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?


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!)

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