Friday, 22 April 2011

Alt Attribute & SEO Optimization

SEO Optimization images is becoming more and more essential in SEO (Seo optimization) for websites. The ALT attribute is a critical step that is sometimes forgotten. This can be a lost opportunity for better rankings.


In Google's webmaster guidelines, they advise using alternative text for the images in your web site:

Images:. Use the alt attribute to supply descriptive text. In addition, we recommend utilizing a human-readable caption and descriptive text round the image.

Why would they ask us to achieve that? The answer is simple, really; search engines have a similar problem as blind users. They cannot see the images.

Many webmasters and inexperienced or unethical SEOs abuse the use of this attribute, trying to stuff it with keywords, hoping to achieve a certain keyword density, which isn't as relevant for rankings now since it once was.

On the contrary, high keyword density can, on some search engines, trigger spam filters, which may create a penalty for the site's ranking. Even without this type of penalty, your site's rankings will not benefit from this plan.
This process also puts persons who use screen readers in a greater disadvantage. Screen readers are software-based tools that really read aloud the items in what's displayed on the screen. In browsing the net, the alt attributes of images are read aloud too.

Imagine hearing a paragraph of text that is followed by repetitions of numerous keywords. The page would be not even close to accessible, and, to put it mildly, would be found quite annoying.
What is an Alt attribute?

An ALT attribute shouldn't be used as a description or perhaps a label to have an image, though many people utilize it for the reason that fashion. Though it might seem natural to assume that alternate text is a label or perhaps a description, it is not!

The words used within an image's alt attribute ought to be its text equivalent and convey exactly the same information or serve exactly the same purpose the image would.

The goal would be to supply the same functional information that a visual user would see. The alt attribute text should be the "stand in" when the look itself is not available. Think about this question: If you were to replace the look using the text, would most users receive the same basic information, and would it create the same response?
Some examples:

 

Some SEO Optimization Tips

If your search button is really a magnifying glass or binoculars its alt text should be 'search' or 'find' not 'magnifying glass' or 'binoculars'.

If an image is meant to convey the literal items in the look, then a description is suitable.

If it's meant to convey data, then that data is what is appropriate.

If it's designed to convey the use of a function, then your function itself is what ought to be used.

Some Alt Attribute Guidelines:

Always add alt attributes to images. Alt is mandatory for accessibility and for valid XHTML.

For images that play merely a decorative role in the page, use an empty alt (i.e. alt="") or a CSS background image to ensure that reading browsers don't bother users by uttering things like "spacer image".

Remember that it is the function of the image we are attempting to convey. For instance; any button images shouldn't include the word "button" in the alt text. They ought to emphasize the action performed by the button.

Alt text should be determined by context. The same image inside a different context may require drastically different alt text.

Attempt to flow alt text with the rest from the text because that's how it will be read with adaptive technologies like screen readers. Someone listening to your page should hardly remember that a graphic image can there be.
Please remember that using an alt attribute for every image is needed to satisfy the minimum WAI requirements, which are used since the benchmark for accessibility laws in UK and the rest of Europe. Also, they are required to meet "Section 508" accessibility requirements in america.

It is important to categorize non-text content into three levels:

Eye-Candy
Mood-Setting
Content and Function

I. Eye-Candy

Eye-Candy are things that serve no purpose other than to create a site visually appealing/attractive and (oftentimes) satisfy the marketing departments. There isn't any content value (though there might be value to some sighted user).

Never alt-ify eye-candy unless there is something there which will boost the usability of the site for someone utilizing a non-visual user agent. Make use of a null alt attribute or background images in CSS for eye-candy.

II. Mood-Setting

This is the middle layer of graphics which might actually set the mood or set the stage so to speak. These graphics aren't direct content and may 't be considered essential, but they're important in that they help frame what's going on.

Try to alt-ify the second group as makes sense and is relevant. There might be times when doing this may be annoying or detrimental to other users. Then try to avoid it.

For example; Alt text that's just like adjacent text is unnecessary, as well as an irritant to screen reader users. I recommend alt="" or background CSS images in such cases. But sometimes, it's important to understand this content inside for those users.

Most times this will depend on context. The same image in a different context may require drastically different alt text. Obviously, content ought to always be fully available. How you go in this case is really a judgment call.

III. Content and Function

This is when the image is the actual content. Always alt-ify content and functional images. Title and long description attributes can also be so as.
The reason many authors can't understand why their alt text isn't working is they don't know why the pictures exist. You have to figured out precisely what function a picture serves. Consider what it's concerning the image that's vital that you the page's intended audience.

Every graphic has a reason behind being on that page: since it either enhances the theme/ mood/ atmosphere or it is advisable to what are the page is trying to explain. Knowing what the look is perfect for makes alt text easier to write. And practice writing them definitely helps.
A method to look into the usefulness of alternative text is to imagine reading the page on the phone to someone. An amount you say when encountering a particular image to make the page understandable to the listener?

Besides the alt attribute you've got a couple more tools available for images.
First, in level of descriptiveness title is within between alt and longdesc. It adds useful information and can add flavor. The title attribute is optionally rendered through the user agent. Remember they are invisible and not shown like a "tooltip" when focus is received through the keyboard. (So much for device independence). So use the title attribute just for advisory information.
Second, the longdesc attribute points towards the URL of a complete description of the image. When the information found in an image is essential to the meaning of the page (i.e. some important content will be lost if the image was removed), a longer description compared to "alt" attribute can reasonably display ought to be used. It may offer rich, expressive documentation of a visual image.

It ought to be used when alt and title are insufficient to embody the visual qualities of an image. As Clark [1] states, "A longdesc is really a long description of the image...The aim is by using any length of description essential to impart the facts of the graphic.

It would not be remiss to hope that the long description conjures an image - the image - within the mind's eye, an analogy that is true even for that totally blind."

Although the alt attribute is mandatory for web accessibility as well as for valid (X)HTML, not every images need alternative text, long descriptions, or titles.

In many cases, you are better off just choosing your gut instinct -- if it's not essential to incorporate it, and if you don't have a strong urge to do it, don't add that longdesc.

However, if it's essential for the whole page to work, then you've to include the alt text (or title or longdesc).

What's necessary and what's not depends a great deal about the function of your image and its context on the page.

Exactly the same image may need alt text (or title or longdesc) in one spot, but not in another. If the image provides simply no content or functional information alt="" or background CSS images might be appropriate to use. But if the image provides content or adds functional information an alt would be required and maybe a long description would be in order. Oftentimes this type of thing is a judgement call.

Image Search Engine Optimization Tips


Listed here are key stages in optimizing images:

Choose a logical file name that reinforces the keywords. You can use hyphens within the file name to isolate the keyword, but avoid to exceeding two hyphens. Stay away from underscores as a word separator, such as "brilliant-diamonds.jpg";

Label the file extension. For example, when the image internet search engine sees a ".jpg" (JPEG) file extension, it's likely to assume that the file is really a photo, and if it sees a ".gif" (GIF) file extension, it's going to assume that it is a graphic;

Ensure that the text nearby the image that's relevant to that image.
Again, do not lose a great opportunity to help your website with your images in search engines. Begin using these steps to rank better on all of the engines and drive increased traffic for your site TODAY.

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