homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.204.168.212
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Pubcon Platinum Sponsor 2014
Home / Forums Index / Google / Google News Archive
Forum Library, Charter, Moderator: open

Google News Archive Forum

This 76 message thread spans 3 pages: 76 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Experience with ALT tags
Triggering Google's "over optimised" alarm
brmmbrmm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 7:57 pm on Mar 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd like to share some recent experiences with ALT tags and invite feedback from others. My SEO experience is probably a little unusual. I run a system that offers self-editing templates to around 300 clients. We hide virtually all technology from clients, but we seek to offer SEO partly by advising clients on content, but also (as it is usually over their heads) by automated means.

Up until the end of 2003, one thing that was working quite well was image ALT tags. Now it isn't. We'd automatically/dynamically tag all images which clients put in, with the appropriate target search phrase for a page. We'd also dynamically tag various parts of the template with their phrases.

Around December clients started disappearing from Google completely, and after some investigation, it appears that the ALT tags have been the problem. I have a few "theories", that I'd like to put forward to see if anyone has similar hunches.

1) Google has some kind of ratio between keyword presence in text content and keyword presence in non-text content, and if you overdo the non-content, you're out

2) Google favours large images (not sure if these are dimensionally large or file size large) and if you use keyword rich alt tags on small images you're in trouble, especially if you use them a few times

3) Repetition of the same keyword rich ALT tag is a no-no, unless there is plenty of rich content to balance it out. I have clients where the same keyword rich ALT tag is very relevant, and some do well with it, others are dropped out. Can't work out the difference though - possibly point (2) above.

 

theitboy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 3:46 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Kind of interesting, but how do you know it's the ALT tags? Surely the next step is to change your approach to ALT tags, then report the effect of that? Otherwise you're just guessing.

trimmer80

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 3:51 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

all of the images had the same keyword?

If so it could be that the keyword density was too high and not necessarily correlated to the use of alt tags.

Krapulator

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 5:02 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

My opinion is that Google is now better at discerning and disregarding tricks and shortcuts like overly repetitive alt text.

experienced

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 5:03 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I think if we use different keywords (4 keyword/image) on different of the images there would not be any problem. One thing that is accepted that if you use plenty of keywords in the text and source code, that may be a cause of the OOP.

Your views.

Thanks
Exp...

McMohan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 7:14 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

It is too simplistic to arrive at one cause for drop in ranks post Florida. There can be so many other factors which have caused the problem, which you are probably relating to one reason, that perhaps you are guilty of overdoing.

I regularly use ALT Tags and at no point in time, could I precisely conclude it has anything to do with ranks going up/down.

Wishes

Mc

brmmbrmm

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 9:18 am on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

The "proof" for one of these came when I adjusted the ALT tags to use different ones for each image. After just a few days and several Googlebot visits, a site that had been out of Google on any relevant search (all relevant search terms had been in the ALT tags) was back for just one relevant search. Yet a slightly more relevant search showed nothing. I noticed that the phrase that was now working was the only one where no ALT tag included those words.

landmark

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 2:25 pm on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

What you describe is very typical of post-Florida Google, and is in no way specific to ALT tags. It's just that you put your keywords in ALT tags, so when you dropped on Google you assumed that ALT tags were a problem. IMO you would have seen precisely the same if your keywords had been in ordinary text.

ryan26

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 6:33 pm on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

My opinion is that Google is now better at discerning and disregarding tricks and shortcuts like overly repetitive alt text.

I tend to agree based on what I've monitored over the past few months. Seems like an easy target if they're looking to shoot down conventional keyword stuffing techniques.

simon03

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 11:12 pm on Mar 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

I had no alt tags pre-florida/austin and was wiped. I have now added a fair amount of alt text and I'm back.

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 12:00 am on Mar 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Note that this isn't a tag; it is an attribute, and I mention it purely because it becomes important when you start talking about title tags as opposed to title attributes. For alt, it is always an attribute.

:2c:

Ride45

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 12:12 am on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I believe Google works like this:

* If you stuff your ALT tags with keywords you get penalized

* If use non-descriptive text for ALT tags you get penalized because Google likes web sites that are accessible, and without ALT tags even on small images your site is inaccessible. This "may" include having target keywords for every ALT tag, but these are still non-descript. They are obvious attempts at manipulating and not serving the ALT tag purpose.

* If you don't use alt tags your site will produce warnings with W3. Google likes (especially for spidering) sites that are easy to read and follow including having every ALT tag labelled.

Just my 2 cents

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 12:22 am on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

For "tag", read "attribute".

Ride45

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 2:25 am on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sure, if we want to be technically correct, the image attribute ALT, which is contained within the IMG tag :)

Chris_D

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 6:43 am on Mar 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think Google ignores the alt attribute.

<= Mouse over the Stickymail graphic in your profile - the alt attribute is 'local msg'.

That alt attribute appears at least 10 times on every page here at webmaster world. alt="local msg"

So you'd expect it was indexed?

Nup.

There were about 201,000 Google results for site:www.webmasterworld.com webmasterworld

Your search - site:www.webmasterworld.com webmasterworld "local msg" - did not match any documents.

I think you're barking up the wrong tree - alt attributes are good for accessibility by text browsers, and for the disabled - use them for that purpose.

