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Sitewide links back to homepage - keywords in alt attributes

     
6:13 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

What's the lowdown on this age-old "optimization trick" of linking back to the homepage via the first image on the page (normally the company logo) with a keyword-rich alt text? Is this still considered a non-spammy way to gain better rankings? Does Google now penalize in any degree for doing this? Any experiences/comments/advice?

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11:49 pm on Sept 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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spammy. risky. bad.
12:06 am on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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> spammy. risky. bad.

What is?

Too many keywords or simply the link back home?

I think a link from a standard-location logo is very useful and much easier than looking for a "home" link. Google does it. They also include their company name in the alt-text.

3:41 am on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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They also include their company name in the alt-text.

Yes, but the Google logo's alt text just says "Google."

Alt text that reads "blue red yellow widgets gadgets whatsits thingamajigs thingamabobs" is quite a bit different from "Google" or "Wally's Widgets," and it's pretty obvious that it isn't intended to help users who rely on screen readers.

7:37 am on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but the Google logo's alt text just says "Google."

Yes, and Google is just trying to rank for the term "Google", not "search engine".

This area of SEO is very, very grey with many different opinions. When that is the case, always err on the side of caution. Think, "if a Google rep were to visit my site today would like look natural (i.e. helpful to users or accurately describing the link) or does it look forced (i.e. only for search engines and just keyword stuffing)".

9:03 am on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Forget spam and forget SEO for just a minute: studies have shown that USERS have come to expect that the site logo graphic can be clicked on to get back to the homepage. If it's user friendly, common practice, user expected and good for usability, there's no need to abandon it. Just don't spam it up - be very moderate and keep the alt text to a bare minimum, just like if Matt Cutts were looking over your shoulder.

[edited by: Marcia at 9:04 am (utc) on Sep. 4, 2007]

12:48 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your replies people.

I run a site that has "lite" spammy logo alt text (Matt Cutts still wouldn't be happy...), which is varied from section to section, and it ranks very well within its niche. I also run another site that has the basic "The Company Name" as the alt, which is in a related but more competitive field. This latter site ranks pretty well too considering its size (almost identical to the first) and low number of BL, so maybe the jury is still out at Google on whether this practice should be penalized?

I agree that linking home via the logo is common practice now and shouldn't be an issue in itself. It's really the benefit of the alt text that I'm wondering about...

12:48 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What about breadcrumbs leading back to the homepage?

Most sites that have breadcrumbs use the word "Home" to link back to homepage. What if that was changed to a useful keyword phrase?

Would that hurt or help with rankings/optimization? This a big debate that appears to have no real answer. Is it considered spam or just good old Fundamental SEO practice?

12:51 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If your logo includes a (keyword) tagline, I see no reason not to include same tagline in alt-text. Isn't the purpose of alt-text to help users who may have images turned off?
4:13 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have two contrasting experiences in this area, from about the same time in 2006. One site had the keyword alt text in place at launch (not present in the logo image), and it never showed a ranking problem. A second site launched with just "Home - company name" as alt text but switched to "Home - company name, keyword text) after six months or so. They're rankings for "keyword text" dropped within a week.

Too small a sample to draw strong conclusions from, but it's worth sharing.

8:14 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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spammy. risky. bad.

Take a look at the discussion re: 950 penalty, and the OVER-use of repeated (site-wide) key-word links.

So, the OP is talking about a link to the index or 'home' page. That's about as side-wide as you can get, since its on probably every page.

And he's wondering if it might not be okay to STUFF the alt tag with kw's...

'nuff said. Forwarned is Forarmed.

8:35 pm on Sept 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the google img on google's site uses (properly) the title attribute NOT alt.

alt is for alternative text, it is required on all images for xhtml (any DTD) and also for accessibility. alt is for speech and browsers that don't have text turned on, it should describe the image eg. alt="Google logo".

title is to provide additional information and results in a tooltip to the site visitor (it will produce a tooltip on the alt if no title attribute is present) eg. (like on google site) title="Go to Google Home".

It is a good idea to link the site's logo or header to the domain as many people expect it to be a quick way back to the front page of a site, don't fill alt or title with unnecessary keywords and text.

I have a post that describes alt and title attribute uses [ronboyd.ca] that's worth a read.