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Img Names And Alt Tags: Maximum Robot-friendly Length?


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#1 headquarters

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 05:56 AM

I am considering upgrading the img names in a site's programming to include keywords in the img file names, eg. the current img names in the image file and applicable links are something along the lines of: rfs01.jpg and I am considering changing them all to read something more along the lines of: roses flower shop valentines day.jpg thus introducing more keywords into each jpg's name and then also to any link in the program involving it.

My 3 questions are:

1) Can re-working these img names (and the links involving them) contribute to my SEO? (I'm under the impression from what I've learned to date re: SEO that doing so has the potential to contribute to SEO, but I'd like to make sure before I go through the extensive site and do this to all the jpg names and their links.)

2) If it is the case that this can contribute to SEO, what is the limit on words in a img's jpg's name while keeping robot-friendly?

3) I'm also considering putting something SEO-derivative into what are now empty alt="" tags (in the programming as empty to satisfy the validator.) My question re: alt tags is the same, that is how many words can safely go into an alt tag description while remaining robot-friendly?

Thanks,

headquarters

Edited by headquarters, 24 April 2009 - 06:01 AM.


#2 NASA

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 06:48 AM

Image names do not AFAIK contribute to SEO. The same debate can be held about HTML page names. Unless the file name is used as the anchor text then perhaps it carries some SEO KWD weight.

alt (attributes NOT tags), if the image is a hyperlink are used by the SE's for KWD relevancy of the image link.

I'm not aware of an alt ATTRIBUTE having a length limit, but the idea of the attribute is for those who cannot view images, it's meant to be the 'alternative' info that is displayed in place of the image, so it needs to be of use to a real person and not just KWD spammy!

Plus if the image isn't wrapped in an anchor hyperlink, it won't carry any SEO value.

If an image is simply within the document for design purposes and not as 'real' content, empty alt attributes is the correct thing to do.

#3 headquarters

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 07:47 AM


Thanks NASA.

To follow up on your helpful input, what would be a reasonable word number limit to an img file name being used as anchor text in an image link - whilst remaining robot-friendly?

#4 Randy

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 07:56 AM

umm... I think you missed NASA's point. This being that for normal search your proposition of changing all of the image names is a waste of time and effort. If you're shooting for Image Search the filename might help, but that's a whole different ballgame than normal search.

In fact, there is some evidence pointing to stuffing keywords into non-relevant images getting a page slapped by Google if you run PPC and that's your landing page.

To answer your question about the filename length directly, that's going to depend upon the server your site is hosted on. They all have some sort of limit, and its limit is going to be far shorter than anything Google etal may place on filenames.

In addition if you're on a *nix (that's Unix/Linux) system you shouldn't have any spaces in the file names to begin with. A space is an illegal character for files and paths for these systems. Some will allow you to upload such files and they might even generally work, but they can be a pain to deal with since they contain illegal characters. Been there, done that. Had a hosting client who uploaded a bunch of images with spaces in the filenames then I had to be called in to go in to manually delete them, one-at-a-time, because they couldn't via their FTP software.

If you're talking about normal search, tweaking the image filenames in the way you've laid out is not worth it.

#5 Jill

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 08:29 AM

Are you looking to be found in image searches?

#6 headquarters

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 08:48 AM

QUOTE(Randy @ Apr 24 2009, 08:56 AM) View Post
umm... I think you missed NASA's point. This being that for normal search your proposition of changing all of the image names is a waste of time and effort. If you're shooting for Image Search the filename might help, but that's a whole different ballgame than normal search.

In fact, there is some evidence pointing to stuffing keywords into non-relevant images getting a page slapped by Google if you run PPC and that's your landing page.

To answer your question about the filename length directly, that's going to depend upon the server your site is hosted on. They all have some sort of limit, and its limit is going to be far shorter than anything Google etal may place on filenames.

In addition if you're on a *nix (that's Unix/Linux) system you shouldn't have any spaces in the file names to begin with. A space is an illegal character for files and paths for these systems. Some will allow you to upload such files and they might even generally work, but they can be a pain to deal with since they contain illegal characters. Been there, done that. Had a hosting client who uploaded a bunch of images with spaces in the filenames then I had to be called in to go in to manually delete them, one-at-a-time, because they couldn't via their FTP software.

If you're talking about normal search, tweaking the image filenames in the way you've laid out is not worth it.


