The Attributes of a Good Link. Anchors, Titles and the Alternatives.

by Alex on January 18, 2011

When it comes to Keyword Optimization you have your Anchor Text, that being the actual text used in the link itself, then you have the Title Attributes. If you are talking images, then you have the Title Attribute as well as the Alternate Text AND Description, if you so choose.

So which is it then? Or is it both? Or neither? ….I’ve got a hat. ? …

It can get confusing at the best of times, but we are not talking serious link wheels and optimization processes here, this is the easy end of the SEO stick – or at least it’s supposed to be!

We know the importance of Anchor text, and making sure that the words we use to link in and out are Keywords, and that makes sense – and it’s quite simple too. So you go and write a post and then you highlight your keyword and click the ‘link’ button in WordPress to create that link.

Hang on a minute, now I have another option; Title. What the? OK so I just put my Keyword in there again then right?

WRONG.

To Understand what the Title Attribute actually is and why it is there, we need to first look at the images, and in so doing enter into the age old Image Title vs. Alt Title debate.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.

(But the Alt Text Field only reads the first 60 or so)

Make sure you fill in the alternate text field every timeImage Title is supposed to provide information about what is in the actual photo, and in some browsers this title will appear when you hover your mouse over it, so it is always advisable to take this into account when you enter something in here. Keep in mind that it is still advisable to use your Keywords here, although not in the same way you used them in the Alternate Text Field.

Alt Text. is exactly that, and is ‘supposed’ to be designed as an ‘alternative’ to those who cannot view images in their browser, but it is also widely known to be the same text that the Search Engines crawl, because they certainly can’t see pictures (yet). With this in mind it makes a lot of sense to get your Keywords in here, but do not just stuff them in.

So Back to the Text Side of Things.

The Title Tag on your link is the same as the Title Tag on an image in that in certain Browsers (Firefox being one of them) the text you put here will appear when you hover your mouse over it. Although it is still advisable to put your keywords in here, it is not something that will get much notice from the Search Engines. The Reasons for this are unknown, but the general theory holds that alt text isn’t as “powerful” as link Anchor text because it isn’t an element that is likely to be seen by users (unless they hover over an image or link) and therefore it can be more easily abused.

In general, search engines prefer to give more weight to elements that users can see.

That makes sense.

And in the tradition of all things logical,  let’s look at how we can better use the Alt and Title Tags to our advantage.

the anchor text is most powerful seo onpage linkIf the Search Engine is lending more weight, if not all of it to the Alternate Text Attributes in images and the actual Anchor Text in onpage links then it makes sense to make sure our Keywords are there at all times. But if the Title Tag is not really being looked at by the Search Engine, but it provides additional information to the reader then I am only thinking one thing right now.

Sales Copy!

If the PPC Kings can write catchy ads that get your attention in 7 words then imagine what is possible with the Title Text and the fact that it appears for a reader before they potentially click on a link. Use that field to write something that will turn that maybe click into a definite one. (Wish it worked on Adsense now LOL!)
Want More? Follow this link for a great post from Anne Smarty at Search Engine Journal on How to Use Link TITLE Attributes Correctly,

So there you have it, clear as mud really – but here it is in a nutshell…

  • Anchor Text and Alternate Text Good for SEO
  • Title Tags good for Sales and Click Through Rates, but not so good for SEO.
  • (that was much easier actually!)

{ 42 comments }

Michael January 18, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Good advice Alex, as always. Your summary is the best part :-) . Another thing I like to do but sometimes forget is to apply a hyperlink to my images so that they go somewhere else on the site rather than just an enlarged version of the image. It might be a related post or it might be something I want to have a bit of link juice. I don’t know the theory that well but I just do it when I think of it.

Michael.

Rose @ Samui Art Gallery January 18, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Hi Alex,
Great read, thank you.
But sorry that I have to disagree on something. ;)
1. I agree with anchor text link is better than image (with alt tag) link as search engine bot will always give more weight to all visible text on on-page.

Additional
2. It is advisable to add alt tag for your first 3 images with your target keywords.
3. Be careful to not overuse the same keywords for your on-page images.

Disagree
Title tag (title page) is the most important for SEO. When search engine bot start crawling any page, it will first look for page title, and give more weight to the page which has title tag the first tag under . Title tag which have higher rate of keywords prominent and suitable keywords density will get more advantage here. It’s also advisable to keep your title tag to 69 characters.

It is description tag that is not much effect SEO but will be good for Sales and Click Through Rates. It’s advisable to keep your description tag to 157 characters.

Rose @ Samui Art Gallery January 18, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Hi Alex,
Sorry, it’s me again. Just notice that you are talking about title attribute for image, not title tag, because the title tag is the page title?!?!?
If it’s title attribute, then I am 100% agree with you that it have nothing for SEO neither click through rates.

