Previously, I’ve cited meta descriptions and website content as two examples of why companies need to audit their websites in order to keep in Google’s better graces. Again, Google isn’t necessarily just pushing websites around in order to feel powerful and coerce budgets into PPC bidding wars. Rather, it is attempting to provide the greatest return for user time investment. It wants to give users what they’re looking for as quickly and as efficiently as possible by being both reactive and predictive. In doing so, company websites would do well to get on board by making their websites as informative and relative as possible. It’s a win-win business scenario provided companies can create quality content on a consistent basis. Those that can will compete better and make better use of marketing budgets.

SERP image Alt TextFor this post I want to focus on a third major audit element that may not incur many actual penalties if neglected (at this point in time – things change in Google world quite often), but is certainly important to SEO success and very common among websites that display lots of product imagery: image alt text/tags and title text.

To put it as simply as possible, every image that exists on a website has two descriptive tag attributes. One involves text that tells Google bots that cannot yet see like you and me what is contained in the image, commonly referred to as ALT TEXT, and the other is text that becomes visible to the human eye when the cursor hovers over the image, known as TITLE TEXT. If either or both are missing or duplicated, an image may still appear but will not benefit a website’s SEO as there will be no keywords or descriptions to help direct search engines. Also, some browsers may have a setting that disables image display, and without a title to display in its stead, visitors using this setting won’t know what’s there. Sure, most keep images enabled, but there is a percentage of mobile device users who do not. What’s more, those titles can be designed to include sales messages and calls to action. And let’s agree that images are what users see first and pay attention to most, especially when in a shopping mood.

And similar to content that has been duplicated, if a bot is confused as to where to direct users due to duplicated image text, it will prioritize websites that have taken the time to make that text unique. It becomes evident fairly quickly that shortcuts are not rewarded in web development. How long before business language merges with web language to the point where companies are judged on their attention to detail in their web marketing efforts? Surely, we’re already there in terms of how current a website’s design presents. A “dated” design often translates into “dated” products and services, which can seriously weaken marketing budgets. At SMS, we pride ourselves on putting as many of a company’s marketing dollars into the marketplace as possible. Well, in today’s digital marketing environment, doing that means keeping a company’s website as current and user-friendly as possible as almost every other budget dollar is pointed in its direction.

Outside of meta descriptions, content, and image text/tags there are a number of other design and coding elements that can work for or against your website in terms of search engine compatibility and our audit reports are constructed to highlight the most important, or those that require more immediate attention. But new elements are always being introduced, meaning that despite all professional efforts, websites designed today could be committing the sins of tomorrow. A web development team that understands that keeps company websites in the highest compatibility percentile more consistently and for longer periods of time. Because soon if not already, all marketing efforts will depend on it.

– S. Norton

For more info on obtaining an audit on your website to avoid Google penalties and improve SEO results, send an email to snorton@smsmktg.com and/or reply in the comments below.

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