The Special Sauce – Opportunity Feed vol. 1.8 - Business Opportunity SEO: This article assumes that you know what ‘Google Penguin 1.0 and Google Penguin 2.0 (released just this May 22nd)’ are and more importantly, how the Penguin algorithm affects your website and possibly even your bottom-line at the end of each month.
Alt attributes, commonly referred to as "alt tags" allow you to add descriptive text to your images. The visitors generally won't see the alt text unless, in Firefox they mouse over the image or they have images turned off.
If you are not in the know, back up and Google "Penguin” ha! Only joking. I left a link at the bottom of this post to the definitive guide on the subject. Get informed about every element of it as it pertains to your specific site. Why? Because the survival and ‘findability’ of your site hangs in the balance, that’s why!
See, Google released their ‘Penguin’ update to the world of unknowing website owners with the cute name of Penguin; I mean who doesn’t like a Penguin right? This Penguin has teeth my friends, they did so in an attempt to level the pitch and it did more damage I think so far than good. The end results are this: Google and their infinite wisdom thought that with a more level playing field everyone from Mom & Pop’s to huge corporations would either be exposed or rewarded after launch equally. The effects were felt almost immediately, and they were not equal at all as some fell pages deep in Google after sitting in some cases in the top Google #1 spot for years without doing much other than having a matching URL to the two main keywords.
Calls to SEO companies, webmasters, and the like skyrocketed as people scrambled to find a solution to ‘what the problem was’ as the droves of naïve business owners had never heard of ‘Google Penguin Algorithm 1.0 much less a 2.0 and plans for more’. So, in the end people are left asking questions like – "What happened and how do I fix it?" Now, almost half a year later, people are STILL asking the basic questions because Google made it pretty hard to comply if you don’t take a course in SEO. What happened was a new configuration that required new data in fields that some of us didn’t even know existed. When Google chose ‘Alt-Text’ to be more relevant than other data, this caused sites to drop and continue dropping out of site. Strangely, this Alt-Text field is in many cases right below the Description Field and most just never filled it in or knew why it was there so they skipped it thinking they’d taken the safe route when it was a DIY job.
Truth be told though, if you have a larger budget or have the skills yourself to update your website to do updates then you have an advantage over many. The worst stories I hear that come into our Consulting arm of the company is “X” company built my site for FREE and now they want $2,500 to make it compatible and call it an upgrade fee. Many can’t afford this “upgrade fee” nor know how to fix it themselves. Almost everyone I talk to since the five-month "fun fest" caused by Google’s algorithm update is –“How Kevin, do I find x, y and z?" With so many factors to consider, I recommend starting with the most obvious and that is to run a report that will point out multiple issues, including missing alt text, non-optimized pages, bad back links and so much more, down to the minutia. If you do any looking around, you wouldn’t believe the self-help free tools that are now at everyone’s disposal. With a bit or reading and sweat equality along with hours of time, you CAN do this yourself in most cases. If you decide to not update yourself and are outsourcing, there will likely be huge fees involved, so my suggestion is to rebuild from the ground up and be fully optimized from minute one.
So, today’s Special Sauce installment will look closer at the ‘Google Penguin Algorithm’ and how you can be friendlier with it, potentially have a positive effect on your rankings and maybe get found more online.
Google above all now is looking for quality of the text, true writing and NOT stuffed with endless keywords written-in an attempt to get found by search engines. Now keep in mind that Google is launching more algorithms like ‘Google Penguin’ at some point soon and be mindful that the more compliant that your site is to Penguin the better off you’ll be for future updates. It is more than worth the investigation and time in order to understand this element of your overall SEO/SEM plan.
The first change that you will need to make to your website is to ensure that your content is not just filled with multiple instances of the same keywords. You need to put more emphasis on quality than anything else because that is what Google or Google Penguin update is looking for these days.
In previous posts we’ve discussed the importance of having fully optimized images before uploading to your site. Well, if you skipped that step like many of us do from time-to-time on a banner or a blog images when in a rush, etc..., this will now cost you big until fixed. But, what is “Alt Text” anyway? And, forget quality writing for the moment, "Alt-Text” was on my mind and finding was the game. How do I find the images that have issues? Further then, how do I fix them all without being 80 when I finish the job?
Okay, this is where I have some great news for you my friends. I was working recently on a website with over 23,200 images in their gallery that went back to 1994 that prompted this blog post! I thought that the only way to find the images/graphics that did and did not have “Alt-Text” even if they did have a ‘Description’ was to check them one-by-one. I did a calculation real quick and realized that life would pass me by before I got past a thousand, fixed and uploaded them again. I could feel my fingertips hurting and knew I needed a technical solution - my worry now was, did one exist?
But wait! Using the ‘Google Search Engine’ I found a tool that is so simple anyone could use it, from a source I’d never guess existed. The screen in front of me said Durham University. Who would have thunk it that Durham University may have some of the best free SEO tools around?
Here is the list if steps they give you: Durham University Alt Checker Tool:
1. Add the URL of an individual Page or Post
2. Check the results
The instructions at the Alt Checker Tool website
say that the Image Alt Tags (when present) will show up as blue. Here is a screenshot of one of my Images that I checked, and shows you how an Alt text is marked blue when present. Just go one-by-one and you’ll be done faster that you thought possible.
So the benefits became obvious very quickly that this Alt Text Checker was dropped from God’s Hands into my lap just at the right time. All I had to do we put in one URL, not each page I wanted to check one at a time. I did find a few other tools, but none as complete as this one in that respect. That alone can save hours upon hours putting in each URL and then moving to the next page. After you even that one URL, the Alt Text Checker Tool checks ALL of the images, screenshots–everything. This can save huge amount of time and put you ahead of your competitors. Moreover, the tool found images, graphics, banners, and headers on that same site with over thirty thousand images that needed to be fixed badly. Many have been there since the early 90’s!
And when you find one, you just go to the Editing version of that article, click on the image, and add your Alt Text in the normal way, and update with the best written text you can drop in–Done! Really, that’s it and the fields do have character limits so you will need to explore the best copy for you in each of the areas. Below is just one sample of the many types of graphics used by various software companies which you will encounter during this process, such as Word Press, PowerPoint and other, more complicated types of graphics. They are all pretty straightforward though and you should be able to navigate them easily.
This is for PowerPoint as one example.
Carpe DiemBurnt Ends Tip #1:
Make sure to check all affiliate uploads, guest blog uploads and any other pages where others can upload images or information to your site.
Burnt Ends Tip #2: Everyone likes to learn at their our pace and this site is the best I know of to teach you just about anything that you’d want to now about HTML, CSS and much more – FREE OF CHARGE. Yes, this is self-learning and a powerful tool at that!
Want to dig deeper into the Sauce? This is the best article that I could find that answered all of my questions and I hope any that you have too. Google's Penguin 2.0 Algorithm: The Definitive Guide
Sources: Durham University, Jason DeMers