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Image Based Links vs Text Based Links - The Battle
Do image based links have any SEO value
dchamp




msg:3421069
 7:45 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

So I get into a back and forth discussion about the SEO value of text based links over image based links. I contend that image based links pass 0 PR and provide little or no equity. Can someone back me up here?

Thanks!
DC

 

pageoneresults




msg:3421074
 7:51 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

So I get into a back and forth discussion about the SEO value of text based links over image based links. I contend that image based links pass 0 PR and provide little or no equity. Can someone back me up here?

Most all links pass value. Its the level of value that is in question. A textual link is at the top of the food chain, it doesn't get any better than that. Image links are okay and perform well. Image links that are formatted properly and utilize accessibility attributes like the alt attribute are going to perform better than those that don't.

Image links merged in with <h> elements do extremely well.

<h1><a title="" href=""><img class="fr" src="" alt="">Oh foo. Look at all this neat accessibility stuff surrounding me.</a></h1>

.fr{float:right;}

dchamp




msg:3421107
 8:25 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

thanks alot pageoneresults...

Very informative...

kgam




msg:3421190
 10:16 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I had not thought about putting image links into <h> tags before. Interesting idea...

Quadrille




msg:3421193
 10:22 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

A link is a link; text links are 'better' simply because they may relate specifically to a 'good' search term; an image without an ALT can't do that.

BTW; using Hx tags around an image is search engine spam; and against coding 'good practice', though I'm not sure how likely it will be detected. It's the ALT (and maybe the 'title') that provide the benefit.

Isn't using Hx with an image about the same as keyword stuffing a comment tag? ;)

pageoneresults




msg:3421202
 10:34 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

BTW; using Hx tags around an image is search engine spam; and against coding 'good practice', though I'm not sure how likely it will be detected.

Care to show me where that is in writing?

Look at the implementation. I have an image that sits at the top right of the page and it is floated right in the <h> Element, is there really anything wrong with that? Other than "you" classify it as spam?

I also do it with <p> elements, <ul> elements, <ol> elements. Is that all spam too?

Isn't using Hx with an image about the same as keyword stuffing a comment tag?

Not based on any of the guidelines I've read over the years. Got something I haven't seen?

Quadrille




msg:3421228
 11:12 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

You aren't doing it for visitors; you are doing it for the SEs only.

That's search engine spam - surely you knew that?

pageoneresults




msg:3421236
 11:25 pm on Aug 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

You aren't doing it for visitors; you are doing it for the SEs only.

Who says?

I'm doing it as part of a design element. I've been doing it for years without any negative effect. It makes for an interesting visual when the image and anchor text are connected.

That's search engine spam - surely you knew that?

No, I didn't know that and I would beg to differ with your opinions on the implementation. You still haven't shown me anything in writing that states it is improper use or that it is classifed as search engine spam.

and against coding 'good practice'

This has to be in writing somewhere?

So, all of this is "search engine spam" from "your perspective"?

<h><a title="Foo" href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo">Oh foo. Look at all this neat accessibility stuff surrounding me.</a></h>

<p><a title="Foo" href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo"></a>Content here, notice it is after the closing </a> in this instance as I surely wouldn't link an entire paragraph. But...</p>

<p><a title="Foo" href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo">Foo</a> - Content here, notice that I have anchor text associated with the image. And, my paragraph content is most likely going to be relevant to that image. Anything wrong with this implementation?</p>

<ul>
<li><a href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo">Foo</a> - Oh, shame on me! This has surely got to be search engine spam too, eh?</li>
</ul>

And then, the most important part of the equation...

.fr{float:right;}
.fl{float:left;}

I didn't originally intend on my image being linked within an <h> element, it just happened. There I was one day dragging and dropping in FrontPage and I noticed that I could get images to align perfectly at the top right of the page without using a <table>. It just happened to be tucked right inside the <h> element and floated to the right or left depending on the layout. That was over 10 years ago. :)

If there has been any associated search engine benefit, great. If not, no loss as it is about presentation.

