[thelist] correct use of alt and title attributes

Christian Heilmann codepo8 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 11 17:25:14 CDT 2006

> I am looking for a summary that describes the correct use of alt and
> title in relation to standards, accessibility and search engine
> optimization.  I found a 4 page SEO thread on highrankings.com which
> suggests the alt text unless it is associated with a linked image.  That
> sort of helps if you can remain focused.  I also found a very long
> informative article discussing correct us of alt and title at:
> www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200412/the_alt_and_*title*_*attributes*/
> I'm looking for more of a summary that cuts to the chase.  Recommendations?

alt = textual replacement of the image (if it is not available, or not
loaded properly)
title = extra information about the image that may be of interest, but
is not really necessary

Good reading: http://joeclark.org/book/sashay/serialization/Chapter06.html

Images that are pure eye candy and don't bear any semantic meaning
should in the best of cases be background images applied with CSS or
at least have an empty alt attribute (alt=""). All others need a
textual replacement.

alt is mandatory, and without it your page is not accessible. title is
overrated as its constant abuse over the years as a "tooltip" makes a
lot of blind users turn off title reading in their screen readers

In terms of SEO: Don't bother with title, and don't abuse the alt
attribute for keywords as search engines do punish this. Frankly, SEO
is 99% smoke and mirrors and most likely wasted time. If you HAVE the
content and you DARE to link others, others will link to you, and that
makes you rank higher. I am sick and tired of all publications on SEO
and how to trick search engines into finding your data. If you care
about your users, you will succeed, if not you shouldn't anyways...


Chris Heilmann
Book: http://www.beginningjavascript.com
Blog: http://www.wait-till-i.com
Writing: http://icant.co.uk/

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