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Alt="..." size limit?

any penalties involved?

     
3:39 pm on Jun 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I am working on an image heavy site (more like, text deficient) due to the type of business it is to represent. I know that search engines are looking for text, and that they often look at 'alt' tags. Is there a limit to the amount of 'alt' text you can put in one tag?

Also, is there a point where the amount of text is considered spam even if it is not intended to be? I'm not talking about books of text. more like a sentence or two (three max) describing the business and content of each page.

In other words, can I put my keyword content in 'alt' tags without being penalized by search engines?

3:44 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, you can use the longdesc attribute for extended alternative descriptions.

Not sure if you've been welcomed yet but, Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]!

3:48 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the welcome! I have been reading for a while, but I am now to the point where I need to ask questions.

I havn't heard of the longdesc before. I'll have to check that out.

3:52 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Here, I'll give you a head start. Shhh, don't tell anyone. ;)

7.2 Long description of images [w3.org]

6:26 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>Shhh, don't tell anyone.

FOTFL......

BTW, I'd make sure they are descriptions of the images (with a liberal use of kwords, of course) just as they are intended..... That way they are useful, too.

Oh, and hi from me too ;

8:19 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the info. I tried the longdesc on one image so far, and no problems. One question though. Is the longdesc only seen by a search engine if I don't make it a link or d-link? When I mouseover I only see the alt text.

Is it still a legal use if the average visitor never sees the contents of the longdesc?

tbear - gotcha on the descriptions, it's amaizing how creative you can get when trying to work in a few keywords.

8:42 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Is it still a legal use if the average visitor never sees the contents of the longdesc?

Legal and required if you are designing for accessbility. This has nothing to do with search engines and everything to do with the user. If you are looking to use the longdesc as an area to try and gain more exposure with keyword sets, then it won't work.

Your best bet is to stick with the alt text on unlinked images and then use the title attribute of your <a href> and alt text when linking images.

Here's a good article at NASA that discusses alt text and proper use...

Creating text equivalents for images [section508.nasa.gov]

8:52 pm on June 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I did some experiments with longdesc a few months back, planting unique text. I never found that text on a Google or ATW search, even after the page was re-indexed.

I had the same results with title attributes in a link - no find. These tools are important for usability and accessibility -- I love the way modern browsers are finally showing title attributes -- but they're not important for Google or ATW ranking, at least at this time.

I probably should also test in Inktomi, but I can't get Slurp to take the pages involved and it's not worth it to me to pay for Ink inclusion on these pages. I'm pretty sure these attributes are not going to figure into any major search engine's algorithm because they are obviously wide open to abuse.

12:23 pm on June 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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pageone - I didn't mean to leave the impression that I am trying to find a spam technique. It's just that the new google update now shows my site with a PR rating of 1/2 of what it was with the old design, and the description it's showing is the copywrite notice at the bottom of the page. But, I'm getting many more customers with the new design because it's a better look and I'm not making them sick with text.

I found that the average visitor to my site was spending about 3 sec. on my pages with text, then leaving. Now the average visitor stays 30sec per page and visits all of my pages. And the page where I put all of my text in a FAQ format, people stay for a much longer time.

I guess it's just the nature of the beast to try to please the customers and the SE robots. Thank goodness for Overture and AdWords, that helps me work on the customers.

12:27 pm on June 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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people stay for a much longer time

That means a lot more than some PR number -- whatever that is today. If you're getting more traffic, and it's converting, then PR going down is irrelevant, I'd say.

1:34 pm on June 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Something I have been working on for awhile now -when messing with alt tags, consider 508 compliance. You can make alt tags SE friendly as well as text reader friendly.
2:09 am on June 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I went on a mission to find out as much information that I could on alternative text or alt text. I think you'll find this rather interesting...

Additionally alternative text values should not exceed 80 characters in length. If more than 70-80 characters is required one should use the long description attribute as an alternative to alt text. The amount of repetition in alternative text is also checked.

And then I was reading further into the specification and this popped up...

Alternative text should not be used to to simply hide words with the hope of increasing your ranking on search engines. If you repeat a word more then 5 times your page may not be indexed.

I'm currently working on migrating a site to both Bobby and 508 compliance. In the process, I've come across a host of tools to assist in the process of validating to these strict set of standards.

Hehehe, and you guys/gals thought validating to the W3C was difficult. Wait until you have to build a site that is 100% accessible! HTML and XHTML validation are childs play compared to this stuff. ;)