I am currently reading a really good book on seo. The art of SEO by Eric Enge et al. As much as I like it and find it very informed, in one chapter he was talking about on page optimisation and using alt. (which we should all do anyway) But he was high lighting that this is a way for the search engines to read an image.
My question is this. I was always told that google also reads the “title” tag in an image. (the one that makes a description come up when you hover over it). Though this book doesnt mention it at all. Have i got my facts wrong?
There are two bits of code you can use to ‘add’ to an image.
One is alt="whatever", which is alternate text. This is what will be read or displayed instead of the image, whenever the image is not available or the user-agent doesn’t support images. This typically includes screen readers, people browsing with images turned off and search engines. You must specify an alt attribute on every image, but it is perfectly OK to use alt="" if it makes more sense to simply hide the presence of the image from anyone who can’t see it as an image (this might be the case for pictures that are purely decorative, or for icons where the likely alt text would just replicate actual text that you have on the page as well).
The other is title="whichever", which is supplementary text. You can put a title attribute on pretty much anything, and when you hover the mouse over it, it will display the text as a tool-tip. I don’t know whether search engines pay any attention to title attributes, they are more likely to on links and abbreviations than images IMO. You don’t need to include a title attribute at all if there’s nothing worth putting in it. Avoid putting essential information in the title attribute, because it won’t be accessible to anyone not using a mouse, and even then, there’s no indication that they should hover the mouse over the image, so many people won’t see the title text at all.
You need title=“” in those cases to specifically fix an IE bug. If you don’t include a title attribute in all your images then some versions of IE will incorrectly generate one for you using the content of the alt attribute.
Search engines can’t see the image but they can see the alt and title attributes. Just how much weight they apply to each is known only to them.