to see them. Be clean in your description, while trying to say it in as few words as possible.

Location, Location, Location

Placing images with alt attributes near relevant text will help create a logical experience for non-visual users. For example, if I was to include the picture of the birthday-celebrating pug above, it should be placed near text about a doggy-themed birthdays.

Keywords are Key

Remember when I told you that there is an SEO component to alt attributes? Well, keywords are key for SEO. Alt attributes are an opportunity to signal to search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query. It’s a great strategy to use your site’s keywords in order to help your images rank.

Keyword Stuffing

Like all things, keywords are great in moderation. Be careful to not misuse your keywords as it could end up hurting your SEO instead of helping it. Google does not like it when you stuff the alt attributes with keywords. In our pug wearing a birthday hat example above, you would want to avoid this alt attribute:

pug dog breed puppies doggies birthday party hat red white pup puppies woof

First, this does not accurately tell a screen reader what the picture is. Imagine having to make sense of a picture with that description!

Secondly, filling alt attributes with keywords results in a negative user experience, and may cause your site to be perceived as spam.

Don’t Neglect Form Buttons

What is a form button? Form elements are different types of input elements, like text fields, checkboxes, submit buttons.

For example:

shopping cart

This is an example of a shopping cart or add to cart form button. If a form on your website uses an image give it an alt attribute. Image buttons should have an alt attribute that describes the function of the button, for example, this icon could have an alt attribute of shopping cart.

You are now ready to write your alt attributes for all the images on your site. Every time a new image is added, be sure to write the alt attribute. Remember to go back to older images and ensure that they have alt attributes as well. This simple step will give you a more accessible website that is also SEO friendly, creating a more positive user experience!

If you are more of a visual user, here is a tutorial from Google about writing alt attributes.

How to Improve Your SEO and Accessibility with Alt Attributes
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3 Tips to Keep Your Computer Safe

For over 200,000 people in over 150 countries, logging on to their computers was not business as usual yesterday. The cyberattack that hit over the weekend, called “WannaCry” or “WannaCrypt,” caused disruptions to universities, hospitals, businesses, and daily life across the world. No catastrophic breakdowns were reported, but the cyberattack has people concerned about their online security.

The attack was carried out via an email attachment. The malicious software or malware, contained in the attachment locks users out of their computers, with the threat of destroying data if a ransom is not paid via untraceable bitcoin.

The question for many remains, “am I safe?”. The good news is that there are things that you can do to keep yourself safe online.

3 Tips to Keep Your Computer Safe
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Technology & Accessibility

As the old cliché goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This saying is as true for solutions related to disability as it is for any other ambition. With the necessity of technology in our daily lives, individuals with disabilities, and those who advocate for them have designed many tools that work for all, along with guidelines for how to harness its power. This concept is not a new one. In 1808, Pellegrino Turri invented the typewriter to help a friend to write legibly. In 1886, Herman Hollerith, who himself had a cognitive processing disability, invented a method to use punch cards to transport and manage data, later founding the company that would become IBM.

Technology & Accessibility
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5 Design Trends You’ll See in 2017

The trickiest part of design trends is that they’re almost never new, just a resurgence of a design aesthetic that was made popular before. Let’s take a look at 5 of the trends that will be making a strong comeback in 2017.


serif

1) SERIF TYPEFACES

If 2016 was the year of thin and light minimal sans-serif fonts, 2017 will be the year of serifs – ranging from slab to slim. These fonts offer class and elegance and when combined with the right graphics can still come off as modern and fresh. Who knew Times New Roman would actually come in handy?




2) OVERSIZED TEXT

While this trend was popular in 2016, it’s not going anywhere. It allows for a bold and clear message. The trick to this trend is not over-using it and finding other creative ways to include it in photos.




3) BRIGHTER COLOURS

As more website & print designs are heading towards minimalist layouts, many designers and brands are trying to find ways to infuse personality and vibrancy into their brand which is why bright colours are making a comeback. Many brands are shifting towards gradients with very subtle hue shifts. Instagram’s recent rebranding saw the introduction of their gradient colour palette across their apps.




4) DESIGNS ROOTED IN REALITY

While this trend might not be as easily spotted from afar, you can be sure it is out there. Designs Rooted in Reality are essentially designs that pull the familiar textures and effects commonly associated with the real world into the digital world. This includes more paper and ink textures online, and even the imitation of letterpress and other old school technologies.


 



5) HAND DRAWN GRAPHICS

Partially connected to designs rooted in reality, you should expect to see more logos with hand-drawn elements this year. Hand-drawn logos and graphics help to convey warmth and authenticity and will be most popular with brands wanting to connect to a more youthful audience.


5 Design Trends You’ll See in 2017
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Ailsa’s Must Have Whisky

Whoever said that Canada can’t compete with a Single Malt Whisky has obviously never tried Cape Breton Rare! Whether it is the fact that the Glenora Distillery draws its clear spring water from MacLellan’s Brook which trickles down the beautiful Mabou highlands, or whether it is the fact that the craftsmen learned from Bowmore Distillers in Scotland who lent their hand with production training and the sourcing of authentic Scottish Copper Pot Stills, it’s award winning whisky has a smooth, flavourful taste that competes with world renowned single malts.

Add this to your Christmas wish list, or better yet, take a trip to Cape Breton Island and visit the Glenora Distillery, take a tasting tour and pick up a bottle yourself, you wont be disappointed.