Thanks Randy.

I had been considering image names from both a normal search and image search point of view, but I see now that from an SEO standpoint, it's really only worth considering them with regards to image search.

Thanks also for the advice on spaces as illegal characters.

Thank you for your feedback it is much appreciated!

headquarters

#7 MarkisLearning

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:08 AM

Have you done any research on this using Google Images to see what results turned up answering your questions?

#8 headquarters

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:16 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Apr 24 2009, 09:29 AM) View Post
Are you looking to be found in image searches?


hi Jill,

I was thinking originally about normal searches and image searches, but from the response posts above I see that the image file name adjustments I was considering won't do much for normal searches. So yes, now I would be looking at it chiefly from a image search ranking point of view. I'm still considering the alt attributes though from a "normal" search results point of view as well as an image search results one (please see question 3 below, thanks.)

Please study this programming embedded example and let me know if I am on track if you would, thanks:

<img src="img/roses_flower_shop_anytown_weddings_mothers_day.jpg" width="130" height="144" alt="Rose's Flower Shop: Anytown's number one choice for Mother's Day">

My questions with regards to the above example are:

1) Can I "steer" the robot to favoured images by using keyword elaborated img names in such favoured images, while leaving images that I don't want displayed (as much as the favoured ones) with non-optomized kwd-less names, so that they're less likely to get picked up in image searches?

2) Do the underscores allow for a legal file name while providing independence of each word from a search engine pick up point of view?

3) Also, just to confirm from what's been previously posted, with regards to the above example, can I expect the kwd-oriented alt attribute in the example to possibly contribute to normal search ranking results (as opposed to image search results)?
(I realize now that there is potentially a server imposed limit to length here - as well as browser graphic display result considerations for those who are visiting site without image display.)

Thanks for your time, consideration and feedback,

headquarters

Edited by headquarters, 24 April 2009 - 09:23 AM.


#9 NASA

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:43 AM

1. underscores are not considered word separators, so if you are going to get any benfit, you need to use hyphens.

2. Legal file name yes, but see point 1.

3. it only contributes to the SE's / Ranking if the image is a hyperlink to another page, then the alt atribute text is used as KWD relevancy for the landing page.

In the old DOS days filenames could only be 8 characters, then it became 15char. Now it's alot more, but as Randy says, dependent on OS and OS version.

I have a html file with the following name
QUOTE
mortgage-payment-protection-insurance-advice.html
and have not had any problems, but this is on a windows box, so it may vary on a *nix box.

#10 Jill

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 09:56 AM

Me thinks most people only search for images to steal 'em...

#11 NASA

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 10:32 AM

I think you could be right Jill, Well that's what I use the image search for!

blackhat.gif bag.gif cop.gif

#12 Randy

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 10:56 AM

QUOTE
Me thinks most people only search for images to steal 'em...


This I can confirm. In large part at least. I have actually had to file suit against a handful of people over the years for stealing original, copyrighted images. The suits was necessary because there were actual damages. These are more than just your ordinary photos or images, and were often being lifted by competitors and sold as their own work.

In every one of those suits one of the questions that gets asked is where/how they found the images in the first place. Every one who had an answer to the question said they found them via image search.

On the other hand, using image search makes finding the thief's much easier, especially if they're not smart enough to change the image filename in the first place. giggle.gif

QUOTE
<img src="img/roses_flower_shop_anytown_weddings_mothers_day.jpg" width="130" height="144" alt="Rose's Flower Shop: Anytown's number one choice for Mother's Day">


That's looking mighty spammy to me at first glance.

As mentioned above you'd first want to use hyphens instead of underscores. But beyond that I think you're going way, way too far with it.

I could see an image being named roses.jpg or flower-shop.jpg or possibly even anytown-flower-shop.jpg. But you're trying to do too much with too little IMHO. Do that in the image tags and a few other places and you stand a decent chance of getting dinged for spamming eventually.

#13 headquarters

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 06:29 PM

QUOTE(MarkisLearning @ Apr 24 2009, 10:08 AM) View Post
Have you done any research on this using Google Images to see what results turned up answering your questions?


hi MarkisLearning, no I haven't done any research on this using Google images. Like you, I'm learning so I was trying to clarify what might be worthwile doing before I do anything.

Thanks all for chiming in on this . . . I definitely have a better idea on just what might and might not be worthwile.




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