Image Alt Tags

Most people visit a webpage and look at the pictures. But two kinds of visitors don’t – people who can’t see, and programs from search engines like google. Instead they view something called an “alt” tag, which is the alternative to the image itself.

An alt tag, then, is just a short description of the image itself. It’s useful for both of those visitors, and it isn’t something that is added automatically when you place an image on a website.

So if you want better search engine ranking (good idea), or to make your website accessible to people who can’t see (much better idea), then use your website editing software to add an alt tag to each picture. The nitty gritty will look like this:

HTML image tag without an alt tag:

<img src=”image.gif” height=”40″ />

And here’s one with an alt tag:

<img src=”image.gif” alt=”Great Wall of China” height=”40″ />

But hopefully you’re not still handcoding HTML to design your website.

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Google Webmaster Account

If you don’t have a google account, get one. They’re free. Just sign up at google.com. Then go to:

http://www.google.com/webmasters/

You don’t need a new google account in order to use the webmaster tools. Your current one will do.

Once you’ve logged in, verify your website, which involves adding some code to your index page. After you’re verified, you can click on the links in your control panel. A couple of the highlights:

1.    1.Google will show you the links to your site from other websites. Since this is one of the most important ways that google decides a ranking, take close notice. If you can increase links to your site, your google ranking is likely to increase.
2.    2.Under Diagnostics >> HTML Suggestions, you can find some tips on making your site work better. Page titles, meta descriptions, etc. Tweak those and your Search Engine ranking might improve, and at the same time your site usability could improve a little as well.
3.    3.Under Labs >> Site Performance you can see how quickly your site loads, according to google. Slow loads can mean some customers give up before they ever see your site in the first place.

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Email Links on your Website

It’s tempting to create simple email links on your website. That way visitors can just click on the link and it automatically creates a blank email on their computer. But beware! Site visitors may like those little links, but spammers absolutely LOVE them.There are a lot of ways spammers build up their email lists, but one of the most common is by simply harvesting off of websites. They use automated programs that roam the web and scrape out email addresses. If you have an email address listed on your website, odds are it’s an active one.

So what can you do? Well, there area few options:

1.    1.Use contact forms instead of email links. That way there’s no email address exposed on the website for spammers to harvest. It also gives you a chance to shape the information you get from your site visitors.
2.    2.Use a script to hide the email address. These scripts can be tricky to implement, but they will make the email address available to a site visitor, but pretty effectively obscure the email from automated scraping programs.

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brevity is the soul of ranking

You’re passionate about what you do on your website, and that passion sometimes results in a lot of description. After all, the more you write, the more people will know about you, right? Not so quick…Search engines look through the content of your site and try to determine what they heck your site is talking about. But while the search engines are getting smarter all the time, they don’t actually read and understand the content. So they use a number of shortcuts to determine how to tie up search queries with appropriate sites.

One way is to look at the density of certain keywords on a page. Take these two sentences as examples:

1.    1.The cat slept.
2.    2.The mottled grey cat lay along the windowsill and slept in the warm afternoon sun.

Now two might be more descriptive, but the word “cat” stands out less, because it’s surrounded by a lot of other words. So if you wanted a search engine to rank your site for the keyword “cat”, you might do better with the first sentence.

So before you write content for a page think about the keywords you’d like to lead to your site, use them several times in the description, title, and alt tags, and make sure they represent a good percentage of the words on the page. Just be careful to not simply list those keywords over and over, or your website might simply get banned.

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Reset Button

Let’s say you built a website, and spent a lot of time fashioning a form that site visitors could fill out to contact you, or buy something. And then you added one button they could press and accidentally delete all the information they laboriously entered. That would be, well, stupid, right?

So you’ve built that great form. Carefully thought out each field, placed everything just so. Please, please, please, just get rid of that reset button. In the dim recesses of internet history some nutcase decided to make it standard to add that evil button to a form, and somehow everyone bought in to it. They add no value to the form. Why would someone decide to reset a whole form in one click? Just get rid of them.

Rant concluded.

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