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Main Keyword in Alt Image Tags - Acceptable Number of Times Used?
danijelzi




msg:4458696
 6:03 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've noticed a couple of times that some unique product reviews I had posted on both Pandalized and non-Pandalized sites were de-ranked to #50 or lower. What's common for them is use of the main keyword (reviewed product) more than 10 times in alt tags per review. Like alt="blue widget front view" in one image, alt="blue widget lid" in the next one, etc. Image title tags are the same as alt tags or reworded on some images. All of the images are original and alt tags actually describe what's on them. The reviews are originally written. Is there a penalty for alt tag use like this?

 

tedster




msg:4458839
 3:28 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

That does sound like keyword stuffing to me.

The alt attribute should describe the image for browsers that do not display the actual image (assistive technology browsers for users with disabilities) and someone who is "listening" to their browser does not want to hear "keyword, keyword, keyword..." ten times.

Simply put, you don't need to do that in order to rank - you can establish keyword relevance much more simply and naturally. What surprises me is that you have identified this as a Panda issue. It sounds more like Penguin to me.

diberry




msg:4458852
 4:20 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is it correct to use the keywords in the title tag, though? My understanding was it should be something like this, if the article was about a larch:

Title: The Larch
Alt: Tall, straight tree in field

lucy24




msg:4458874
 5:58 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

What's common for them is use of the main keyword (reviewed product) more than 10 times in alt tags per review.

Oh, lord. I have just this second-- really-- finished posting a grumble in another thread about the way g### thinks one of my top keywords is "thumbnail".

You just can't win.

tedster




msg:4458879
 6:22 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is it correct to use the keywords in the title tag, though?

Are you talking about a title element, or a title attribute for the <img> element? Here's the W3C's description of both the title attribute and element: [w3.org...]

The practical key to the title attribute is to recognize that in almost all modern browsers, it generates a tool tip. For this reason, the title element often contains a description of what action a click on a linked image will generate.

If there is no link on the image element, I'm not sure what general purpose a title element would serve that can't be met equally by the alt attribute. However, in some cases I suppose you may want to generate a tool tip for your visitors, so there you would go.

Now, it certainly could be possible that a keyword might be appropriate in a title attribute - but not because you want to get another occurrence of the keyword in your source code. That's just old school SEO stuffing, and it really has been unwise (and unnecessary) for several years.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4458899
 8:05 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

like alt="blue widget front view" in one image, alt="blue widget lid" in the next one, etc.

IMO what you are saying here is that you are describing the item in the image legitimately. I struggle to imagine how else you would describe it?

The alt attribute should describe the image for browsers that do not display the actual image (assistive technology browsers for users with disabilities) and someone who is "listening" to their browser does not want to hear "keyword, keyword, keyword..." ten times.

If someone using a screen reader was to hear "front view", "side view", "lid" it could be argued that adding the word "widget" is a valid way of putting these in context. Without it they could conceivably be left wondering "front view of what".

A few months ago I was with a blind person who was using a screen reader and I was amazed at what he could do. When the reader is working it precedes the alt text with the word "image" so on a page with product descriptions I would say that it would be acceptable to hear "image, blue widget front view", "image, blue widget lid", etc. The question is whether or not Google looks at it in the same way. If it does not then it should.

Robert Charlton




msg:4458910
 8:43 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

...I would say that it would be acceptable to hear "image, blue widget front view", "image, blue widget lid", etc. The question is whether or not Google looks at it in the same way. If it does not then it should.

I would agree. On the other hand, "image, cheap blue widget front view", "image, cheap blue widget lid", might not be OK... and the repetition of "blue" might not be necessary for every image. Ten times on a page does sound excessive.

Though you don't say where you were before the drop, I'm thinking that alt tag stuffing alone did not cause a drop to below #50. If this was Penguin, which is what this sounds like, there must have been a general ambience about the site, its links, etc.

Can you tell us on what dates you observed traffic drops.

Igal Zeifman




msg:4458917
 9:34 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ten times on a page does sound excessive.

Agreed.

It`s 2012. Think quality, not quantity.

Robert Charlton




msg:4458918
 9:40 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

It`s 2012. Think quality, not quantity.

Maybe "expensive blue widgets" only twice. ;)

danijelzi




msg:4458935
 10:13 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've noticed the problem last year on the Pandalized site, and right after April 19th 2012 on the non-Pandalized one. But, the latter doesn't seem to be Pandalized entirely although de-rankings occurred after 04/19, because the only pages with big drops are those with more than 10 images. I have six reviews and about 30 news on the second site. Four of these reviews are with 10 images and unnaturally low rank, while another two reviews are with about 5 images and they rank normally, mostly #1-#5 depending on query. Also, news with a single image rank well.

