How many words will Google, Yahoo and Bing count as part of ALT Text on a page? Someone asked me this on the other day and I wondered if a little simple test might offer an answer. This sort of post is usually a decent way of picking up natural forum links wether it’s right or wrongâ€¦.
The basic premise of course, is take an ALT tag, and put a lot of nonsense keywords in it, and see if the page will return for all (or any) the keywords. I confirmed with a similar test most search engines do count keywords in ALT text long ago.
Usefulness? I was thinking squarely from an accessibility point of view, not really spamming search engines. I think spamming ALT text can get you into trouble from what I have seen – probably depends on the site, and page, in question – or the intent.
Yes, you can use other alternatives to describe complex images, but how many words will google count in the ALT tag anyway? Is there a limit?
Here is the ALT text I tested with:
- Google seemed to count the first 16 words in the ALT tag (well.. the Alt tag is an HTML Attribute) – of the image on this page – in this instance and interestingly in the snippet Google uses it does seem to completely cut of the rest of the ALT
- EDIT – that’s 16 words of 7 + 8 characters eachâ€¦. which might prove useful if you are using ALT tags to describe complex images.
- That’s potentially plenty of space to describe images properly for accessibility purposes and seo effectiveness.
If I remember I will check and add data for Yahoo and Bing.
I like doing these little seo tests just to have a poke about and see, for effective and practical best practice purposes. I have this kind of data on a lot of seo factors – I will publish here later.
NOTE: On page SEO Tests are fun but you should always test for yourself on your own site anything I warble on about. This is just one example of a page I can observe and show â€˜working a particular way’.
ALSO – This is a live running test – results might differ when Google caches the page, for instance. What I am testing here in fact – is this something can be tested?!
What do you think?