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A New Take On Images & Duplicate Content?

     
10:05 am on Oct 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A recent study by Raven Tools and sent to my email via Moz, claims that incorrect management of images is by far and away the single biggest SEO "mistake" found in a sample of over 2 million URL's. Missing alt and title tags were listed as being the most common error.

I was under the impression that SE's attach no importance to those tags because they are so easy to abuse. I was somewhat surprised to see in this day and age that anyone is claiming these tags have SEO value. I understand the reason for the tags and feel that they should be used.... but that is nothing more than a personal opinion. It's hard to see that having, or not having, the tags has an SEO effect.

So I started to do a bit of a refresher... and immediately came upon a counter argument, also from a respected source, claiming that the use of alt and title tags on decorative images will/can/might lead to problems with duplicate content! eg... a simple bullet marker with alt and title tags used 4 times per page across a 500 page site generates 2000 "duplicates".

And there I was thinking that duplicate content actually referred to "content"... the stuff that gets put into sentences and paragraphs.

Clear as mud.... I think I'll persevere with a routine of adding alt and title tags on larger, single (or at least infrequent) images and dispense with the tags on repetitive, decorative images.

Is there a "current best practice" for alt and title tags on images, and if so, what is it?
3:08 pm on Oct 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A "current best practice" may exist somewhere, I've not researched it, but alt and title tags don't belong with site images as would be used for simple bullet markers or dividers or background images. Simple, decorative, repetitive images which are part of the design are best served via css which eliminates individual server requests for each instance and eliminates the need for src= URIs, alt tags and title tags.
3:09 pm on Oct 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Some facts:

* Values in alt attribute that are not contained inside <a> link is only read by Google image bot and ignored by Google bot (for now) (John Mueller) Some opinion may contradict this.

* Values in alt attributes contained inside a link are treated almost like <a> tags (Matt Cutts).

* There is no such thing as decorative <img> images these days as not2easy points out. Everyone puts these in CSS (HTML 4.01 Strict to HTML 5.1 spec)

* Nothing bad SEO wise about duplicate content (but often confused with syndicated content that is bad!). The Panda algorithm first targeted syndicated content on Feb 2011 (SEOMoz.org)

Some opinion:

Personally I believe images play an important part in SEO because of the User Experience (UX) factor as part of the page quality score. It is believed google algorithm these day are written by machines and *could* focus on these UX factors should the *machine choose to do so* by its own learning process.

Alt attribute should be used to describe in detail the image for blind users to increase their UX. The caption is more and more these days contain valuable supplementary information about the image for all users resulting in better UX. Image quality should be high and unique images more valuable will increase either the UX and thus quality score of the page.
6:22 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A recent study by Raven Tools and sent to my email via Moz, claims that incorrect management of images is by far and away the single biggest SEO "mistake" found in a sample of over 2 million URL's. Missing alt and title tags were listed as being the most common error.


I thought Raven Tools was long gone.
What I find a little bit interesting is that I do not recall seeing a Raven Tools bot or roger.bot lately. I might have blocked Moz as I find them somewhat like cotton candy. Sticky, sweet and annoying.

So, how did they define which 2 million URLs to sample? Sampling the top ten over a range of competitive terms would be good. Sampling random sites/pages wouldn't mean very much.
7:52 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My bullets say "beep"

There's a limit to how much "seo" one can do with all images. At some point, even g will give up. As noted, some images are of use IN DUPLICATE for some websites and there's nothing that can be done in that regard.

There is a limit, a line, a reasonableness for "duplicate".

A present I see this trend as the web's version of "political correctness" and we all know how that has worked out.

Not playing micro-aggression games re: alt tags on images. "beep" remains "beep" not "beep" and "beep1" "beep2" "beep3" etc.

Images have unique names per site and that's the way it should be.
8:15 am on Oct 23, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A "current best practice" may exist somewhere

If you consider the w3 validator as not "best practices" but the absolute minimum: images without an "alt" tag don't validate. They don't need width or height-- which you'd be foolish to omit-- but the alt has to be there. However, unlike some attributes, it can be empty (alt="").

There is no such thing as decorative <img> images these days

Sure there is. No point in putting something in CSS if there's only ever going to be one of it.

The "alt" and "title" attributes have unfortunately been blurred in a lot of people's minds, possibly because of That Browser refusing to handle them correctly. (Now past, I think, but it left a lot of bad habits.) They're entirely different things and don't even really belong in the same discussion.
6:25 pm on Oct 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sure there is. No point in putting something in CSS if there's only ever going to be one of it.

Thats not what the W3C specifications since 4.01 strict puts it. Presentation should be in CSS with a workaround for your particular (rare) case putting this inline over using the <img> tag.