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RE: alt text

From: Jon Hanna <jon@spin.ie>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 12:47:52 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NDBBLCBLIMDOPKMOPHLHKECIFBAA.jon@spin.ie>

> Hi there everyone.
>
> Does anyone know, or know where I can find out about, whether alt
> text is used as data to contribute towards any search engine/ indexing
> rankings. Just curious, that's all.
>
> Many thanks to anyone who can offer any insight on this.

Yes and no.

Search engines do look at alt text in so far as they look at the content of
the page. However the content, including the alt text, is mainly used to
judge whether a page has any relevance to a given query, and other factors
(in particular inbound links with google) are considered much more useful in
judging the quality of the page, and hence its ranking within those pages
that have at least some relevance.

Indeed alt text is generally considered less "revealing" than other content,
due to the practice of deliberately using incorrect alt text in the hope of
fooling search-engines into misjudging the relevance of a page in a
beneficial (to the page's author) way. Search-engines sometimes also try to
detect if someone is doing this (looking for certain things like excessive
repetition of particular terms etc.) and assume the page is rubbish if they
suspect it has taken place (hence ranking them low).

The up-shot of all this is that having sensible values for alt-text may
slightly increase your search-engine ranking, couldn't hurt, and is
something you should be doing anyway. Deliberately "optimising" [sic] the
alt-text to try and increase it may work, but will likely backfire sooner or
later.
Received on Thursday, 24 April 2003 07:42:46 GMT

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