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RE: Search engine and alt text: [techs] Latest HTML Techniques Draft

From: Lee Roberts <leeroberts@roserockdesign.com>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 09:59:57 -0600
To: "'WAI-GL'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <085d01c3b9b6$80d00a10$6401a8c0@RoseRock.com>

Ok, it's been awhile since I wrote mainly because I'm working with the
State of Oklahoma on their accessibility issues and the meetings happen
to coincide with our teleconference.  So, please accept my apologies for
not making it to the WCAG WG meetings.  I will return as soon as I can.

Now, onto this particular issue.

ALL search engines that use spiders/robots index using the ALT text.
Just because your test fails does not mean that you are correct.  No
slighting here intended, but it is obvious to those that work in the
field of search engine optimization that you may not be aware that
Google has major problems right now.  Any tests you perform on Google
currently my not work as it may have a few weeks ago nor as it may a few
weeks from now.  Google has lost 100's of thousands of pages from their
index as a result of some major issues they are having.

Now, let's simply put the issue to bed.  In the webmaster help sections
for each search engine they state that you should use ALT text to
include additional keywords.  The problem with this broad statement is
that many of the unethical and rookie SEO companies spam the search
engines through the medium of ALT and TITLE attributes.  

Of ALL the search engines I optimize for I have yet to find one that
uses the TITLE attribute, but all use the ALT attribute.

Now, let's go one step further.  Just because a _jaded_ test fails
doesn't mean that your test is a good test.  If it is not a word or
phrase that is normally searched upon, that word or phrase may not be
indexed as of yet.  So, perhaps you can answer this question.  With all
the pages in the world available to me to index, why would I waste space
with something so minor that the only place you put it is in your ALT
attribute?  If I were a search engine, I wouldn't.  If you think the
search engines are rolling through billions of pages upon every search
entered you're mistaken.  Those searches are cached searches that their
system performs every few days.

I hope this helps.

Lee Roberts

On 3 Dec 2003, at 11:35, Tom Croucher wrote:
> >>> Question:  Do search engines really  scan alt text given for
> images  ?

> Search engines and indexing is something I spent some time studying  
> and as far as I am aware search engines do not use alt text in  
> indexing in practice any longer.

Lets try a simple test


One hit (my site as it was the first one to come to mind with  
reasonable alt text). The search text doesn't appear anywhere in the  
document except in the alt text of the image.

(and no Google, I didn't - I'm English :D )

David Dorward
Received on Wednesday, 3 December 2003 11:00:02 UTC

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