Jan 03

Are You Using The Alt Attribute For Your Images Properly?

It’s important to make sure that your text content is optimized for search engines, but the alt attribute is becoming ever more important to the ranking of your website as people use services like Google Image search more and more often.

If you’re not making sure that your images are properly optimized, you’re neglecting a valuable opportunity to improve your page rank.

Your should offer simple, descriptive, human readable text which explains the image which it is attached to. Just like visually impaired visitors or those using text only browsers, the search engines can’t see your images.

If possible, it’s a good idea to use relevant keywords in these image tags, but don’t overdo it or use irrelevant keywords here; this can be seen as search engine spamming and result in penalties for your site. Instead, concentrate on giving visually impaired visitors the same information as is conveyed by the image that the alt attribute will take the place of.

It’s a basic element of accessible web design and is mandatory if you want your XHTML to be fully valid. Use this tag for all images which are not part of the design of your page (for instance, you should avoid creating an alt attribute for background images, but all inline images and any icons which take the place of a text-based link (like a search button, for example) should have a tag.

An alt attribute isn’t just good for your site’s page rank – in the UK and the rest of the European Union, they’re required in order for a site to meet accessibility standards. While enforcement is far less stringent in the US, there is also a growing movement towards bringing these tags in line with accessibility standards already in place. However, most webmasters will find the SEO benefits of this attribute alone to be well worth the minimal effort it takes to create them.

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