Quadrille




msg:3421252
 12:05 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Putting an image in Hx tags has zero conceivable benefit for visitors.

As it happens, it probably has zero benefit with SEs; none-the-less, YOU are doing it purely for (perceived) SE benefit.

That's Search Engine Spam; by definition. The fact is is futile does not change your intention.

Indeed, if that isn't SE spam, how would you define SE spam?

No, don't worry - it would take this thread even more off-topic. Let's agree to differ.

pageoneresults




msg:3421327
 2:11 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

You still haven't provided me with anything in writing that clearly states this type of implementation is considered search engine spam, I hate that term. ;)

Putting an image in Hx tags has zero conceivable benefit for visitors.

Presentation

Remember, this is all about presentation, the visual. I keep things simple. I usually work within one containing <div> for main content. Within that <div> I will apply various styling to achieve the effect of what looks like a tabled layout. I do that by using floats within block level elements, applying margins, padding, etc.

As it happens, it probably has zero benefit with SEs; none-the-less, YOU are doing it purely for (perceived) SE benefit.

But I've already stated that I'm not doing it for SE Benefit and that it was for visual presentation and that whatever SE benefits were an unexpected plus.

That's Search Engine Spam; by definition.

No, that sounds like Search Engine Spam by Quadrille's definition. You still haven't shown me any documentation, guidelines, protocols, etc. that state the implementations as shown above are search engine spam. Stop skirting the request please. ;)

The fact is is futile does not change your intention.

Okay, so let's change my original intention. I'm going to slap this linked image inside the <h> element in hopes of gaining better visibility. In the process, I realize that "hey, I can position this image here and align it right and viola, I don't need to use a table and the text flows nicely around it.

Now, let's slap that same linked image inside a <p> element. What's the difference? And what benefit does it have within the <p> element? Hmmm, surrounding text comes to mind. Relative comes to mind as I'm not going to have an image sitting there that isn't relative to the page. How does that become search engine spam?

Indeed, if that isn't SE spam, how would you define SE spam?

Anything that can't be detected by most of us including the SEs themselves. That is what I truly classify as SE spam.

No, don't worry - it would take this thread even more off-topic. Let's agree to differ.

No, I don't think we are going too far off topic. In fact, we are dead on. We're talking about the value of a link from a text vs image environment. The value of that link can be influenced (just by happenstance) based on where it is positioned. I really hate to give this stuff away but hey, that's what we are here for.

The implementation was surely not intended to be search engine spam and I for one would not use it if "I knew" that it were. I've read thousands of pages from the W3 and not once have I read anything in regards to what you are saying.

I think our readers would also like to see some backup documentation on this implementation being classified as search engine spam. I know I would. ;)

pageoneresults




msg:3421328
 2:15 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Let's do an actual code example based on my layout and what you would want me to do.

<h><a title="Foo" href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo">Oh foo. Look at all this neat accessibility stuff surrounding me.</a></h>

Okay, the above is the original implementation which you classify as search engine spam. Well then, let's break it up and see if I can appease your requirements...

<div><a title="Foo" href="foo.asp"><img class="fr" src="foo.gif" alt="Foo">Oh foo. Here's a boring <div> with no real semantic meaning. Oh, and now I need to accomodate for zero margins and padding for two elements.</div>
<h>Oh foo. Where'd everyone go?</h>

Why would my implementation be considered spam and the second one not? Just because its inside an <h> element? What if it were some other block level element as I describe above and which I do day in and day out?

If you want your images to perform, try the above methods. Its all about the surrounding environment. Think Inline and Inside the Box!

<added> Also, your implementation, if I want to have the <h> element or whatever element surrounding the image, linked, would require me to now use two (02) hrefs. I firmly believe in trimming out the fat. Having two links going to the same destination that close together has to negate something. I've seen instances where there were three links due to the way the layout was structured, yuck! Now why would I want to do that. Surely that would be classified as spam in Quadrille's Protocols?