Regarding the first Pandalized site, I saw improvement (from about #50-#100 to #10-#20) after reducing both number of images and keyword use in alt tags a couple of months ago, but I wasn't sure if the improvement was because of that or some other thing.

I've started this thread since I'm confused about correct use of alt tags. "Front view", "back view" etc. don't fully describe what's on the image and it could look like the images are about some "views", not the reviewed product. On the other side, with the main keyword in alt and title tags (img title="", auto-generated by Wordpress, and mostly match alt tags), I have the keyword repeated 20 times in a row, because images are put right one after another (gallery).


Now, I've made changes so the first image is marked as "blue widget", while the other images are various "views". Will report back what happens.

Thanks you for the replies.

Andy Langton




msg:4458959
 10:58 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

g### thinks one of my top keywords is "thumbnail"


If that's from the Webmaster Tools report, I would just ignore it to be honest. It seems to be based entirely on wordcount and is skewed extremely easily - although with no impact on actual rankings of course. On one site, Google has attempted to extract text from an SWF file - it believes it has found thousands of word repetitions and these dominate the list in Webmaster Tools. I don't think that data is especially useful in evaluating keyword "stuffing".

diberry




msg:4459030
 2:37 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Tedster, I was talking about a title attribute for an image. I didn't realize the title was associated with linked images - I rarely link these images. So I probably just don't need to bother with a title att at all, and just keep providing a description for the alt for people who can't see the image.

danijelzi




msg:4459040
 2:56 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, Tedster thanks for the 'title' explanation. Along with removal of keywords from alt="", I've also removed them from images' title="". The problem with Wordpress galleries is that the CMS auto-generates 'title' from the image file name, so if you have the keyword in the file names x10, you will have x10 keyword used in 'title'. If you completely delete 'title' text via its image manager, it will auto-generate it again. So, the solution is to write something in 'title' manually, but without mentioning the keyword.

I wonder how many blog posts are full of keywords in img title="", because of this Wordpress feature.

menntarra 34




msg:4459126
 6:22 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do we also have to avoid keyword repetation in links' title attributes as well? If yes, then i'll consider removing all of these attributes from my site.

diberry




msg:4459127
 6:23 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

The problem with Wordpress galleries is that the CMS auto-generates 'title' from the image file name, so if you have the keyword in the file names x10, you will have x10 keyword used in 'title'.


Oh, for Pete's sake, that's obnoxious. It's silly to have to add something to your pages to stop it from doing this, but there is a fix. I just put this:

add_filter('the_content', 'remove_img_titles');

function remove_img_titles($text) {

// Get all title="..." tags from the html.
$result = array();
preg_match_all('|title="[^"]*"|U', $text, $result);

// Replace all occurances with an empty string.
foreach($result[0] as $img_tag) {
$text = str_replace($img_tag, '', $text);
}

return $text;
}


in the functions.php file. Worked a treat! Note that it doesn't work on linked images, but that's okay because they should have the title attribute, and I would think it should match the title of the page they're going to take you to.

aleksl




msg:4459144
 7:23 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

tedster: you don't need to do that in order to rank - you can establish keyword relevance much more simply and naturally.


can you please elaborate?

because in our industry Blue Widgets are highly different from Red Widgets, and in fact if I say Widgets people think Green Widgets first (they are so different we don't carry neither Red nor Green Widgets).

That, and Google would love to sell me all their crappy load of traffic for Green Widgets. I have to negative-keyword most of it.

lucy24




msg:4459195
 9:21 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

If that's from the Webmaster Tools report, I would just ignore it to be honest.

Yes, the same one that counts "it's" as a keyword.

tedster




msg:4459205
 9:42 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

can you please elaborate?

because in our industry Blue Widgets are highly different from Red Widgets, and in fact if I say Widgets people think Green Widgets first (they are so different we don't carry neither Red nor Green Widgets).

I've been trying to discuss this for years, but it seems difficult to get anyone to hear what I'm saying - thanks for the invitation.

In the old days, SEO was something like yelling at the search engines, over and over, to make your point about the keyword relevance of your pages. In fact, some of the old algorithms seemed to reward repetition to a very high degree, and in various elements, too.

Things aren't that way anymore. Google gets relevance from a whole lot of off-page signals, semantic signals, etc. The search results even have built in "disambiguation" that is getting better year by year.

Even the idea of "an acceptable number of times" is out of touch with today's algorithm, which is a more holistic or overall calculation than it is a simple checklist or addition.

On-page, say what you need to say - and if that needs to include some kind of disambiguation ("we're NOT talking about...") then say that. Once. The keyword relevance of pages that make up the natural backlink profile (and even their backlinked pages) have become quite powerful. In fact, I think high bounce rates for "wrong" query terms are also a bit deal now.

aleksl




msg:4459237
 11:05 pm on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting observation.