Murlu@Create an eBook January 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

I always end up forgetting about the title tag in half of
my images (generally half of even that for the alt tags); overall,
from my experience, it’s really the size of the original photo,
copy around it and the file name that seems to work really well for
Google Images so I figure it if helps get indexed there than it
must be equally so for when it’s on a page. Just rambling.

Johanna @ GIJoh.com January 18, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Hi Alex,
I never thought that alt text images are relevant too.
Thanks for explaining to us in detail how it works.
I guess I need to learn more on things related to this topic.

Thanks for sharing!

Robert Dempsey@Itinerant Entrepreneur January 18, 2011 at 11:31 PM

Now that’s freaking hacking my friend. And you’ve just given me a bit of work to do on one of my niche sites.

Erik Emanuelli @ FreeMakeMoneyAdvice January 18, 2011 at 11:32 PM

Hi Alex,

thanks for sharing your wisdom.

In every new post here, I learn something.

P.S. I was stunned this month seeing how many visits I got from Google Images.

Andreas@Online Advertising January 19, 2011 at 2:06 AM

The best link occurs within text that is related to the target page, for example a review about a product or service which is discussed on a particular page (and if it comes from a page with high authority the better). These are the ideal links in the eyes of google.

Steve@Internet Lifestyle January 19, 2011 at 3:16 AM

A picture is worth a thousand words, but the alt tag field only takes 60. Brilliant!

It certianly seems that many people ignore the alt tag field entirely. I KNOW the importance and I still forget FAR too often. Little things like this are what pushes one site over the other. thanks for some great info.

Alex@Jocuri January 19, 2011 at 3:38 AM

Hey Alex,
First of all “Search Engines … can’t see pictures (yet).” Wrong, google can see images and even recognize letter and basic shapes, also they know the colors of every picture they index :D . Of course they can’t recognize a duck when they see it but they certainly know what a triangle or square is when they “see” it.

An other thing that google does is sometimes ignore the alt and title tags (of both image and link) but use the surrounding text as a way to determine what the image is about.

For example, I had a website where I wrote an article which contained 2 images. Both of the images contained my keyword + one random word, and had the same name except the second had a number at the end (oh by the way, google also uses the image name, like a lot), but the second image was introduced (in the html) near a portion of text that had my keyword mentioned twice. Guess which image ranked higher in Google images ! Well if you answer the second you are right! (you don’t win anything unfortunately ) . So use alt, description tags but don’t forget to introduce it near the keywords you want to rank it for.

Alex January 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Hey Alex!

Wow, I had no idea on the shape thing, knew about the colour, but wow!
As usual you have provided awesome insight into the post and added your own value brilliantly!

Thanks Alex, the real you is awesome! (LOL)

mark January 19, 2011 at 4:17 AM

I have not been using the title attribute in my img tags very much, but you have convinced me.

Why not add it in – it could help increase clickitude & it will only take an additional four seconds per post (yes, I tested it).

;)

Have a good day!

Alex January 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM

LOL only 4 seconds?!
Mate that’s efficient

Mike @ Rank Tracker January 19, 2011 at 7:14 AM

It seems not a lot of people pay attention to the image file name, I could say from the comments above my comment and in your blog post, Alex, and I’m still unsure whether this is true. Some SEO experts say to better optimize your image for search engines, you gotta do 2 things:

1. Name your image file carefully. Obviously, untittle1.jpg won’t help. happy-man-stand-beside-a-car surely do a lot better.
2. Put the alt tag. In web designing, alt tag is used to assist disabled people, as we all know. Search engines also use that to better understand your image is all about. So, when you have described your image in alt tag, what’s the point of putting in the title tag. I mean, there are more tags for SEO like longtitle, etc. But you won’t have enough time to fill them all out. :)

Patricia@lavenderuses January 19, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Hi Alex

I enjoyed the shortened version better lol And I’m pleased that Rose is sorting my SEO for me ;-)

Impressive post Alex and I do acknowledge you know what you are talking about. And so do a few commenters here by the looks of things. Me not being one of them I’ll sign off now and go do some more writing which I manage heaps better :-)

Patricia Perth Australia

ipad apps uk January 19, 2011 at 9:30 PM

I used alt tag.

Jason@Make Beats January 19, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Alex – I couldn’t agree more with you when you mentioned that we have to make sure our Keywords are there at all times because it won’t hurt to do so.

But I can see how Alternate Text Attributes in images and the actual Anchor Text in onpage links can benefit a site’s onpage SEO. Thanks for sharing some of your tips.

Alex January 20, 2011 at 1:35 AM

Hey Jason,

No worries mate, thanks for your comments brother :)

richard January 20, 2011 at 1:34 AM

Thanks Alex,
This is a simple explanation to why we need to do alt text. Actually, before reading your post, I didn’t really understand that alt text was more important keyword wise than the title. I must admit, I had been neglecting the alt text on my images. Now I understand the concept.

