Images and ALT tag solutions

Hello there… hope can you help me on this… probably is an old issue but still not clear to me.

I got this message from a toll I use for optimize a page doing SEO

Your keyword frequency in ALT image attributes is too high! Your keyword shouldn’t appear more than 3 times in ALTs on your page while it appears 8 times. Remove redundant occurrences of your keyword for ALTs with your favorite HTML editor. Make sure to avoide immediate keyword repetitions in ALT image attributes as this may be considered spam.

The message is quite clear… but not sure if is true not how to solve my trouble.

My situation is the following one:

(1) For me is quite important the use of ALT because in those pages I have few or no text at all as the content is the images themselves….

(2) Normally I have a page with 20 (or more) thumbnails and so 20 (or more) alt tags all linked to 20 (or more) bigger images…

(3) Suppose that all the images of my album are related to ‘Rome’ … in all the alt tag there will be/should be something like ''photo of… in ‘Rome’ " ???

(4) Final results… 20 alt tag and 20 times Rome as keyword.


Many people suggest correctly to insert in the alt tag the description of the image… and in the description should be useful to insert the keyword you want to achieve position for… what and where is the limit? Can arm my website?

Actually the error I got from the toll make sense… but what is the best alternative?

In case of a page with an album of 20 (or more) images or more on it what is the best way?

Just use the main keyword in the first 3 alt tag of images? then skip for the rest of them? What else?

At the present time I noted no problems at all with yahoo but in Google the position is far far away…
Hope to see good reply and solution …

Regards and thank you in advance.

You should describe what the photo is of… Rome is a country, I’m sure you didn’t take the photo from space. Be descriptive with your alternative text… it could be something like “A statue of the Roman god of war”, the alt text essentially should describe the contents of the photo, not just be a single word overview. People who can’t see the photo won’t get anything from the experience if every image just says rome. :slight_smile:

Plus, you’re not going to rank highly for the keyword ‘rome’ just because you used it a few times in Alt descs on your page. Use the Alt desc attribute to describe what the image is of, don’t use it as an opportunity to spam your keyword phrase because that’s what it will look like.

The alternative is get as many context relevant backlinks as you can, which use the word ‘rome’ in the anchor text, and point them at that page. Establish relevancy. Off-page SEO factors will always be more important than on-page.

Turn off images and check that the page is understandable when the alt text displays in its place. If it is then you have the right info in the alt attributes. If it reads as nonsense then you need to rewrite it.

Ok here we have the definitive answer… from google webmaster tool itself… just got it

[I]The alt attribute is used to describe the contents of an image file. It’s important for several reasons:

* It provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. We use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user's query.
* Many people-for example, users with visual impairments, or people using screen readers or who have low-bandwidth connections-may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information.

Not so good:

<img src=“puppy.jpg” alt=“”/>


<img src=“puppy.jpg” alt=“puppy”/>


<img src=“puppy.jpg” alt=“Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”>

To be avoided

<img src=“puppy.jpg” alt=“puppy dog baby
dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever
labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier
puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food”/>[/I]

Not necessarily - it depends on the purpose of the image.

The alt attribute is not supposed to describe the image, it is supposed to supply equivalent information. There would be few sites that would use an image of a Dalmatian puppy playing fetch where the purpose of the image is to convey that Dalmatian puppies can play fetch. For example if the site is selling pets a better version would be

<img src=“puppy.jpg” alt=“pets provide companionship”>

If you want to provide a description of the image you do that as a separate web page linked into the image using the longdesc attribute

Try to use different alt tags for each image…

This is an interesting point that few people actually consider … I uderstand what you mean… in a normal website pictures have the purpose to grab attention… the ALT will do that purpose if no images available as you said.

But the whole concept regretfully hard apply to a photowebsite like mine… where the pictures have no purpose at all but are the main content itself.

From the WC3 HTML Specification:

“Several non-textual elements (IMG, AREA, APPLET, and INPUT) let authors specify alternate text to serve as content when the element cannot be rendered normally.” (section 13.8) “The alt attribute specifies alternate text that is rendered when the image cannot be displayed … User agents must render alternate text when they cannot support images, they cannot support a certain image type or when they are configured not to display images.” (section 13.2)

The best use of the Alt Att is to literally describe what the image shows because whether you can view images or not, the intended ‘message’ is still down to personal interpretation and I might interpret that picture of the puppy entirely differently to you. But, if your picture needs a desc to make sure people interpret it in the way you intended (but limited to the ones who are reading the Alt text) then maybe you’re being a bit too cryptic and your page doesn’t translate very well. That’s poor Usability Stephen.

