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As I (barely) understand it - ATL tags are used to supply info on browsers that don't support images... is that correct? How important are ALT tags? I created my site in FrontPage (sorry!) and I guess they don't use the ALT tag.... My site is an e-commerce retail site that relies heavily on images. Any suggestions?
However, I believe the ALT tag is all that is visible if a user is surfing with graphics off -and I'm told a fair number do.
All in all, though not mission-critical, I'd say ALTs should be used.
Since I doubt that many people really read those things, this has more of a subliminal influence on the searcher. But they show up, so I'd say Google must be giving them some weight in the algo.
ALT attributes are displayed when using browsers that don't support graphics (lynx, w3m, etc), when the user has graphics turned off or clicks stop before the image finishes loading, and I believe older Netscape versions displayed them while the image was loading.
On a related note, there was a lawsuit filed over the Olympic web site's reliance on graphics and failure to use alt attributes where appropriate. I believe it's still pending.
I'll reveal a little secret here but it can be figured out by a few searches.
Their image, audio/video search database is very sparsely populated under many search terms. Some very popular too.
Let me add that I am not sure if ALT tags are a sure way of getting your images listed. I think they use the file name, human-review, and a few other methods.
I guess this question should be posted in another topic but, does anyone know ALL the methods they use to populate their image database?
What does this mean in practical terms? Does it mean a browser that is "strict" HTML 4.0 won't display a graphic without the alt attribute? It's hard to believe MSIE, Netscape or Opera would ever code their browsers that way.
Over a period of time it became bastardised into a means of keyword stuffing and when that had reached its inevitable end, it has become common-place to not use them at all.
I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons people have trouble getting into Yahoo is that they may have overlooked the original purpose of ALT.... and that their site is seen as deficient for some sectors of the web community.
Just idle thoughts.. not based on any actual knowledge or first-hand experiences.
Well, the plan is for browsers to eventually stop accepting SGML-based HTML and move entirely to XML-based HTML. XML requires that your document be 100% correct or you get an error message. That nearly eliminates the need to test on various browsers, since nearly all serious browser differences occur on invalid code. It'll be a long time before the major browsers dump legacy support, but you'll need to make the switch before that in order to use the new features and specs. For example, you can't mix SVG graphics into old HTML.
In the mean time, browsers are gradually getting more demanding about what they'll parse. Gecko and Tasman won't let as much slide as previous NS/MS browsers.