Home Blogging Blogging Tips Why you should care with the image ALT attribute

Why you should care with the image ALT attribute

I notice significant traffic drop from the search engines (mainly Google) lately. I’m not an SEO expert but I can certainly tell if something goes wrong! I’m focusing on my next few weeks to dig this problem deeper.

One of the problems that I found has something to do with the ALT (alternate text) attribute on your images. That’s basically what people will see when they can’t see or render the image. It will also be used as keywords when people are searching for images on Google.

However, I’ve found something interesting with how Google uses the alternate text for something more.

Google Search Result

One of my posts about the MSN Onion Head Emoticons has given me quite a lot of hits for the past 6 months. Until recently, I notice that there are not so many visitors to the post anymore.

So I tried searching for it in Google by typing “onion head emoticons” as the keywords, and I was shocked to see that my blog’s post was ranked #9!

Curious, I’ve decided to analyze the first result that came out to find out what it has that my blog has not.

If you look at the result closely, there are so many occurrences of “Onion emoticons” as keywords coming up on the result page:

So I was wondering whether this guy (or girl) is trying to “cheat” Google by stuffing keywords somewhere on the page. I opened the page and peeped (heh heh) at its HTML source.  I found out that these keywords are actually part of the Image ALT attributes!

Image Alternate Text
A "legal" but smart way to add keywords on your post

I also realized that I had my search engines traffic decreased after I upgraded to WordPress 2.6. I remembered that the WordPress developers made a change to the way it handles alternate text. Previously, by entering the Title of the image, WordPress will produce the same alternate text of the image. Since WordPress 2.6, however, you have to insert the alternate text on a different input field yourself. This made all my old alternate texts obsolete!

So I double checked my images on the Onion Head Emoticon post. Found out that all images have alternate texts such as “img249.gif”, “img241.gif”, and so on, Grrr!

This proves how important the alternate text is on your images! I think for the next few days or so, I’ll slowly edit my popular posts one by one and make sure that every image has a good alternate text on them. You should do the same too if you are serious in getting some search engines traffic.

I thought that the alternate text will only be used by Google if you are searching images. Apparently, it’s also being used for searching texts? Have you found out about this before? Any comments from you regarding this will be much appreciated.

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