I welcome any insights regarding tag size parameters, or particular
views on image tagging and when alt tags become spider spam!
Vicki, I personally use 1 rule for optimization of all HTML elements
and attributes. Use the attributes for the purpose for which they
were intended. Image "alt" is used by text readers and users with
images turned off to display text that indicates what the images
purpose was in the design. So if the image text is "blue widgets"
it is probably **wise** to use "blue widgets". This ensures that
the usability isn't degraded for those users. Conversely, if it is a
design spacer **nothing** should be in the alt.
Last time I checked the HTML spec (too long ago:) I saw no mention
of spiders and search engines for most of the attributes. Can you
optimize them? Definitely, the number of characters in the "alt"
doesn't matter much unless you overdo it. For instance logos
are a favorite of mine for this technique. "logo" in the alt is of no
use to both spiders and users. It would only be useful to a spider
**if** logo described something about the page. So I may use
something like this for a music shop, "Wholesale and retail musical
instruments and accessories located in Toronto". I would only use
the number of characters that can be displayed in the img
placeholder. That provides a pretty good guide on characters. If
it is a local "brand" or widely known company with offline ads then
I would also include the name of the company for branding.
I believe your question about keywords is actually about stuffing
and stacking. Don't do either. To avoid this just use the rule above.
Yes it is important to put keywords in, to some degree. For instance
Google uses link text in its algo so the "alt" in the image is the text
if it's a link. They can be used to optimize the page, overuse, once
again will likely be bad. IMHO, using a keyword comma delimited list
is just stupid and likely is flagged as spam and penalties added.
I have a suggestion since you are learning. Most of what I know I
learned by studying the SERPs. Be careful about using anything you
read on a website or newsletter/discussion list unless:
1.it is a newsletter like this, that is moderated (check out the mod too;)
2.is a reputable resource searchenginewatch.com and
searchengineguide.com are the two best I've seen for beginners.
Never follow any advice blindly, read it, digest it and then go to the
SERPs and **verify** it. I like to use SERPs for keywords that I know
well. Know every site in the top ten like the back of your hand. This
saves time and energy researching. Once it passes the mustard there
use queries you know nothing about. You will learn more "useful" info by
studying what worked then to follow blindly what the latest "guru"
is preaching. It isn't uncommon for "gurus" to pass around the purple
Kool-Aid to their followers. Question everything, including this!;)
Since SE are always changing the algos if you have followed blindly
then you don't fully understand the technique and won't understand
how the change to the algo affected your page. IMHO, that is why
there is so much fuss about the latest Google change. It is to PR and
that is without a doubt the most misunderstood element of the Google
algo. Some even sound like they think that is the Google algo. Don't
become one of those.;)