Why Add Alt Text to Your Listing Photos?

Publication date: September 19, 2023

Reading time:  5 minutes

As an Etsy seller, you know that creating a visually appealing online shop is crucial for attracting customers and driving sales. One essential but often overlooked aspect of optimizing your product listings is adding alt text to your listing photos. Alt text, short for alternative text, is a description of an image that is displayed when the image cannot be loaded or is read aloud by screen readers for visually impaired users. Implementing alt text has numerous benefits for both your shop’s visibility and accessibility.

Increased Accessibility for All Users

Making your Etsy shop accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments, is considered by many to be a moral responsibility and is also encouraged by Etsy in their best practices. Allowing your images to be accessible to shoppers with visual impairments is the main goal of adding alt text to your listing photos. Screen readers use alt text to describe images to visually impaired users, enabling them to understand your products and make informed purchasing decisions. By adding descriptive alt text, you create a more inclusive shopping experience, enhancing your shop’s reputation and building a positive brand image.

Better User Experience and Engagement

When customers have a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience, they are more likely to stay on your Etsy shop, explore your products, and make purchases. High-quality images with descriptive alt text provide valuable context for your products, increasing customer engagement. Customers can better understand the features and details of your items, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or returns. A positive user experience leads to higher customer satisfaction and increased likelihood of repeat business and positive reviews.

Protection Against Image Loading Errors

In the digital world, images may sometimes fail to load due to slow internet connections or technical issues. When this happens, the alt text acts as a placeholder, displaying a text description of the image’s content. By providing alt text, you ensure that customers still have access to important information about your products, even when the images are temporarily unavailable, seeing your alt text description instead of the dreaded image below.

Enhanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While enhancing your SEO should not be the focal point for adding alt text to your listing photos, it does play a role in the overall SEO for your Etsy shop. When search engines crawl your shop, they rely on text-based information—including alt text—to understand and index your shop and its images. By providing descriptive alt text, you increase the chances of your images appearing in image search results, driving more organic traffic to your shop. Including relevant keywords in your alt text can further boost your product listings’ visibility and improve your shop’s overall SEO. However, avoid keyword stuffing the description. Remember that the main purpose of alt text is to allow your listing photos to be accessible to shoppers with visual impairments.

Add Alt Text to Your Etsy Listing Photos

Now that you understand the importance of alt text, here are the steps for how to add it to your Etsy listing photos.

  1. Sign in to Etsy.com and go to Shop Manager
  2. Select Listings
  3. Select a listing
  4. Hover over the photo to which you want to add alt text to display an option box
  5. Select the Pencil icon to open the image to edit
  6. Type your alt text in the box underneath the image
  7. Click Save

Write a Great Image Description

When you write your photo listing description for alt text, focus on being concise and descriptive, providing your shoppers with relevant information about the image and its content. You should remember that alt text is telling the shopper what the image looks like. Think about what you would like to know about the photo if you were visually impaired and include essential details about the product’s appearance, size, and color. Because alt text does play a role in your shop’s overall SEO, try to use relevant keywords, when possible, to improve search visibility. However, avoid excessive keyword usage, as it may diminish your shopper’s experience. 

For example, the featured image for this article has the following entered for the alt text: “Cartoon Anthony in an orange sweater sitting at his desk in front a computer monitor displaying a bracelet Etsy listing photo on the screen with the alt text box open.” Again, it’s not about keywords; it’s about describing what the user would “see” in the image.

Embrace the Practice

Adding alt text to your Etsy listing photos is a simple yet powerful way to improve your shop’s accessibility for all users and create a better overall shopping experience, while also enhancing your Etsy shop’s SEO. By providing descriptive and relevant alt text, you can increase your shop’s visibility, engage customers, and build a positive brand reputation. Embrace the practice of including alt text in your Etsy listings to take your handmade shop to the next level and cater to a broader audience of potential buyers.