SEO text links vs. buttons alt-tag

Hi again experts!  

I have two colors on my pages, one column dark, other light.  Causes problems for roll-over on text links, and so I was considering putting the side bar navigation into buttons with alt ON.

Hard question to answer, giventhat SE's have such complex criterium for values, people using alt-tags for keyword slamming, etc....I'm guessing here.  Don't want to not know something I should be wary of.

So the link - IS THIS FOR YOU?, would be a button, and it's alt would be?  IS THIS FOR YOU?  if that's what I wanted it to say, and hyperlink to the IS THIS FOR YOU page, which is actually titled something else, because it's really Golf-Game-Training Information as to why you might want this.......

Actually my navigation text links to the pages in the site, are not keyword worthy anyway.  They are more user-friendly, so maybe I don't care.  But if should I change them later, which is likely, the question remains for buttons vs. text link - knowing the latter is preferred, but wondering if the se's will read these buttons as the navigation they are, and how to ensure I don't botch something picky I should be aware of.

I am aware of Flash not being read, and my header is a "flash movie" containing a few links, not concerned.  I really don't want to DO java navigation; however, if the SE's read that better, I will do that instead of buttons?  That is an important part of this question - I'm aware that Flash navigation is not prescribed and why, and that text links are the best - however what about all the rest?  smile.  Buttons, java menus, etc.?  And would the fact that I have a site-map text link to a site-map that lists all links help - how much does that weigh?

 I've reviewed many posts, however, not really getting the direct question answered so any tips, information would be greatly appreciated.


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humeniukConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The major search engines do try to follow most kinds of links.  Their goal is to collect and index information, after all.  However, some links are more easily followed than others and - within the context of understanding that search engines see links as weighted votes - different kinds of links are not necessarily equally valued.  On both of these counts, text links are the most effective - they are the easiest kind of link to follow and good anchor text carries more weight than alt tags or whatever can be extracted from javascript or flash.

Big picture - you should definitely heed Google's advice to make pages for users, not for search engines.  There are a lot of great technologies available that can potentially enhance basic html/css.  The trick is to only use them when they do enhance the user's experience.  Just understand that what a search engine considers an enhancement and what a flash designer considers an enhancement are two different things.  The search engines regard the web as an information medium.  Therefore, there is little or nothing that stands above the effective presentation of high-quality information in their estimation.  Which do you think the search engines would place a higher value on - simple, effective navigation or a navigation system that serves your color scheme first and foremost?

"And would the fact that I have a site-map text link to a site-map that lists all links help - how much does that weigh?"
Yes, this is relevant.  A good text link site-map with effective anchor text is always a good idea, but if you are in the rare (at best) situation that you need to use an alternative form of primary navigation, it becomes essential.
imagraphicxAuthor Commented:
Boy are you good!  I always enjoy reading your answers and they always make perfect sense.  Thanks for the read on this question, I just needed sound advice to work a decision.  I think that given the above I will go ahead with the buttons on the left, thanks for "calming me down with sound advice! and information".  I do generally use a nice bit of contextual linking (good relevant anchors) in the body, and as I said, there are only 5 side-bar links that are linked again at the bottom in text, plus site map.  You are terrific, thanks again!
Happy to be able to help out.  The thanks are what makes it worthwhile :)  And thanks to you for the A.
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