Screen capture of proper use of alt and title attributes

Alt Tags and Title Tags: Are You Using Them to Their Best Advantage? by @ShelleyWebbCSO

Beautiful pink peoniesby Shelley Webb | Featured Contributor

With Google’s latest update, it’s even more important to do all that you can in order to have your blog recognized in their search engines.  While this post is not about SEO or about how to gain traffic by using the latest trick, it IS about utilizing the tools that are available in order to optimize  your chances of being noticed. I am not about chasing after Google’s attention. I am about providing quality information and sharing it with an interested audience.

I have to admit that I have only learned about the correct way to use Alt tags and Title tags on images this past year and that I’m STILL editing my old blog posts bit by bit in order to correct them… because they are important and I see them misused or not even used frequently.

Alt tags or Alt Attribute, which is short for “alternative text” are the descriptions that you place in the alt tag box as you are posting your image in your blog post or in your newsletter.  An example of this can be seen below.  The alt tags should be fairly concise. *To be completely accurate, the <IMG> is actually the tag and the “ALT” and “Title” are actually “attributes” but for sake of conversation, I’ll refer to them as Alt tags and Title tags.

Screen capture of proper use of alt and title attributesThe Google bots don’t “SEE” the images so it’s important to write a description of what the image is.  So for instance, the alt tag for the main image on the right is “beautiful pink peonies”.  Some people who are reading blogs or newsletters do not “enable images” to be seen so rather than just having an empty box, there is a small description of the image that would be in the box. Alt tags ARE searchable by Google and will also s how up when people search for certain images, so that’s just another benefit.

I see a lot of people stuffing their alt tag boxes with keywords.  This is not the correct way to utilize the alt tag box and can actually cause your image and thus your blog post to be penalized by Google.

Another reason to be sure that your alt tag section is filled in is because when persons who are visually impaired are surfing the web, they usually do so by using software that reads the entire page aloud and will read the description of the image FOR them. This is another  reason why it’s important not to stuff your alt tag box with keywords.  Can you imagine how irritating that would be for a visually impaired person to hear?

What’s most important  is to remember that almost all of your images should have alt tags.  (I say almost all because the social media icons that you might have on your page probably aren’t perfectly tagged and it wouldn’t really be beneficial to tag them.)

Title tags or Title Attribute are there to compliment your Alt tag.  They are slightly longer and when a person hovers over your image, the words listed in the Title Attribute can be seen. For example, the title tag for the peony image is “Beautiful Pink Peonies that were grown and picked from Shelley’s garden”.

The title tag is not indexed by Google but it is a nice way to provide a lengthier description and text that shows up when a person hovers over the image.  If you’re going to use just ONE of these features, choose the Alt tag, but I still recommend using both.

If you want to find out how your pages are rating, here is a free Image SEO Tool which looks at the images on a particular webpage, rates them for  basic image SEO and makes suggestions about what you can do to improve them.

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Shelley Webb – Social Influence Expert

Shelley_82headshot 300300ishShelley Webb is founder of On The Webb Social Media, an agency devoted to teaching professionals how to position themselves as an expert in their field using the power of social media.

Having worked as a registered nurse for over 30 years, Shelley suddenly found herself as the soul caregiver to her father who suffered from dementia. She began writing a blog in order to support other caregivers and just by using the power of social media, rose from a simple nurse to an award winning blog owner, “social media rockstar”, sought after speaker and expert writer for Dr. Oz.

People began asking her if she had a publicity agent. Her response: “social media is my publicity agent”. Soon, requests for social media assistance came flooding in and so in January of 2012, Shelley founded On The Webb Social Media Services.

Born in Canada, raised in southern California, she currently resides in a small town in northern Idaho with 2 dogs, 2 tortoises and about 35 chickens.

On The Webb Social Media blog
The Intentional Caregiver blog
Twitter: @ShelleyWebbCSO and @ShelleyWebbRN
Facebook: OnTheWebbSocialMedia and TheIntentionalCaregiver
Google+: ShelleyWebb
Pinterest: OnTheWebbSocialMedia

 

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