Image Alt Tag
The image alt tag is a valuable area of web page real estate
for some websites. The image alt tag historically has been
one of the most neglected areas that SEO's and webmasters
often overlook. With the advent of image search by Google,
Yahoo and others, business owners have been getting wise to
the usefulness of the image alt tag for properly describing
photos and graphics and getting found in the image search
But, with this new found popularity has also come abuse.
The image alt tag provides people with disabilities (along
with those waiting on a slow loading website) a textual indication
of what the photo or graphic is about. The image alt tag (or
image alternative tag) is text that in few words as possible
describes one image.
Now, this is where the abuse has come into play. Those who
are new to search engine optimization will often use the image
alt tag area as if it were a place to put a commercial for
one's website. While this area should have enough text to
describe the image, it should not be a place for keyword stuffing
or for running a commercial advertisement.
Photography sites and other graphically intensive websites
will benefit greatly from having optimized image alt tag areas.
But, since this area is easily abused (and penalized by the
search engines) diligent care must be taken in this area to
use it only for the purpose for which it was and is intended.
Sometimes web pages are buried in the rankings simply because
they have one image alt tag that is either stuffed with keywords
or has too much text in it. Removal of this text usually results
in a quick lifting of the penalty.
So, how long is too long of a description for the image alt
tag area? While more words may not get a page penalized, restricting
this area to a conservative two or three words will usually
do no harm and will usually help in the image search engines.