‘ALT tags’ – short for Alternate Tags – were originally designed to contain the text to be displayed on web pages instead of images if a user’s computer did not have the capability (specification) to be able to display images.
However, as time has gone by, nearly all computer monitors now have the capability of displaying images.
This has meant that some web designers have decided to forget about adding ‘alt tags’ to their images.
‘Alt tags’ – a keyword tool
‘Alt tags’ on images provide a great way of getting your keywords near the top of your pages, without reducing your website readability. As long as if you don’t abuse this by using multiple phrases on the one image or the same phrase on multiple images, then this should positively impact your web page being found from your desired keyword phrase in search engines.
Helping positively impact your internal linking
‘Alt tags’ can also positively impact your internal website keyword linking. This means that if the Image link contains ‘alt tags’ that are the same as or have a similar context to the page that the image is linking to, then some search engines will deem the page that is being linked to, to be of greater value than it might have otherwise had if the image link had contained no ‘alt tags’.
This is because some search engines believe that instead of being just a standard link, the image link is in effect saying, “Visit this page, because it contains this ‘alt tag’ text information.”
Helping create additional entrance paths to your website
For a website to be really successful, you have to create as many different ‘entrances’ into it as possible.
You create a new site entrance by adding ‘alt tags’ to each image – the search engine image search.
You can use the Google Image Search (www.google.com/imghp) exactly like a search engine. Simply type in what you’re looking for into the search box and you’ll be presented with images that relate to your query.
There are also other image search search engines such as MSN (http://search.msn.com/images) and Yahoo (http://images.search.yahoo.com).
Unless you request specifically otherwise in your page coding, such image searches will list your website images that contain the search phrase used in the image name and the image alt text.
Appeal to the blind and visually-impaired audience
As well as appealing to search engines more effectively by using ‘alt tags’ in your images, there are some pieces of software that read web pages to blind Internet users. By adding alt tags to your images, it provides this software with information about the images that can be ‘read’ to the blind user.
Not only will you be appealing to more users by adding ‘alt tags’ to your images, you will also be complying with website design standards for disabled users of your site.
Note: Title tags have a similar functionality to ‘alt tags’ but can also be used to add a more comprehensive description to a text link. It is generally good practice to use both ‘alt and title tags’ with images.
Contact David Bain at www.PurpleInternetMarketing.com
Tomorrow: The PurpleInternet Marketing series: The ten biggest search engine optimisation mistakes – No.7: Wrong URLs.