Chris_D
Sydney Australia

webtress

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 5:02 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

brmmbrmm, You are right about over optimizing with the alt tag. I have noticed this being pick up in the results. Also when the alt tag is used anywhere above the text content this will be pick up as the first text on the page such as site name on logo,or any header images like my account,cart,... making the content in the header appear on all pages causing duplicate content to be read. Navigation bread crumbs do this also. One particular site I work with this tag is automatically generated via the code. And there is no choice to adjust the tag without changes to the code. And I'm no PHP expert. I asked about removing these. And boy did I get blasted. I know it makes the sites accessible and all that. But if a site gets penalized for excess keywords or duplicate content then it won't be accessible anyway.

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 5:24 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

Some food for thought on the issue of repetition:

Effectiveness of the alt attribute aside, one thing to consider is that pretty much anything you repeat throughout the entire website (like, "Widget-Mania!") is going to be dampened. Thus, when a product manufacturer does a search for their product, post-Florida their website no longer appears in the first twelve positions of the serps.

You now find that one or two results will come from the manufacturer and the rest of the serps are from sites that talk about it in one way or the other. For instance, I did a Google search for "alt text w3c" which gave me the first two results from w3c, and the rest from sites that talk about it.

Doing a site search of the w3.org for the term "alt text" returns 4,330 results.

A search in Yahoo! returns 5 results from w3.org in the top 10, and the first position is held by a site other than the W3C (now there's food for thought!)

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 6:18 pm on Mar 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> Mouse over the Stickymail graphic in your profile <<

Alt text should not pop up on mouseover. If it does, then that is a browser bug. The title attribute is the one that should pop up. The alt text is alternative text shown when the image does not load or image loading is switched off.

landmark

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 9:03 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Alt text should not pop up on mouseover.

Always has done in Internet Explorer.

Hagstrom

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 9:19 am on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Your search - site:www.webmasterworld.com webmasterworld "local msg" - did not match any documents.

There is one result now - namely this thread ;)

BallochBD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 12:21 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a site that is in number two position for widgets Glasgow (both with and without quotes). The actual phrase is not used anywhere on the page text. The word widgets does appear twice and the word Glasgow once.

Widgets is used twice in the page title and the two words together are the listed in my Meta keywords. The ONLY other time the two words appear together is on a page header image alt attribute. This would appear to be very significant since my word widgets is very competitive. This page was not deliberately optimised for this particular term. It's high rank is purely coincidence and I am very surprised that it is there at all.

This would appear to fall in with Google's accessibility philosophy since alt text is also used for visually impaired users who use speech synthesizers with text-only browsers that cause this text to be spoken out loud.

WRT the over use of keywords in alt tags/attributes, let's say that you have a navigation menu with twenty options selectable by clicking an interactive button based on an image. Let's say that you named the alt text on this image "widgets menu button". Would it not be valid to name all twenty of them the same? If so would you be penalised for doing so?

Grace

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 1:05 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

After Brandy Update some changes i observed are

* Alt tags have least effect
* Search terms in Domain names have more weightage
* backlinks are not getting updated
* Inner pages are not being crawled
(the content changes are not reflected even after a month)
* Some pages from sites such as www.amazon.com appear in top SERP's just because they have the search term specified once on the page.

any comments

[edited by: Grace at 2:32 pm (utc) on Mar. 8, 2004]

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 2:21 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Let's say that you named the alt text on this image "widgets menu button". Would it not be valid to name all twenty of them the same? If so would you be penalised for doing so?

A disabled user would probably hope the answer is "Yes." :-)

A better solution would be simply to use the alt text "button." Or, even better, to dump the buttons and use text links.

Ride45

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 2:53 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

You may want to even leave the "widgets" out of "widgets button" and just go for "button" which is more to the point. Although I have seen people use ALT text for images by cascading from the top of the page to the bottom starting with their most important search terms at the top and ending with less important ones at the bottom. I have also seen them leave out ALT for small images. Altough, I have ALT text labelled let say as "arrow graphic" about 25 times on one page and I have never been penalized for it.

Actually, I just checked some comeptitor sites and they actually have ALT text stuffed with keywords. It's an obvious attempt to gain rank in SERPS, yet they are #1 in the results! I think it's just a coincidence, where Google just ignores ALT text and looks at the other important stuff like "content" and "backlinks".

creative craig

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 3:06 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Always has done in Internet Explorer.

That does not mean that it is right though!

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 5:01 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> >> Alt text should not pop up on mouseover. << <<

>> Always has done in Internet Explorer. <<

That IS a bug. It is NOT the correct response.

BallochBD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 6:06 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Can anyone comment on the significance of my previous message? (Number 21 in this thread.) Is there no significance in the fact that I achieved a very high ranking when the search phrase does not appear in the page title or page text, only in alt text?

richlowe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 6:57 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

That IS a bug. It is NOT the correct response.

It is not a bug. It is part of the MICROSOFT internet explorer specification and implementation. It is not part of the W3C specification. However, having the text show when you mouse over is INTENTIONAL and was specifically designed into IE.

BallochBD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 7:26 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

This thread is about the significance of alt text folks, not the functionality of Internet Explorer.

webtress

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 22429 posted 8:08 pm on Mar 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Can anyone comment on the significance of my previous message? (Number 21 in this thread.) Is there no significance in the fact that I achieved a very high ranking when the search phrase does not appear in the page title or page text, only in alt text?

The ONLY other time the two words appear together is on a page header image alt attribute

As I stated above google will also read the tag from the header image.

Does the keyphrase appear in the description of the page for that search result on google? If it is appearing in the description then yes it is having an impact. Since the phrase is only used once as a phrase, but the words appear elsewhere seprateley then, phrase + words = content match.

This 76 message thread spans 3 pages: 76 ( [1] 2 3 > >
Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  
 

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google News Archive
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved