Every Picture Tells a Story

malteseyardInternet and Web Development

Nov 18, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Every Picture Tells a Story


Placing too many images in web pages purely for aesthetic purposes could be a big
mistake for many webmasters. They may well look pleasing to the
human
site visitor, but
search engine robots are much more interested in quality
textual content and have little
interest in graphics.


However, many websites absolutely need to display images of products that they
want to
sell,

and site visitors will almost certainly expect to see them along with
some
descriptive
text
. If it’s absolut
ely necessary to add graphics to your website, then there are
two main

rules you should adhere to.


1.
Keep them as small as possible. Images take much longer to download than text and
not everyone has a broadband connection. It’s very unlikely that your s
ite visitors will sit
there waiting endlessly for images to appear on the screen. Chances are, after a few
seconds have passed they’ll just go somewhere else. Use image editing software, like
Ulead Photo Express, which will allow you to reduce

and crop

ima
ge sizes
.


For larger images like photographs, reduce them to around 800 x 600 pixels and display
only
the
thumbnail images on your website. Your site visitor then has the option to view
the full size image by clicking on the smaller hyperlinked thumbnail

version. This can
easily be achieved by using an html editor like MS Frontpage

or Dreamweaver
, which
has this option built in. Ensure all images are in either jpg, gif or png formats, which
always
work best for web pages. For more advice about resizing im
ages visit
webdesign@lse.ac.uk


2. Ensure that images are accessible to all users. Do this by including

alt
tags within the
html code
,
(The "
alt" is short for "alternative"
)
.

This is also a good way to make your
i
mages search engine friendly.

In Internet Explorer, you
can tell if an image has an alt
tag
by
placing

your mouse over
it. You will then see a small description or a
short piece of
text
,

which

is associated with
the

graphic.


If for some reason
the
image

can
not be displayed in the surfer’s browser, or if someone
has set up their browser to block images, then the
alt
text will be displayed instead. Also,
browsers designed for the sight
-
impaired will read out the text content of pages, and by
reading the al
t image tags, they will better describe the page to the user.


Search engine robots will read and index alt image tags. However, since this text is
hidden from human visitors, it is
has been used by some webmasters as a means of
keyword spamming. That is,

placing numerous keywords behind the image.

Consequently most

search engines
now

place much

less importance to alt image tags.


However, they are still
considered
important for search engine optimization
. P
lacing

alt
tags on your
images

can
help give you

an
edge over
your competitors
,

especially if they

don't have
any alt

tags

in their web pages.



It’s
also
advisable to keep

all

alt image tags to a maximum of 6 words and include 1
primary keyword. Alternatively it should be a description of the image

its
elf
. Above all
,

the text should make sense to anyone who may read it, and it’s a good idea to add the
word “image” to the end of the phrase. This will prevent search engine robots from
treating the text as spam.


If you have to have images on your website
then you may as well make them search
engine
and surfer
friendly
.