14 Mar 2009

Alt tags in iWeb – How and why you should be using them

10 Comments SEO for iWeb, Software, Tips and Tricks

During my review of the Rage iWeb SEO Tool  I touched on the subject of alt-tags for images within iWeb and how they can not only improve your SEO rankings but improve the accessiblity of your iWeb site. The purpose of this post is taking it all a little bit further and going into a little more depth to help you understand the whys and wherefores of alt-tags and how to add them to your iWeb site.

To begin with I will answer the question ‘What is an alt-tag?’ Put simply it is an attribute of the img tag that displays text (or reads text) rather than an image when the browser being used is uncapable of showing images.

An example of an alt tag is:

<img src="photo1.jpg" alt="me on the slopes, Dec 08" />

Strictly speaking the alt tag isn’t a tag it is an attribute (of the img tag as I mentioned) but that isn’t important.

What good are they to me?

The alt attribute has serves 2 purposes for us iWeb users.

1.  It helps to make our iWeb sites accessible to users who otherwise would not be able to use our sites; and

2.  It can help us to improve our search engine rankings.

Accessibility

Currently iWeb does not allow us to insert alt attributes into the code of our iWeb sites (although some are put there for the default theme images) so every time we add an image to our site and a user visits who is (for example) visually impaired or has the images turned off in their browser they can not see that image(s).

Obviously that is not a good state of affairs (especially if you have an image heavy site). The visitor will just hit their back button and go find a site that does have alt attributes for its images instead. We want to welcome visitors not scare them away.

Help with SEO

Keywords are vital to your search engine ranking, but once you have filled your page with keyword rich text, added a keyword rich title between the <title> tags and even added a keywords meta-tag what else can you do? You can add keywords to your images through the alt attribute.

Imagine you used an image for the header of your iWeb site. Perhaps you have turned your text into in image and/or added a logo. By adding a keyword or two as shown below you are giving the search engine spiders more things to find on your site to link you to your chosen keywords.

<img src="header.gif" alt="All About iWeb header image" />
<img src="logo.png" alt="All About iWeb logo" />

You will notice I haven’t gone overboard with the keywords, again the reason is two-fold; If a user visits my site using a screen reader I don’t want to have them sit through minutes of keywords before they get on to the important text (they will hit their back button again). The other reason is that search engine spiders are clever little beasties. If they crawl your site and discover that you have crammed in keyword after keyword they will leave you well alone and your site will drop from the search engines quicker than you can blink.

The morale of the alt attribute story is add them but don’t go mad.

If you do not wish to add an alt attribute to an image (for example a small decorative image) then just leave it blank. When screen readers find a blank alt attribute they just skip over them completely.

How do I add them?

Simple. To begin with you download Rage Software’s iWeb SEO Tool. You can then choose to open your site direct from your iDisk (if you are on MobileMe) or publish to a folder and open from your hard drive. Select the ‘Images’ tab and get adding. You will see all of your sites images listed and as you click on each one a preview will appear in the lower half of the SEO tool so you don’t have to know which one is which.

iweb_seo_tool_edit_alt_tags

And there you have it. Alt attributes added. Remember though that SEO is a slow process and you should not expect immediate results. Don’t add too many keywords to each image, it will count against you.

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AllAboutiWeb (AAi) is your one stop shop for everything iWeb. We provide tips, tricks and more to get the most out of your iWeb website. Follow us in twitter at @allaboutiweb
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10 Responses to “Alt tags in iWeb – How and why you should be using them”

  1. Reply Tracy says:

    I downloaded the iWeb SEO tool, but it won’t open. When I double click on it, it quickly flashes, but that’s it. Any suggestions?

  2. Reply jacques says:

    Rage seo is very fine….but now I cannot upload my files to the FTP server…and I am not the only person with this problem( see seo rage forum)…”connection dropped”

  3. Reply Jonathan says:

    Hi

    I cannot seem to see any of my website images in the iWeb SEO Tool window to aply tags to. My images are all uploaded as albums from iphoto into the template pages supplied by iWeb. What am I doing wrong?

    Cheers

    Jonathan

  4. Reply Josef Horhay says:

    Isn’t there an easier way to do ALT text in IWEB today? It’s quite a serious oversight not to have ALT text, i agree. I love iweb, and just wanted to know if anyone knows if Iweb now support ALT text.

  5. Reply Lee says:

    Hi Tim/ everyone,

    Do you know of an answer to Jonathan’s problem above? (image files in albums in iWeb being invisible to Rage’s SEO software). I have the same problem. Is there another way of applying an alt-text to them (e.g. at source, in the local websites directory that iWeb publishes them to?)

    Thanks in advance,
    Lee

  6. Reply caps says:

    There’s no way to insert alt tags other than Rage’s SEO software. Sites like http://isnapbackcaps.com which uses lot’s of images has google ranking disadvantages when using iweb. Simply put you have to put alt tags.

  7. Reply iancu says:

    Rage iWeb SEO Tool does’t seem at all to recognize the images filled inside the iWeb albums…Is there anyone who could possibly know how to fix to this issue?
    …All About iWeb, any help?

    Thank you.

    • Reply allaboutiweb says:

      That’s not a problem with iWeb SEO Tool it’s a problem with how Apple made iWeb. You can’t add alternative text to a album in iWeb unfortunately.

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