JohnRoy




msg:3421387
 4:01 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would side with the theory that using Hx tags around an image is NOT search engine spam; provided that's it's done for the purpose of neat presentation.

.
Back to topic:

Image links are broad links.
Text links are targeted links.
Any title="" or alt="" in image based links, are "text links" nested into images.

Marcia




msg:3421391
 4:13 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

The title= attribute isn't handled the same way as the alt= attribute in a link. It can be plainly seen by examining the text-only Google cache for a page.

Quadrille




msg:3421553
 9:19 am on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Indeed, if that isn't SE spam, how would you define SE spam?

Anything that can't be detected by most of us including the SEs themselves. That is what I truly classify as SE spam.

Interesting definition, but not the one used by search engines. If you do something purely to try and game the SEs, that's search engine spam. Period. And you said:

Image links merged in with <h> elements do extremely well.

Now, I believe that suggestion with (I assume) your knowledge that it will not help visitors, makes the action an attempt to game SEs.

Of course that isn't a specific protocol saying 'images in Hx tags is spam'; there isn't a protocol for most specific instances of spam. But there have been general statement by SEs since before Google existed, that attempts to game them is spam.

That's what spam is, was and always will be. To define spam in terms of it's detectability is, disingenuous, to say the least.

I know that you don't like that. I know that you will never agree with me; any more than I will ever agree with you, however many code examples you post. They miss the point. The point is the intention. So, as I said, there really is no point in squabbling about it.

pageoneresults




msg:3421866
 3:22 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting definition, but not the one used by search engines.

The one used by search engines doesn't say anything about the implementation above.

If you do something purely to try and game the SEs, that's search engine spam. Period.

Dude, then everything you, I and everyone else around here is doing is considered search engine spam. Period.

Image links merged in with <h> elements do extremely well.

Yup I did. And then I explained how I happened to come across the implementation and it was "purely" for presentation. And, at the same time, I've got my users covered.

Now, I believe that suggestion with (I assume) your knowledge that it will not help visitors, makes the action an attempt to game SEs.

Nope, not even close to convinced, not even an inkling or doubt that the above is search engine spam. You're barking up the wrong tree.

Of course that isn't a specific protocol saying 'images in Hx tags is spam'; there isn't a protocol for most specific instances of spam.

There you have it. Spam is in the eye's of the beholder. And Quadrille, you're a spammer too if I use your definition.

But there have been general statement by SEs since before Google existed, that attempts to game them is spam.

Show me one where the above examples are used and that someone else besides you perceive this as spam.

That's what spam is, was and always will be.

No, SPAM is canned luncheon meat from Hormel. Spam is also UCE, UBE, etc. Until someone with authority, like one of the big three come out and define what is spam and what is not, I guess we won't ever get an answer to this, eh?

To define spam in terms of it's detectability is, disingenuous, to say the least.

Its not spam if its detectable.

I know that you don't like that.

Actually I'm enjoying this. No one has ever called me a spammer before and I kind of take offense to that title. So, I want to make sure that our readers understand that the above code examples are not spam. And, until you come up with something in writing from an authority, I will adamantly support my stance. ;)

They miss the point. The point is the intention.

Quadrille, I explained how this all came about and what the original intentions were (to float an image right or left within a block level element), and how the original intentions ended up providing a little bit of SE benefit.

pageoneresults




msg:3421928
 3:56 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'll step up to the plate and provide some authoritative documentation on what is happening above. Mind you, this is from the W3C, it doesn't get more authoritative than that. ;)

7.5.5 Headings: The H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 elements
[w3.org...]

<!ENTITY % heading "H1H2H3H4H5H6">
<!--
There are six levels of headings from H1 (the most important)
to H6 (the least important).
-->

<!ELEMENT (%heading;) - - [b](%inline;)*[/b] -- heading -->
<!ATTLIST (%heading;)
%attrs; -- %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
>

Note that I've bolded the (%inline;)* so that you, Quadrille, can see that the implementation as shown is allowable based on the HTML guidelines.