If the message isn’t obvious, you should be using a different image, not using the Alt desc to explain the message to a limited group of your users and hoping the ones that can see it can just figure it out on their own.

It is what the page author is trying to convey with the image that should go in the alt text. If the image can be interpreted differently than what has been put in that alt text it means that the wrong image has been used - not that the wrong alt text has been used.

Of course a lot of the time the purpose of having the image there is to show people that specific image in which case a brief literal description IS the appropriate description.

Always usefull felgall

It’s what the image is of that should go in the Alt text. If you need to explain what the image is intended to convey by explaining it in the Alt text which only a handful of your visitors are even going to see then the wrong image has been used - better to use one with an obvious message, that’s good Usability.

The best example I have seen used to explain the correct use of the alt attribute was either an ISP or web host (I forget which) that used a picture of superman flying above a traffic jam as a part of their message about how their connection to the internet was faster than their competitors. There would be no reason for mentioning either superman or the traffic jam in the alt text of that image as neither is directly related to what the image was being used for and would be totally irrelevant.

The use of that image conveys the speed at which that service provider operates beating their opposition (at least that’s what they were claiming) and the alt text would need to reflect that thought rather than the literal content of the image.

The same image might have thousands of possible different alt texts that could be used for it depending on the purpose of the image in a particular page. You need to pick the alt text description that matches with the purpose for which the image was included. That will match the content of the image but need not be a literal description of what the image contains.

How did it convey that message? Did it actually say that in text on the image? No. It’s a metaphor and the message is implied, people viewing the page visually will interpret it correctly because it’s obvious. So, for people viewing the page using a screen reader, you’re going to actually explain the message rather than telling them what the image is of and let them interpret it the same way non-visually impaired users would? Why? Are visually impaired people stupid?

Also, since this is the SEO forum, you need to be careful what you put in your ALt desc in case you trigger some kind of keyword spam penalty and ‘super man flying’ isn’t likely to do that the same way ‘we are much faster then our competitors’ is likely to.

From the W3 tips on using the alt attribute.

The generic rule for the content of the alt attribute is: use text that fulfills the same function as the image.

I take that to mean “use the alt attribute to convey the same message as the image”. So if I had an image of my Google Analytics I wouldn’t have “Last Month’s Google Analytics” in the alt text, I would have the message that the image was conveying - i.e. “Traffic has doubled in one month”.

Good example.

This explain THE WHOLE CONCEPT congrats!! can not be more clear then that!!

:rofl: :rofl:


Why? Is the only way the visually impaired user has to undertand that message the text in your Alt Desc? It wouldn’t say anything about it anywhere else on the page? No copy leading up to the image? No headings? No explanation at all, just an image of last month GA stats out of nowhere? Strange page. Every argument I’ve heard so far for using the Alt Desc to explain to the visually impaired, as if they were idiots, the message an image is trying to convey in a way that you wouldn’t do for people who can actually see the image just sounds like bad Usability to me.

Wait! My SEO guru award image just says ‘Sitepoint awards’… now, if it said ‘Sitepoint SEO guru award image’ i.e. just describing what the image is of, would that fail to convey the message that ‘this guy supposedly knows a thing or two about SEO’? Are visually impaired people too stupid to know that’s what guru means?

The main point is that you shouldn’t be selecting the alt text based on SEO requirements but rather to try to ensure that those who can’t see the image still can understand what the page is about.

If some particular wording is important for SEO then you want it to be in the text content of the page where everyone can see it and not hidden in the alt text of an image. Getting the text everyone sees correct is far more important for SEO than the alternate text for the images.

JJMcClure, it should be noted that I agree that accessibility is important, however it’s not appropriate to set the alt attribute value to a descriptive of what the image implies. If we take for example the SEO award badge you have. Felgall is entirely correct that explaining the scene within the image is entirely inaccurate, the purpose of that attribute should explain the value the content put’s across. In the case of your badge it’s what it represents (IE: A SitePoint community award). In respects to screen readers and what this award represents you seem to have forgotten that images can have another attribute which was built with the sole intention of describing in more detail the descriptive value of that image… the title attribute. Within this attribute you can explain the value which is portrayed (such as “I have won the SEO Guru of the year award!”). As such screen reader users will understand what the image represents. :slight_smile:

For a better description than I can offer, read this very informative document: