Captions – Alt Tags and The All Seeing Eye

Google The All Seeing EYE

Google The All Seeing EYE

The all seeing eye of Google is looking at keyword stuffing in your alt tags.   Alt tags are for the purpose of describing the image in words. The Alt tag is what a reader will say for a sight impaired person who can’t see your images. The Alt tag describes it for them.

For example if you have a picture of a small dog you shouldn’t have “Madison Wisconsin Real Estate has gone to the dogs” in the Alt tag.   You might want that for the Caption text as a nice one liner, but not in the Alt tag.

Here is where the catch comes in.   If you are using the Captioning tool in WP and filling in the caption line, it puts the same text in the Alt tag.

Caption Alt Tag Solution

Real Estate Gone To The Dogs

Real Estate Gone To The Dogs

The solution: Once you have your image in your post and captioned click on the HTML tab and manually change the Alt tag to “Picture of Small Dog”.

That is a rather simple solution don’t you think?   You don’t have to answer that.

I like having alt tags on images.   I like the thinking behind implementing them in the first place.   I don’t like seeing them used to increase keyword density in a post.

Here is the code for the dog image to the right:

caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”240″ caption=”Real Estate Gone To The Dogs”]<strong><img title=”Real Estate Gone To The Dogs” src=”” alt=”Real Estate Gone To The Dogs” width=”240″ height=”197″ /></strong>/caption

alt=”Picture of Small Dog” should replace the Caption generated Alt tag.

If you have been Keyword stuffing your Alt Tags to increase your keyword density in your posts, STOP IT!

The All Seeing Eye is watching.   You don’t want to draw the attention of The All Seeing Eye, Trust Me.


  1. Interesting read. I have been learning about the use of alt tags for SEO purposes and never realized that someone might put a rediculous caption associated with the images. I woudln’t blame Google for penalizing someone for doing that.

  2. I know there is a lot of SEO for alt tags floating around out there. In the white hat world of SEO.

    THERE IS NO SEO FOR ALT TAGS. Which is one of the reasons the attention of the All Seeing Eye has been focused on them.

  3. Dave is right. There is no SEO for ALT tags at this time. I hear that in the future it will be included but never to the extent of links, writing, etc… I also say stay away from the ATL tags. It is no help and could hurt your site.

  4. Todd,

    DO NOT STAY AWAY FROM ALT TAGS. They are a plus and benefit to your site.

    I use them on all my sites and so should everyone who is inserting images into your post.

    As outlined in this post they are there for the visually impaired. Leave them out and they have to guess what if any reference is made to the image.

    Use Alt tags, but use them for there intended purpose.

  5. I don’t think I’m a keyword stuffer, but I don’t avoid them when I’m describing the pictures. I don’t typically include off topic pictures like a dog in my posts, so it’s easier. Don’t overlook the Google Images traffic you’ll miss out on if you’re including good local images and nice description AND file name.

  6. Daniel,

    I agree with you completely, The alt tag and the description are NOT the same thing. There are three tags on each image if you use alt tags.

    The Title tag “Description” is fine to have keywords in which fit with the post. Here you can put Real Estate Gone to the Dogs. The same with the Caption Tag. But the alt tag needs to describe the image.

    The issue I’m pointing out is that WP fills the alt tag with the Caption Tag. If that Caption fits the post but doesn’t describe the image then you simply go to the HTML view of the post and change the Alt tag.

    If you want to put keywords in titles and descriptions that’s fine.

    Here is one better, put them in the file name. That gets indexed also, Why have a file name DSC_1001.jpg when you can get that image indexed with “MyTownsRealEstateGoingToTheDogs.jpg

  7. I think that it is important to use your keywords in all alt tags only if they are related to your keyword. You obviously don’t want to call a picture of a dog “real estate in Arizona” however you then need to find a creative way to work in those keywords liked you explained.

  8. First of all ALT tags on images are VERY important to SEO. Just take a look at google image search and see what I mean. On top of that I recommend using the jQuery Lightbox plugin with the ALT tags to display images with a professional description via the ALT tag.

  9. Matt,

    I think the place to work in the keyword creatively would be in the file name and not the alt tag. I believe it is a rare instance when the alt tag describing the image would have a keyword as a part of that description.


    Yes ALT tags are important. but not so sure about SEO. getting images in google search results are as easy as a single checkbox in google webmaster tools.

    Good file names, and descriptive alt tags of the image.

    I too like the lightbox plugin. I’ve used it a lot less with the captions being available but I really like that plugin.

    BUT HERE IS THE POINT OF THE POST. Not SEO, Not Keywords. The POINT. If you are using Captions Don’t forget to change the alt tag.

    This might have gotten lost in the discussion somewhere along the line.

    Thanks for all who have added to this discussion and post.

  10. @Dave Smith – I’ve been studying SEO, images and alt tags since last night and this is the first place I’ve seen it said that alt tags aren’t and shouldn’t be considered in SEO.
    One of the highest traffic real estate sites I’ve seen does this, she recommends it and says it responsible for huge traffic on her site. I’m going with that.

    Rob Saxe ´s last blog post..Monet at Diamond Creek

  11. Rob,

    They used to say put white text all over you page with keywords and it will get you great ranking, and it did for awhile. Rank today, pay tomorrow. But you can get great rankings using alt tags for what they were intended. Google has put out the word and the warning. Play with hand grenades at your own risk. But don’t say you weren’t warned.

    Have a great week


  12. Here’s a link to a video from Matt Cutts about alt tags.

    Point taken and understood. I get what you’re saying and what Matt is saying here is that as long as you’re not spamming, you’re good. At least that’s what I’m getting.

    Rob Saxe ´s last blog post..Monet at Diamond Creek

  13. Rob,

    You might want to re-read the post. Putting keywods in an alt tag is spam. The purpose of the alt tag is so visually impaired have a description of the image read to them.

    Matt is telling you anything that doesn’t describe the image is spam

  14. I get the point of the article…I can’t figure out why wordpress 2.7 now assumes your caption is the alt tag and you have to edit the image after inserting, click a tab and then finally get to the alt tag, when you should be able to add it before inserting…I guess my question is if you’re writing for real estate and you use a picture of a dog that’s fine, but why are you going to waste your time using the alt text at all? What percent of my readers are visually impaired? .05% maybe. I know for a fact that over 50% of my readers are Firefox impaired (on insert any NON-IE browser), so I’m going to focus on resolving those issues with my spare time not describing fluffy bunnies that don’t relate to my keywords, right?

    Daniel Bates ´s last blog post..McClellanville Middle School Closes

  15. @Daniel Bates – Using the alt tag is considered “best practices” it is like making sure your site is W3C compliant.

    It is why we as a society have handicapped parking.

    For as why would WP make the caption the alt tag. That is the good question. It shouldn’t. It should be the caption tag only and allow us to set the the alt tag.

    I wish more of people were not IE Handicapped. FF provides a much richer browsing experience.

    Where many are missing the boat is in not using keyword in the image file name. That is where you can put them and it is perfectly acceptable and always will be.

  16. Does anyone know why google chrome does not show ALT text when you brush over images?
    Is it a setting within the browser?

  17. @Allison – First, I want to make sure we aren’t confusing terms. The text that is shown when you mouse over an image is the “Title Tag” If the author didn’t fill in the title tag no text will be displayed.

    The Alt tag is the alternative text that is read by special reader software for the visually impaired. Alt tag text is never displayed. This tag also has to be filled in or it is skipped by the software.

    Title Tag text is displayed in Google Chrome “if it exists.” a good check is to mouse over the image of the all seeing eye. There is a title tag there “google is the all seeing eye”.