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Q: Search Engine Optimization For Image Heavy Site ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Search Engine Optimization For Image Heavy Site
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: pwb503-ga
List Price: $4.50
Posted: 17 May 2004 16:14 PDT
Expires: 16 Jun 2004 16:14 PDT
Question ID: 347880
A client of mine has a website consisting of 10 pages or so which link
to 20 PDFs or so.  Each page is one screen-sized image, all the links
are via an imagemap, and the text is displayed in the GIF.  I know, I
know, I know...  They will not listen to me at all about how bad it is
to do a website like that.  What I want to know is, other than telling
them to stop using imagemaps and all that, what can I do to have the
pages better indexed by Google and other search engines.  I'm not
trying to fix the results or anything, I just want to know, within the
limits of NO body text, what are my options so that the pages would be
respected as if they were properly designed.  I know Google only wants
to send people to pages that are actually useful, and what not, while
I don't like that this site is so graphic heavy, the information there
is all very useful, it is just a hard headed client that is

I was thinking about 1) using a small (50 characters or less) alt tag
for the main image on each page. 2) using alt tags for all the links.
3) creating a longdesc for each main image that would reproduce the
body copy (500 charactors or less.)

The pages already utilize unique titles for each page, metadata, etc.  

Do any of these things sound like they wouldn't work?  Do any of these
things sound like they would be viewed as trying to fix/spam Google
and I shouldn't do them?  Does Google even spider longdesc tags?

I'd be glad to provide you with the URL of the site, however only via
email or a private message as I don't want them finding out how bone
headed I think they are.
Subject: Re: Search Engine Optimization For Image Heavy Site
Answered By: serenata-ga on 17 May 2004 21:10 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi Pwb503 ~

Google specifically explains about the use of graphics in its "Design
and Content Guidelines",

     "Try to use text instead of images to display important
      names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn't
      recognize text contained in images."
   - ://

They also advise,

     "Make sure that your TITLE and ALT tags are descriptive
      and accurate."
   - ://

That does not mean spamming those tags. The ALT tag is a benefit for
accessibility reasons and should describe the image. If you start
cramming it in an attempt to add content for a graphic page, it WILL
be seen as attempts to 'game' or 'spam' the system. Use the ALT tags
what they're for, accessibility reasons, and you'll stay out of
trouble - use it to try to add text for Search Engine Optimization,
and you will just end up in trouble.

Since the links are also graphics, you'd best use the ALT tags for
those to actually describe the link ... accessibility reasons again.

The description metatag may or may not be used by some directories, so
it should be about 250 characters to provide that 'blurb' that search
engines use with the URL of a website in their results pages. Again,
don't try to spam the system by loading up the description tag.

The choices really are to add body text - VISIBLE body text, and if
you don't, don't expect any search engine to pick up and rank your
site well.

An alternative would be to use the graphic as a background and put the
text over it, but without seeing the actual graphic, it might be hard
to do.

Google DOES and CAN index pdf files.

You have the correct information, and if your client won't cooperate,
there really isn't much you can do without spamming the system,
something I'm sure you don't want to do

There is a lot of discussion about graphics and how they are not
indexed in Webmaster World,

You might want to find all the pertinent information and show it to your client.

Search terms ~

The answer was formulated from bookmarked information used on a daily
basis, and no search terms were used to provide the answer.

Best of luck,

Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by pwb503-ga on 18 May 2004 09:32 PDT
Thank you for all your work thus far.  I have absolutely no interest
in gaming or spaming ths system.  I guess I just was hoping I might be
able to reproduce the text that is visible on the page (as that is
what google hopes to index) by using alt and longdesc tags.  Even if I
am not trying to spam the system, I can see how Google would think I
was trying...  In any event, I would like further clarification on the
issue of the longdesc tag.  If I were to utilize it with 500
characters or so, would 1) Google even index it? and 2) would Google
view the use of it as trying to spam the system.

You did not address this particular tag in your answer, I couldn't
find mention of it on the Google URL you provided to me, nor could I
find any answers on Google's view/opinion of the tag at


Clarification of Answer by serenata-ga on 24 May 2004 23:59 PDT
Hi again Pwb503 ~

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I was out of town and
have just returned.

The only tags at the moment that the major search engines (including
Google) really pay attention to are the title metatag and occasionally
(under odd circumstances) the description tag.

The longdesc tag would be overlooked - or at least not positively
counted, and there is the possibility it would be seen as an attempt
at spamming.

Remember, Google recommends making your web pages USER friendly. That
means showing your content in the content - in text. Anything less
will cost you at this time, and probably for the foreseeable future.

If this weren't so, Google wouldn't be pointing people to its
Guidelines, and the other search engines are still agreeing that if
you make it Google friendly, it should do well with the rest of the
search engines.

I understand your dilemma, but there is no easy "fix". Google's
responsibility is to the searcher, not the webmaster, and if your
customer won't listen to your advice, there's not much hope of ranking
well in Google. As I'm sure you've seen, there are other sites Google
WILL present in response to any of your key words or phrases.

Everyone from Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Watch) to Jill Whalen
(High Rankings) to I-Search on Marketing Wonk will tell you the same
thing. Graphics incorporating text won't rank well enough to matter.
All but the most die-hard will continue clicking til they find your
customer's site. And, even though the search results indicate there
may be a large number of pages which qualify for any particular search
term, Google usually only lists the first 6 or 7 hundred. The reason
for that should be obvious - the searcher quits searching way before
those final pages of search results can be listed.

Hope this helps,

pwb503-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
A very fine answer.   Thanks for the help.

There are no comments at this time.

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