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SEO Tip: Photos & the Alt Tag


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This one's very simple.

Believe it or not, photos can actually be used to improve your search engine rankings. How? You might ask. Especially since I've repeated the mantra that search engines cannot read images and therefore sites with images for buttons are hurting their rankings.

Well, here's how. When a search engine spider looks at your site they actually skip over the images, BUT it will look at the image alt text. When you add an image the html looks like this:

 

Obviously the URL is the image address. The ALT text is what would be read aloud to someone who was blind or shown if an image was not available in a normal browser. The ALT text is a great place to put some keywords but MAKE SURE the text is still relevant to the actual image.

If you show your logo you could put ALT="Houston home inspector logo". If you show some photos in a photo album, make sure to put the city name of where the photo is from, thereby increasing ranking for that city. Ideally you should have an ALT text for every image on your site.

If you have any questions about this or other tips, let me know!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the tips Dom.

Here's a question for you.

My editor gives me the ability to create both "meta tags" and "custom meta tags".

What's the difference between the two and what are yor suggestions for utilizing each of them?

Not sure what the difference is, that's something the editor is making up. I'm guessing Meta Tags (the phrase normally used) are site wide and custom meta tags are page specific. Basically you have title, keywords, & description. Those are the most important!

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Keep in mind that most search engines like Google completely ignore most meta tags (except robots.txt) and have for many years. The Title tag is not really a meta tag at all but is still used and very important. The Description meta tag is still used by most search engines in some minor way and is displayed by some search engines as a description in the search results but most of the time they display content from the actual page. Google doesn't use this tag much at all except to display your sites results. Keyword meta tags are almost a complete waste of time these days... make sure your keywords are in the pages content. The only search engines using the keyword tags now are Inktomi and Teoma. The ALT text on the images is used by AltaVista, Google and Teoma but not by AllTheWeb or Inktomi. I don't know much about Bing yet.

Meta tags will not help your ranking on Google at all and the best way to get a good ranking on Google is to make sure your keywords are on the actual pages content. Make sure you have unique content and don't do anything to try and trick them as you are more likely to just get a penalty. You have to wait with Google and it is not often that a newer site will just popup to the top of the listings.

The number one thing that I have found through my testing is links pointing to your website with the keywords in the link. Yes something not even on your own site probably has more influence than your own site!

For example:

1. New York Home Inspection

2. StructureSmart Home Inspection

If you used link (1.) the search engine would see a link pointing to your site that reads "New York Home Inspection" and rank your site high for that search term, while if you used link (2.) the search engine would see a link "StructureSmart Home Inspection" and you would get almost NO benefit at all from this link. There is a little more to this as a link from a high ranking site is better than a link from another inspectors link page that isn't even indexed...

If you have a past client search for your name they will most likely find you anyway... the new client is going to search for: "New York Home Inspection".

More info can be found at: http://www.searchenginewatch.com/

Michael Brown

DevWave Software Inc.

Home Inspection Software

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Darren, go to yahoo and type in link:www.yourdomain.com for a good list.

Google definitely still using the description tag. It's what they show on their listings unless there's a more exact phrase on the page itself or no description tag used on the page. The title tag is important as well and is used as your website title on the search engine listing. You are correct that it's technically not a meta tag, it's actually more important!

While the keywords meta tag is not as influential as it used to be, it's still believe that it IS looked at. Google and the other search engines just verify now that the text in your keywords tag actually shows up on the page itself. If it doesn't, it's tossed out.

Your core page content is obviously extremely important. Don't copy content from other sites unless you're rewriting it in your own words. Google doesn't want plagiarism.

Alt Tags are used by Google, Yahoo & MSN which covers around 95%+ of the market so I'd say they're important.

Anchor text as you pointed out is extremely important. I wrote an article on here a few months ago about it. All your forum posts should have links to your site using your main search phrase you expect clients to use (city home inspector). Don't just link your domain name directly.

I gave an 8 hour SEO talk last week in Vegas and am trying to set another one up at the upcoming ASHI conference. If I can get the room for free or inexpensive like I'll give the talk for free like I did at the COA conference.

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While the keywords meta tag is not as influential as it used to be, it's still believe that it IS looked at. Google and the other search engines just verify now that the text in your keywords tag actually shows up on the page itself. If it doesn't, it's tossed out.

From my research Google has never used the keywords meta tag... by the time Google started they had already figured out that the tag was a complete waste of time (stuffed with misleading garbage).

There is a great article on the history of the keywords meta tag on the link below:

http://searchengineland.com/meta-keywor ... ines-12099

Traffick.com’s Andrew Goodman wrote recently in an essay about meta tags:
“If somebody would just declare the end of the metatag era, full stop, it would make it easier on everyone.â€
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Well, we have tons of inspectors who are #1 on Google for their area, including our own site. The description tag without a doubt has an effect as for being shown on the search results (gets the client to click your site), but I agree it's probably not being used in their actual ranking algorithms. Same with keywords. But since the other search engines do still use some or both, it's still important to use them. Picking up one inspection a month from Yahoo still pays your hosting bill for the year!

Most important things to Google in my mind:

Domain Name has keyword phrase

Page content has keyword phrase

Inbound Links (especially from pages that have your phrase)

Live Content on your site (i.e. blogs, news feeds, etc)

A growing site

etc..

But all the little things add up too. Many of our inspectors are teetering on #1-3. Depending on what server Google queries they could end up in a different slot. This tells me there's little separating them and the more they can do, like using ALT tags which few people do, the better!

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There are a few of ways.

Here is your basic link:

New Jersey Home Inspections

New Jersey Home Inspections

You can also do it like this using your description:

[b]About The House Inspections[/b] About the House is a New Jersey home inspection company, licensed and professional, serving the Morris County area. Darren Miller provides clients with a comprehensive, clear-cut and unbiased view of the home.

About The House Inspections

About the House is a New Jersey home inspection company, licensed and professional, serving the Morris County area. Darren Miller provides clients with a comprehensive, clear-cut and unbiased view of the home.

Michael Brown

DevWave Software Inc.

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I agree broken links do not help your ranking... I use a program that has been around for a while to check the links (Xenu's Link Sleuth). What I like about it is you can time out on some sites and check just those sites later from your list instead of restarting the whole search again. This might be better considering the amount of links on your pages.

http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html

Michael Brown

DevWave Software Inc.

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