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ALT Tags - is this right?

Posted on 2007-10-11
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
I am putting together a new design for my site and have really been doing a lot of research on SEO.  I am not looking to be deceitful (or trying to trick search engines) in optimizing my site, only wanting to do it correctly.  There is some filler text in place until I go through and rewrite some text.  My questions is regarding the ALT Tags.  Am I being to aggressive with my wording, for instance, on the sidebar there is an image that is a separator between the three sidebar areas.  Should I not direct these toward what I do or should I simply give it an alt tag of "cell separator" or something.  Thanks for the help

http://caodesigns.com/temp/temp.htm
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Question by:chadaort
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weikelbob earned 1000 total points
ID: 20058729
Although some people will say otherwise, alt tags should be used for what they are made for and not for filling them full of keywords. For more info, see:

http://www.seo-blog.com/alt-tag.php
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by:humeniuk
humeniuk earned 1000 total points
ID: 20058797
Weikelbob is correct about the general approach you should take.  In your specific case, you have several examples like this ...

<img src="images/menu_seperator.gif" width="5" height="13" alt="website design" />

You are looking for trouble with these.  The alt tag should accurately reflect the content of the image.  If it does not and you insert keywords instead, you are engaging in keyword spamming.
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Author Comment

by:chadaort
ID: 20058901
alright.... should I call it simply what it is a "separator" and if so should each one be a little different?
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Author Comment

by:chadaort
ID: 20058912
also the little .gifs that show up beside a link.  Is this accepatable to reference this alt with the link or should it be something like "link arrow"?
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 20058956
No need to complicate your life by trying to make each one different.  Just use "separator" and be done with it.  Likewise with your list bullets.  
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Author Comment

by:chadaort
ID: 20059016
thanks again...if you don't mind would you look at it again and tell if this is acceptable?  
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 20059197
Glad to be able to help and thanks for the A.

To be honest, I think you are still pushing it with examples like these ...
<img src="images/questions.png" ... alt="question mark illustrating contact me for unique website design" />
<img src="images/link_image.gif" ... alt="link to contact me for website design" />
<img src="images/light.png" ... alt="light illustrating ideas for good website design" />
<img src="images/link_image.gif" ... alt="link to quote form for unique website design" />

And some of these are even little 7px x 7px icons !  These will probably not harm you, but there is a risk.  What is certain is that the benefit of including them is virtually nil, certainly nothing worth taking any kind of risk for.  It's simply bad practice from an SEO perspective.

It does draw attention to the fact that right beside those graphics you have not used your keywords in your anchor text, ie. "Let's talk, contact me" and "Get a quote".  This would be completely legitimate and would also be beneficial.
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 20059205
Perhaps weikelbob will weigh in on that as well.  I would be interested in hearing his thoughts as well.
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Expert Comment

by:weikelbob
ID: 20059328
As far as these go:

<img src="images/questions.png" ... alt="question mark illustrating contact me for unique website design" />
<img src="images/link_image.gif" ... alt="link to contact me for website design" />
<img src="images/light.png" ... alt="light illustrating ideas for good website design" />
<img src="images/link_image.gif" ... alt="link to quote form for unique website design" />

humeniuk is correct, the inclusion of the word "website design" in these alt tags can do no good. Google, more and more as time goes on, looks for keyword spamming like this.

Using the alt tags only as descriptions with no keywords unless they would appear naturally is good SEO.

If I had to make a guess, I'd say that Google is not going to ban you from it's index because of a few keywords in your alt tags, but the bottom line is that keyword spamming in alt tags cannot do anything good.

And who knows in the future how strict google will get with keyword spamming.
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