Google Doesn't Like Long Titles In Image Alt Tag

Apr 26, 2011 • 8:46 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Image Alt tagsA Google Webmaster Help thread has one webmaster complaining his site isn't ranking well anymore in Google.

When Googler, JohnMu, checked out his site, he made one observation about the length of the alternative text (alt tags) used in the images source code. John said that the images are using "a full copy of the - sometimes long - title as the alt-text for all of the product images on the page." He recommended the webmaster stay away from throwing so much content in the alt tags of the images.

John said:

One small thing that I noticed while looking through your site's pages (well, the HTML code :-)) was that for many (all?) of your products you're including a full copy of the - sometimes long - title as the alt-text for all of the product images on the page. Keeping in mind that the alt-text is meant to be an alternative text that could be shown in place of the image (and accordingly, it's indexed as part of the page), it could be confusing to see the exact same text over and over again. Search engines generally aren't impressed by seeing the same text that many times, so I'd simplify that a bit by perhaps using the full text for the main product image, but not reusing it for all of the smaller detail-images. I've added a link below for more information on using images and alt-text.

Smaller changes like that are particularly noticeable when the pages themselves do not otherwise have a significant amount of relevant content on them, so a different strategy could be to just - as mentioned above - work on making sure that those pages have more great content on them in general. In the end, the goal should be to make it easier for search engines and users (when it comes to images, think about those with screen-readers) to understand your pages without getting confused by unnecessary duplication.

Keyword stuffing your alt tags is never a good idea.

I'd always recommend keeping the alt tags short and make sure they describe the picture.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

This post was written earlier and scheduled to be posted today.

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Michael Martinez

04/26/2011 03:59 pm

He's not saying "Keep the ALT text short", he's saying, "Don't replicate the same text over and over again for all those images".


04/26/2011 04:19 pm

This post title is a little misleading as it seems that it was not the actual title tag use in an image that was the problem but rather it was the repeated use of the same quite long alt text from the title in several images. If you think about it, the alt text is alternative text so if you have several images with the same alt text you are saying they are all the same which would be daft and is obviously not the case. All of a sudden combine this with the fact that it's the title tag that is used across all the product images then it is starting to smell like spam to me. I am seeing more and more of these algorithmic filters for thin content and on page spam and would bet surprised if he does not get his rankings back after the next crawl of his site if he puts his alt tags in order.

Loren Mckechnie

04/26/2011 09:25 pm

What about the concept of using the tag as it was designed? For users, which can't display images. What are the current thoughts about the traditional recommendations of starting the tag with the word "image of" or "photo of"


04/27/2011 08:49 am

Nice information.I think we should not use long title in alt tags and just describe the image with few words.

Sachin Sharma

04/27/2011 11:34 am

Image Tag is perfect place to put keywords / Key Phrases those are not possible to repeat in the content.

Nick Stamoulis

04/27/2011 02:05 pm

I agree with John about using full text for the main product image and then using shorter alt text for some of the other images on the page. I don't think you should have alt text for every image anyway. If you're page incorporates a lot of graphics, it can get very cluttered and difficult to read as the visitor is constantly dealing with alt text that covers the page.


04/27/2011 02:25 pm

It's about repeating the same long alt tag over and over again in all his image tags, that's the actual problem John points, not the length of a single alt tag as you've interpreted it wrong again. I'm tired of your false interpretations, try to focus a lil on the quality of those posts not the quantity, because this blog's quality is really going way down. Think!

Thomas Renoult

04/28/2011 07:37 am

Yeah post title is misleading and I am, like Fking, a bit perplex about the necessity of this kind of post. Why not doing a blog post about "the importance of having a unique title tag on every page of a website".

Thomas Renoult

04/28/2011 07:37 am

Seroundtable, SEL are still among best Seo resource though...But It is true that lately quality seems to lose shares against quantity and sensationalism.

Anil Gupta

04/28/2011 05:11 pm

Thats new to me. I also never thought that alt tag's text could make a big difference in Google rankings. I am also used to include the title of article as the image's alt tag. I need to remove all of them now.

Thomas Renoult

04/29/2011 01:10 pm

I think there is no problem to use your title page as alt tag for you main image ( though I like to change it a little) but the problem is " reusing it for all of the smaller detail-images". More important than tag alt is the content in your page around your image.


05/16/2011 07:12 pm

I've heard it could be helpful to sparingly use keywords in alt tags and I've also heard to stay away from that completely unless it pertains to the picture. Is there any guidelines for this practice? 

SEO Chester

06/06/2011 09:48 am

This is basicaly a case of alt spam! No different than repeating the exact same sentance in a page text too much, bound to affect ranking badly.


04/08/2014 02:32 pm

If i use a image with Jpeg Image name - how to loose weight Image Tittle - how to loose weight Alt Txt - how to loose weight . Is this normal or considered as keyword stuffing?

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