How NOT to label images

As connection speeds and hard drives have improved, the type of media people look for online has changed. The early 'net was all about text (hypertext), but now people can access, and want, more images. It is neither coincidence or accident that every successful social medium incorporates some form of image sharing. Images are especially important in construction, whether project photos or technical drawings. They illustrate, showcase, and explain products in ways difficult to achieve using just pages full of text and data. This means it is now as important for search engines to find your pictures as your website.

So why do I keep seeing pages that use images like this:

This came from an email newsletter; my email client only downloads images with manual approval, so when I opened the message this is what I saw. The problem is all the images had generic alt text - "Placeholder image" - instead of useful names. 

Usually alt text only comes up when you hover the mouse cursor over an image, but it will also display if, for some reason, the image does not load. This means that if there is no alt text, or bad alt text, and the image is broken or missing, viewers have no way to know what was there. This email would work better if the alt text said, "Rotary hammer in action" or "Vacuum excavator close-up". That text is interesting, and makes me want to click through.

This example comes from an email, not a website, but the basic principal remains the same: Alt text is another way to get readers, and search engines, interested in your images. Adding alt text is fairly easy; most content management systems should provide a space for alt text when you upload an image. If not, it requires a small addition to the HTML that defines the image. Either way, if your webmaster doesn't know how to do this, get a new webmaster.