Brankica@Social media fan January 20, 2011 at 3:37 AM

Never thought of image title, now I am not even sure if I am using it? Gotta go check.

I just know that is you use keywords in your images you get nice amount of visitors from Google, since that is how I got my first visitors on my static website (the first ever I built). Since then I am paying a lot of attention to alt tags in images.

Thanks Alex.

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

LOL, did you go and check mid comment? You did didn’t you.

Awesome.

TheInfoPreneur January 20, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Alex,
Great article my man. One other little tip with links…always try to make sure you are thinking Google double listing for certain keywords…especially if you are driving for niche sites. Link out to another page/post on your site with those keywords, and if you can crack the top few slots of google….you can walk away with 2 slots for the “price of 1″.

Nice post.
Brandon

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

Very good point Brandon!

Thanks for sharing mate

Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing January 20, 2011 at 7:35 AM

I’ve always wondered about the title/alt tags; something else I didn’t get…is this just useful for images or any text link as well?

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:46 PM

I’d say any text link at all, espeically because every attribute ads up to something – surely? Either way, you have the sales copy side of things to consider, even with the text link

Rick Byrd @ MarketingWithRick.com January 20, 2011 at 8:19 AM

Hey Alex:

Great information today! I never thought of using the title text to actually write a mini ad. I typically just put the keyword phrase. I am going to try this in my next few post that have images.

I also like to link the image to either an affiliate product or another blog post.

Take care!

- Rick

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:48 PM

I also like to link the image to either an affiliate product or another blog post.

Great point Rick!

Completely forgot to mention that, so thanks for setting me straight ;)

Bryan@Work From Home January 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Lol Alex, your summary is much easier to understand! :P Kidding…

I’ve always put alt tags into my images and yes I do get traffic coming in from organic searches for those pictures. SO yeah, it definitely works. This is what I learn from somewhere I was reading the other day:

Priority of keywords for search engine bots:

1) Anchor text
2) Image ALT text
3) Videos/Flash

I think it sounds pretty obvious isn’t it. But i think a lot of people might think 1) ans 2) are the same but in fact it isn’t!

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:47 PM

Exactly!
(I think I like your summary the best too ;) )

LOL! Thanks for sharing your insight mate

TJ McDowell@St Louis Photographer January 21, 2011 at 2:29 AM

That’s good to know that not having a title included won’t hurt too much – especially since KeywordLuv and CommentLuv don’t use the title attribute.

JUANNA@SEO Calgary January 21, 2011 at 8:06 PM

More thanks for sharing this post of yours. It is always important to prioritize the title or the keywords itself. Another tips is about the image. It is also important not to forget to apply a HYPERLINK to it so that it’s easy for the site to be reach and not only an image at all.

Henway January 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

I would disagree on title tags not being good for SEO. If you make your title tags all “UNTITLED”, I would guarantee your rankings for certain keywords would not be as high vs. putting those keywords in the title tag.

Alex January 23, 2011 at 11:01 PM

True, But I did not say to leave the title tags blank – that would just be stupid :)

Donace@Market Samurai Promo January 25, 2011 at 12:33 AM

Very useful post; I actually had a very similar one in my drafts for the past week to compliment one I did on normal links a couple of years ago (http://thenexus.tk/how-to-get-the-best-links/).

One thing I would like to add is the use of captions. It provides a useful context to the picture and if you have a link from the pic back to your post (i.e. like picture of an apple on a post on apples) it can be seen a ‘semantically’ beneficial. Though this is just my opinion and conjuncture. I haven’t done a test on this factor.

Alex January 28, 2011 at 1:14 AM

I will listen to your opnion on that… and totally agree!
Seems logical at least

Navid January 27, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Hey Alex,
I thought I had a pretty good handle on Anchor text and ALT text, but your advice will help me hone my craft just that much more. Thanks for the good post, keep them coming.

Alex January 28, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Thanks Navid!

Appreciate the comment mate :)

Ankur @Windows 8 February 4, 2011 at 4:36 PM

I was always thinking that Title tags is always good for SEO and have never cared about the alternate text anyways good post :)

rent textbooks online February 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM

using you images to there full potential is important, especially because they can get indexed and show up on image search engines.

Fancy Dress Outfits February 10, 2011 at 4:30 PM

If you are talking images, then you have the Title Attribute as well as the Alternate Text AND Description, if you so choose.

Fancy Dress Outfits February 10, 2011 at 4:31 PM

The Reasons for this are unknown, but the general theory holds that alt text isn’t as “powerful” as link Anchor text because it isn’t an element that is likely to be seen

Tom Buczak @ roof cleaning Cleveland February 15, 2011 at 2:47 AM

Great post. These are probably the best thing you can do
for seo.

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