From O'Reilly
HTML: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition...

Allowed Heading Content
A heading may contain any element allowed in text, including conventional text, link anchors (<a>), images (<img>), line breaks (<br>), font embellishments (<b>, <i>, <tt>, <u>, <strike>, <big>, <small>, <sup>, <sub>, and <font>), and content-based style changes (<cite>, <code>, <dfn>, <em>, <kbd>, <samp>, <strong>, and <var>).

Whew! That's a lot of stuff that can be placed inside an <h> element. Is all that search engine spam Quadrille?

[edited by: encyclo at 1:59 pm (utc) on Aug. 15, 2007]
[edit reason] fixed bbcode error [/edit]

Quadrille




msg:3421930
 4:00 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Methinks he doth protest too much.

And the all seo is spam argument is particularly poor defence. But there ya go ;)

Marcia




msg:3421950
 4:16 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

SEO is search engine optimization, which by its very definition indicates actions directed toward increasing visibility in the search engines. SEO is not ever for users, it's always for the search engines.

That's what every single person, without exception, who calls themselves an SEO or practices SEO is doing. Otherwise, it would be called VO - visitor optimization.

buckworks




msg:3421952
 4:17 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Quadrille, the vast majority of the time I agree with you and enjoy your posts, but I think you're way off base here.

If the content of the image relates to the main topic of the page, it could easily make optimum semantic sense to put the image and its associated attributes in the <h1></h1>.

Search engines like good semantic structure. GOOD SEMANTIC STRUCTURE IS NOT SPAM, it's optimization in the purest and best sense of the word.

{edited to add missing word)

[edited by: buckworks at 4:23 pm (utc) on Aug. 14, 2007]

buckworks




msg:3421959
 4:19 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

SEO is not ever for users

Marcia, I strongly disagree with that.

The best SEO pleases the search engines AND makes your pages more user-friendly.

pageoneresults




msg:3421974
 4:44 pm on Aug 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

The best SEO pleases the search engines AND makes your pages more user-friendly.

I'm going to add a third item to the above...

The best SEO pleases the search engines AND makes your pages more user-friendly AND makes your pages more design-friendly.

Murdoch




msg:3422511
 7:56 am on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

If everyone only wrote for users and not for the search engines, most websites (with the exception of huge corporate sites) would look COMPLETELY different.

It's true, many times things that are good for users, like descriptive meta tags and anchor text is good for users, but that doesn't mean that SEO is intended for users. Any and all SEO is done for visibility in the search engines. Period.

I don't understand why this is such a big deal anyway. If we're all supposed to be thinking like users then who cares what is between an H tag? Only the spam police, so let's just leave that duty to Google and the others.

buckworks




msg:3422767
 1:52 pm on Aug 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

If everyone only wrote for users and not for the search engines, most websites (with the exception of huge corporate sites) would look COMPLETELY different.

A sweeping generalization that can't be proven.

Any and all SEO is done for visibility in the search engines. Period.

Duh ... of course SEO is done for better visibility in the search engines! That's another sweeping generalization and a circular argument to boot.

But not everything that happens to be good SEO is done primarily for SEO reasons. Several design considerations are worth aiming for with or without search engines. User benefit is the primary goal, and the fact that they'll improve your SEO is a happy by-product.

A few easy examples:

- using external CSS to reduce code bloat
- directory structure that results in short, meaningful URLs
- validating your code

The biggest of all:

- designing your page so it will come across well to someone accessing it with an audible browser reader

Marcia




msg:3424325
 2:14 am on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Quadrille said, in response to pageoneresults:

BTW; using Hx tags around an image is search engine spam; and against coding 'good practice', though I'm not sure how likely it will be detected. It's the ALT (and maybe the 'title') that provide the benefit.

Now, this is especially for Quadrille with a big hug ;)

[w3.org...]

