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Alt Tag On All Images?
Posted 24 January 2008 - 05:13 PM
We've recently received some advice that EVERY image should have an alt tag. Currently, every hyper-linked image has an alt tag... should we tag up every spacer and shim gifs? What about those images that make up the 'frame' of our web page?
If yes, what do you suggest? Should I go keyword heavy?
Posted 24 January 2008 - 06:33 PM
You'll want to look at whatever the W3C specifications are for images such as shim.gif's etc. I believe empty quotes are what they used to recommend, but I don't design sites, so I'm not sure on that.
Posted 24 January 2008 - 07:17 PM
Posted 24 January 2008 - 07:58 PM
More importantly, if someone with a screen reader visits your site, the screen reader will usually attempt to "read" the alt attributes. If there is no alt attribute, it will speak the file name instead.
Imagine going to a site and hearing this:
"Welcome to our site. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. We hope you like it. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif. spacer.gif."
If, however, if it had an alt attribute of "", then it would just say: "Welcome to our site. We hope you like it."
It's not an SEO issue - it's an accessibility one.
Posted 24 January 2008 - 10:11 PM
My take was, they treat it as content but content that is only viewed by a minority of visitors and in cases of missing images and or mouseover. This would mean that it is content of fairly low importance to the page (as far as they are concerned).
Completely ignoring alt attributes would suggest that spam has killed this as a source of information for them.
Posted 24 January 2008 - 11:18 PM
Posted 24 January 2008 - 11:30 PM
Posted 25 January 2008 - 12:30 AM
Nethy, there are 2 completely different things going on here.
1) It's recommended to have alt attributes for all images, even empty ones. This is for accessibility, not for SEO. The recommended alt attribute for spacers is "" (nothing).
2) Alt attributes ARE indexed, I've tested it. This means that you can use them for SEO, and for Spam, depending on how you use them, just like anything else that can be indexed.
3) I suspect most people (including search engine programmers) would consider keywords in spacer gifs as spam. It would certainly be bad usability.
An alt attribute is an alternative content source for people/spiders who can't see images. It's not a free invisible space to stuff keywords. There is a huge difference. It's "alternative", not "extra".
Appropriate keywords in visible images = Good Accessibility and SEO
Keywords in invisible or purely decorative images = Bad Accessibility and SEO (Spam).
Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:54 AM
Posted 25 January 2008 - 10:25 AM
Thanks for comments... That's good info. The distinction between SEO - more specifically white hat vs black hat - and accessibility is all very interesting.
In this case, it looks like white hat and good acccessibility align. It seems like they generally do.
Take care and thanks again.
Posted 27 January 2008 - 10:43 AM
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