Using Alternate Tags And Anchor Text Effectively

by: Gail Notestine, CGAP

In Lesson 3, we taught you about writing user friendly content, using header tags and <em> tags to emphasize the keywords and keyword phrases you want the search engines to count as important.

Alternate tags or <alt> tags are used, with images, to let the search engines know what text will show, if the image does not work, for some reason. <alt> tags are also another opportunity to use relevant keywords to emphasize, to the search engines, what your site is about.

Sample <alt> tag:

<img src="assets/images/collars/no-pull-dog-collar.jpg" alt="No pull dog training collar" width="141" height="139" border="0" />

To break down the above code string, first you tell the HTML code where to find your image, <img src="assets/images/collars/no-pull-dog-collar.jpg"> That tells the browser where to look, for the image you want to appear in that spot.

Next, your HTML string tells the browser what text you want to appear, in that images spot, should the image not appear, <alt="no pull dog training collar">. This string of HTML also tells the search engines what the image is about, since the search engine robots can't see images, so have no idea of what the image subject is.

Finally, you are telling the browser what size you want the image to appear, <width="141" height="139 border="0" />

After you put it all together, you have the HTML string:

<img src="assets/images/collars/no-pull-dog-collar.jpg" alt="No pull dog training collar" width="141" height="139" border="0" />

You image will appear, the size you want, and the search engines will know what the subject of the image is.

Your <alt> tags should always be one of your page's top keyword phrases.

Anchor text is used, in your content, as a link to another site page. The anchor text should ALWAYS be relevant to the sentence and paragraph within which it is contained, and it should be a relevant keyword phrase to both the page it is on and the page to which it leads.

For Example:

<a href="dog-training-collars.html">Dog Training Collars</a>

This HTML string should be used to emphasize the term "Dog Training Collars", which will lead to a page that contains dog training collars (usually your dog collar shopping cart page).

You might use this phrase in the middle of an article paragraph that reads as follows:

"To ensure a reliable "recall", you will want to keep the pup on a long lead, until your dog comes on command 99% of the time. There are many Dog Training Collars, that can be used with a long lead, or leash, for this purpose.

The phrase "Dog Training Collars" would be highlighted in the color your CSS style sheet has designated for un clicked links. With the HTML code I have used as an example above, when a visitor clicked on the phrase, they would go to a page called dog-training-collars.html

This HTML string is very simple. <img src=" "> Tells the browser where the source page is located.<a>Dog Training Collars</a> Tells the browser this is the keyword phrase you are using as anchor text to link to that page. The </a> tag closes the anchor tag string.

You should not overuse anchor text, in your content, to take visitors to linked pages. It is preferable to have the links organized nicely in your menu bars categories and sub categories.


For homework - You will make a new page and link to it, from the sample "home page" that you have been building during these lessons.


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