<h1 id="logo"><img alt="The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)" height="48" width="315" src="/Icons/w3c_main" /></h1>

<h2 id="slogan">Leading the Web to Its Full Potential...</h2>


Marcia




msg:3424335
 2:41 am on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>not everything that happens to be good SEO is done primarily for SEO reasons

Let me put it this way, then. SEO that's paid for by clients to have done for their sites is done - and paid for - primarily for SEO reasons.

Now, going back to the original question in this topic, about image links vs. text links, image based links do have SEO value. They pass PageRank, and if you look at the text-only Google cache, you'll see that the alt= attribute of image links looks exactly like text links do, underline and all. You can't tell one from the other unless you know which is which on the actual page.

There can be a scenario where image links are better than text links. If there are a certain number of links that need to be placed in a certain area that's limited in size, images can be the only way they can fit in.

On top of that, if the graphics have to be small, and let's say you would have linked using "Acme Automated Widgets" as the text link, with limited room in a small graphic you can put just "Widgets" or "Acme" on the graphic, depending on the location and the purpose of the link, and in the alt attribute you can have "Acme Automated Widgets" as the full anchor. That can be considerably better in some cases than even having a text link in a small place with only one of the words - your entire desired phrase is in the alt attribute.

Disclaimer:
I'm not implying that text and image links carry the same scoring weight, because I don't know. But I do believe that both carry some amount of weight and that there can be other considerations in the decision of which to use. Also, it's likely that what we see in the cache doesn't represent criteria that are used for scoring, just as there's a different algo for snippet generation. It wouldn't be that transparent, to show much in the cache.

But we can tell that they're recognized, as are the alt anchors, and can see scoring benefit from image links for target pages that receive them.

[edited by: Marcia at 2:49 am (utc) on Aug. 17, 2007]

Quadrille




msg:3424457
 7:37 am on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Now, this is especially for Quadrille with a big hug

[w3.org...]

Ah well; nice to know that W3 have achieved recognition as the World Authority on SEO Good Practice.

Must remember to get my car checked over by Kelloggs.

Marcia




msg:3424459
 7:42 am on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Must remember to get my car checked over by Kelloggs.

And before you leave to get your car checked, maybe you'd better file a spam report about W3C for using an image inside an H1.

pageoneresults




msg:3424611
 12:40 pm on Aug 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ah well; nice to know that W3 have achieved recognition as the World Authority on SEO Good Practice.

Quadrille, it is not only the W3C but quite a few major players utilize images with <h> elements. And not from a spamming perspective as you so graciously put it.

Now, I believe they refer to this as...

"Eating Crow"

and/or

"Eating Humble Pie" ;)

P.S. This is what happens to one when they are surrounded by the mindset of "everything is spam" unless we do it. It also occurs when one doesn't fully understand the elements and attributes available to them as an SEO, web designer, database developer, etc.

Quadrille




msg:3426843
 2:13 pm on Aug 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any chance of a translation into English;

I don't follow your logic at all - I'm proud to say ;)

Whatever.

It is worth saying that this whole thread has blown a tiny issue out of all proportion.

It is search engine spam, but then so is a <TITLE> that says Kelloggs SEO Kelloggs The Best SEO Kelloggs SEO.

But who cares?

I don't care at all if W3 do it, though it amuses me that the 'code experts' can be so sloppy.

I don't care if Mom & Pop sites do it - and by gum they do - because they know no better, or maybe they picked up bad advice.

I neither know nor care if Marcia does it - but if she did, I'd laugh, as she should know better.

But I DO care if an experienced member promotes a spammy method of SEO to others, even one that is very likely futile. Maybe it's just me - and that's fine too - but I don't think that's right.

That's all.

pageoneresults




msg:3426890
 2:51 pm on Aug 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

But I DO care if an experienced member promotes a spammy method of SEO to others.

We've not seen anyone other than Quadrille define this as spam. I'm still waiting for something in writing that refutes what I provided in writing from the W3. ;)

This 60 message thread spans 2 pages: 60 ( [1] 2 > >
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