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What Are ALT tags, And How Can They Help My Site?

Can you tell me what alt tags are in images or where I can get info on that?

Is this something I can just paste into the html of the images I get from merchants, in order for my site content to be recognized?

Gayle

Even though you have a web site and the images may look good, adding ALT tags can help you to rank better with the search engines, which don't yet index images on a visual basis.

(As of right now, even though people are working on searches which will actually index images by how they look, pretty much all the big search engines still index images by the text used around them, and they rely heavily on the descriptions in the ALT tags.)

So, in order to get any real SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value from the various pictures on your site, you want to add ALT tags. ALT tags are primarily descriptions for images, and were invented to help blind people access the Internet as easily as sighted people.

If you really want to maximize the value of the images, add ALT tags which are relevant to the picture.

Let's look at three examples here using the affiliate advice banner.

----------------------------------
Option 1: non-existent ALT tag

If I don't use an ALT tag, here's what the HTML for an image looks like
IMG SRC="...."

as in
( img src="http://www.usaaffiliateprograms.com/affiliate-program-advice-banner2.gif" )

And here's what shows up.

Roll over the image, and nothing happens.

----------------------------------
Option 2: non-descriptive ALT tag

Let's say I use an ALT tag that's not very descriptive

( img src="http://www.usaaffiliateprograms.com/affiliate-program-advice-banner2.gif" ALT="Site Banner")

Roll over the image to see what shows up.
Site Banner

This ALT tag has a description of the banner, but it's not very helpful to blind people or to search engines, which means it's not helpful in getting traffic to your site from an SEO perspective.

----------------------------------
Option 3: descriptive ALT tag

Let's do this one more time.

( img src="http://www.usaaffiliateprograms.com/affiliate-program-advice-banner2.gif" ALT="Affiliate Advice.us banner - Internet Affiliate Programs advice and help" )

Roll over the image one more time.
Affiliate Advice.us banner - Internet Affiliate Programs advice and help

See how this ALT description is helpful for blind people, and helps search engines to know what the picture (and the site) are about?
----------------------------------

By adding the ALT tags to images on your site, you can ensure that search engines "see" the content you have posted.

By adding keywords to your ALT tags, it also can increase the key phrases used on your site, which will let you come up higher in the Search Engine Results Pages.

Do make sure though that you avoid filling the ALT tag with junk. You aren't likely to be removed from search results for packing ALT tags with key phrases, but generally don't repeat your words and phrases to the excessive side.

What's excessive?

Here's an example .

( img src="http://www.usaaffiliateprograms.com/affiliate-program-advice-banner2.gif" ALT="Affiliate Advice affiliate program banner: Internet Affiliate Programs advice and make money through affiliate marketing" )

Affiliate Advice affiliate program banner: Internet Affiliate Programs advice and make money through affiliate marketing

See how that ALT Tag could be construed as being spammy? Don't do it. No one likes a spammer, and it only hurts you in the long run.

So, the three major functions of ALT tags are:

- To describe images
- To make sites accessible to the visually impaired
- To add keywords to site text

By adding a few words to each image through ALT tags, you not only make your site more interesting for all people reading it, you also help search engines to know what your site is about, and give you proper placement in the search engine results pages.

For more info on ALT tags, check out:
http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/altAttribute

And in answer to your question, it depends on the merchants you are partnering with, but yes... usually merchants are okay with you adding ALT tags to describe the images they give you through their affiliate programs (if they haven't added them for you already).

Your best bet? Send an email to the merchant and ask if they are okay with you adding ALT tags to the images you add.

Much success to you!

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