 
Ailsa’s Must Have Whisky
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Pam’s Holiday Reading List

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

by Adam Grant

Adam Grant, is a top-rated teacher at Wharton and an influencer in international HR with a Ph. D. in organizational psychology. His book Originals is an exploration of how people, can and do, choose to step forward and champion unconventional ideas and values.  If you are looking to originate ideas and practices Originals offers fresh insights on a variety of topics that will leave you feeling hopeful and, possibly, a little exhilarated.   

 

 

 

 

  

15515791_10211458907566132_978401787_oBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction.  Her book Big Magic dives into the creative process and shows us insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. Gilbert encourages us to embrace curiosity, let go of suffering and uncover the hidden jewels in ourselves. She offers tactics on how to face down our fears and live a creative life.

 

 

 

 

 

15502835_10211458906366102_1335968998_oBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is a New York Times bestselling Author and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship who writes fiction and non-fiction. Lamott knows there is no better way to write than to sit down and do it, line by line. It does not matter that your first draft is “shitty,” all that matters is that you keep your eyes open and keep moving forward. She offers tips such as finding a writing partner and carrying around index cards to jot down fortuitous phrases. Bird by Bird encourages, instructs and inspires writers with blunt honesty and humour.

Pam’s Holiday Reading List
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Patricks Wing House Review!

Searching for rockin’ chicken wings in Midland? I recommend you look no further than the Original Wing House. Boasting over one hundred flavours of wings, from the sweetness of honey bbq to the explosive Texas homicide, from dry rubs to wings so messy you’ll need a stack of napkins, this place has your taste buds covered. Bring some friends and share a platter that lets you sample multiple flavours from all parts of the world, or get a combo and discover their salads and excellent fries. Enjoy your food in the laid back, casual atmosphere of the bar, or take the wings with you on the road or home to your TV. It’s all up to you.

They might be named for their wings, but that’s not the only way the Original Wing House knows how to serve chicken. Their wraps, sandwiches and quesadillas promise to satisfy any chicken lover. There are also vegetarian wraps and quesadillas, and sides ranging from onion rings to garlic bread to jalapeno poppers. No matter your tastes or mood, you will find a meal that hits the spot for a reasonable price that will not leave you hungry.

The staff here are polite and sociable. The first time I visited the Original Wing House and was understandably overwhelmed by the vast selection of flavours, the serving staff were ready and willing to answer my questions and provide recommendations based on what I was in the mood for. The garlic parmesan wings I ultimately went for were delicious and I can easily understand why they are one of their most popular choices. The service wasn’t the fastest, but I was regularly updated and was able to talk to serving staff while waiting for my order. I have not had problems with incorrect orders and the food was piping hot.

I recommend the Original Wing House to any chicken lover seeking a casual bar dining experience, or anybody who doesn’t mind waiting a little for takeout. They easily have the best chicken wings I have tasted in a long while and their meals are large enough to satisfy an empty stomach.

Patricks Wing House Review!
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Jason’s Top 5 Travel Destinations!

After visiting 44 countries, these are my favourites so far…

  1. Thailand – Inexpensive, awesome food, tons of cultural history, warm weather, lots of beaches, and a great place to party.  Most people in the tourism industry speak English well enough so it’s pretty easy to get around.  I spent a month in Thailand had a great time.  Best place was Railay (Rai Leh) Beach, just around the corner from Ao Nang which is a very scenic coast town on the Krabi coast that has a fun vibe, decent beaches, beautiful islands to kayak to and beautiful cliffs. http://wikitravel.org/en/Rai_Leh
  2. Italy – There are so many amazing places in Italy…  But Rome is likely my favourite place that I’ve been to in Europe.  The history is just mind boggling.  And there are so many ruins, cathedrals, museums, art galleries and other notable attractions.  Even if you only have a couple of days, a visit to the Colosseum, Forum and Vatican City are outstanding. http://wikitravel.org/en/Rome
  3. Nepal – A great place to experience the Indian Subcontinent without feeling as overwhelmed as visiting India itself.  The mountain tourism makes for some great tourist mecas in Kathmandu while still experiencing some of the Indian/Nepalese culture.  http://wikitravel.org/en/Kathmandu Then from there the tallest mountains in the world are at your fingertips!  Personally, I hiked to Everest Base Camp just to say that I did it, but I’ve heard that the Annapurna Circuit is the more scenic route. http://wikitravel.org/en/Everest_Base_Camp_Trek
  4. Czech Republic – Relatively inexpensive in European terms, castles on the scenic landscape, and Prague: one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with its rivers, historical streets and buildings (untouched by the world wars unlike most other European cities), and fun atmosphere.  I haven’t been here in almost 20 years but I was blown away by Prague’s beauty. http://wikitravel.org/en/Prague
  5. New Zealand – I had so much fun on the South Island of New Zealand.  Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world!  And with all the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers, what better place.  I recommend the AJ Hackett Thrillogy (http://www.bungy.co.nz/) which involves 3 bungee jumps in different locations in one day!  And don’t miss all of the Lord of the Rings filming locations. http://wikitravel.org/en/Queenstown_(New_Zealand)

 

And for an added bonus, there’s one country that is at the top of my list of places I’d like to go:

  1. Norway – I have a love for mountains and scenic beauty and Norway happens to have an abundance of this.  From the photos and videos I’ve seen, the fjords that skirt the entire northern coast of Norway are beyond words.  The only downside (and the only reason I haven’t gone yet) is that you need a ton of time to travel it all and therefore is a quite costly trip to do it right.  It’ll happen… eventually… 
Jason’s Top 5 Travel Destinations!
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