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Monday, February 14, 2011

Alt Tag, a No Longer HTML Attribute for Image in Google Ranking

Monday, February 14, 2011
Alt Tag Not Required 
For last couple of days, I had been observing if Alt Tags were of any use for images on website from SEO perspective? As an SEO by profession, until now, I knew the importance of Alt Tags. Further confirming this, Matt Cutts also discussed the importance of Alt Tags from Google perspective sometimes back. After observing and analyzing the latest CMS of blogger ,reading a few comments in the forum and skimming through the currently published specs for HTML 5 at whatwg.org, I hereby sum up with my thoughts that Alt Tag in HTML for image on website no longer seems plausible.


Let’s review the latest blogger CMS. I have uploaded an image in blogger and looked into Alt tag property in HTML, I could not find unlike in older blogger CMS. 

HTML CMS Mode
If you now review the same CMS in ‘Compose’ mode, it will display property ‘Add Caption’ that appears below the image you upload. This seems more plausible because the visibility of the caption is 100% on all browsers with or without downloaded image. This kind of caption also adds to usability and readability not only for normal users but also for visually challenged users.

Many of us argue that Alt Tag still holds importance from search engine perspective and the new CMS of blogger as an example illustrated above does not verify the claim in toto. To confirm this further, I checked and researched reliable websites such as The Hindu, the Times of India and couple of other sites. Their CMS allows captions below the pictures and also SEO adds the same repeated captions in Alt Tags. I believe, the extra Alt Tag in HTML with this kind of CMS is not necessary. However, SEO firms or persons still advise to add Alt Tags for which they have been taught as a good practice and they have been practicing the same YoY.

Compose Mode
I believe, this is not the best practice to add caption one in HTML as Alt Tags and the other as caption below the image. If a CMS has property to add caption, no need to insert Alt Tags in HTML, as blogger does not recommend this nor practice it now.


At time when Matt Cutts confirms that the repetition of keywords in web pages shall be considered as SPAM. To me, Alt Tag in HTML now looks repetitive to gain ranks that no longer remains valid as long as you give a caption to image you upload. This seems more logical from upfront users' perspective. 

To sum up, I must say Alt Tags for images do not look promising in a fast changing technology as long as you properly name your images below the one you upload. Any attempt to add extra looks spammy! Am I right Mr. Matt? 

4 Comments :

  1. Although you contesting on the value of Alt Tag looks valid in a way, I would not understand it in a rather different way.

    1. For those which are not Blogger, Alt Tags still hold weight as Captions are not an option available on all platforms.
    2. In those places, where there is a provision for both the Caption and AltTags as in Wordpress.com, its best to start practicing having rephrased versions of the same Alt Tag in the Caption (or vice versa). This will certainly alow the Search spiders to look at the two word strings in a different way.
    3. Now it is important to frame two complete 'sentences' as AltTags or Captions to make sense to Google or any Search engine, so that it does not look Spammy.

    Do let me know your opinion on this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Shyam
    Thanks for your valuable comment. Addressing your points below.

    1. If CMS has no option to add 'caption' for many, its time to revamp the CMS. If you want to keep pace with changing dynamics of technology upon which your web business is based.

    2. Rephrase versions do help but they implicitly intent 'repetition' as many websites are practicing this. I cited the examples of those websites such as The Hindu and The Times of India

    My analysis says that Alt Tags in HTML is old cake to have. See specs of HTML-5 and read the evolving concept of Micro-format to understand the insights for the article I updated on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The purpose of the alt tag is to let a search bot and a blind person understand what your image is about. IT also provides information about your image to people who have, for whatever reason, turned images off in their browser. It's not keyword stuffing to support a good reader experience for all people.

    If you want to know whether what you're doing on a page can be considered spammy, ask yourself whether there is a good reason for the action.

    Keep your images tagged, folks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Gillan

    I agreed. But now the concept is changing. Wiih evoploving concept of micro-format, advanced CMS, etc, caption below the image makes much sense than coding the same in HTML as Alt Tag.

    To me, this is more sensible and user friendly even for visually challenged users.

    ReplyDelete

 
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