So, technically what you are saying is that it is ok to have something like this as a menu:

Blue Widgets:
* Long
* Short
* Thin
* Clean
* Blah

even if "Long GREEN Widgets" is not your product?

AND Google will algorithmically assign a "long blue widgets" KW to a "Long" link?

I really doubt that, and it would be interesting to see otherwise.

In fact, I bet that if this is your only link to a page, and page is also called "Long.html", on a competitive phrase you are going to be beaten in SERPs by lots of folks with better KW targeting.


I think you may be drawing your conclusion from website(s) with massive amount of links or authority power. I do have one like that , it ranks basically on anything that remotely resembles its niche (it is authority in the niche), no matter if page is well SEO-ed or not.

tedster




msg:4459289
 4:42 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

No. I'm talking about why you don't need to repeat a keyword ten times in various alt attributes. You would not put a keyword in your navigation that isn't discussed in your content, that's just silly.

Planet13




msg:4459296
 5:00 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok, now I have no idea WHAT to put in the alt tags of the photos on our category pages...

If it is a porcelain blue widget, what should I put in the alt tag (considering it will be on the same page as resin blue widgets, bronze blue widgets, stone japanese blue widgets, norwegian sculpted blue widgets, etc.,)?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4459342
 9:00 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

IMO, if you are using the alt tag as it is supposed to be used then a porcelain blue widget should be described as a porcelain blue widget. The words "porcelain blue" may not be enough for someone using a screen reader. They may be confused if it reads "image: porcelain blue", image: stone japanese", etc.

In other words, on a page with a lot of images the text reader's user may lose the the fact that the image is of a widget variation making the word widget perfectly valid in each case. Having said that, this is only my opinion and Google may see things differently. It has been known to be wrong before.

diberry




msg:4459488
 3:03 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't know what Google wants, nor do I really care. The alt tag was designed for people whose eyesight, download speeds or browser choices prevent them from seeing images.

I think what makes sense from a user's perspective is something descriptive. If "porcelain blue widget" tells the user what they need to know, that's what it should be. However, I often try to go beyond that in the alt tag, like I'm actually trying to help a blind person fully experience the image through words: "Medium blue, translucent vase with flared top" for example. They already know from the rest of the page whether it's Norwegian or Japanese or made of glass or ceramic or whatever, so I try to give them something *more* in the alt tag.

And that does help avoid keyword repetition. I don't know if it helps with Google, but I think it adds to user experience. And at this point, I figure if Google is against what my users want then it's not going to maintain 60% dominance much longer and I needn't worry what it wants.

indyank




msg:4459505
 3:33 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am not sure why the repetition of the color blue for alt tags of "different images" on a page should be considered as keyword stuffing. Alt tag is of course for browsers that cannot display images. What Planet13 says makes perfect sense to me. I am equally interested in his question and can anyone who answered that it sounds like keyword stuffing pls. care to explain taking his as an example.

lucy24




msg:4459591
 7:30 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Oh yes and...

The alt tag is also one of the elements Image Search looks at when you search for "picture of..." Not the only element, but one of them.

:: memo to self: go rename that one picture that keeps coming up in the wrong searches ::

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4459631
 10:05 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Alt tags are obsolete. They are not trusted by Google for what they are meant to be but are used as a way to detect spam.

crobb305




msg:4459640
 10:47 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think you can learn a lot just by looking at MC's blog. Look at the source. No keyword metatag. Images are accurately described. I've removed alt text in most cases on my site, or I explicitly say "logo" or "this image shows..." I am not saying this will yield better results, but I think it's a good way to go...or eliminate the alt text altogether. I've seen no negative results in Yahoo/Bing, and I made these changes over a month ago.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4459630
 10:01 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anchor text, as well as image alt tags, are no longer a sign of what the destination(or image) is about because Google believes they can figure that out on their own. Instead, Anchor text(and alt tags) have become a way to spot spam.

You can safely use the word "here" as the anchor text of EVERY link and ommit image alt tags entirely. Google knows. I mean, if it's not going to help your rankings but may actually harm them...
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:19 pm (utc) on May 30, 2012]
[edit reason] fixed posting problem [/edit]

diberry




msg:4459670
 11:55 pm on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

But alt tags are essential for people with low vision browsers. That's what the tag was invented for. Don't stop using it, just stop stuffing it full of keywords in a conspicuous way. Use keywords when it seems natural, don't when it doesn't.

lucy24




msg:4459724
 4:07 am on May 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

Anchor text, as well as image alt tags, are no longer a sign of what the destination(or image) is about because Google believes they can figure that out on their own.

Are they prepared to share their methods with the image-deprived viewer, now that they've terrorized webmasters into deleting all useful information from the location where a voice reader-- or the browser itself-- expects to find it?

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 ( [1] 2 > >
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