WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Can SEO and Accessibility coexist?


From: Michael Moore
Date: Jan 21, 2005 10:57AM

The problem is that SEO specialists are attempting to manipulate the
search engines rather than allowing them to do their jobs. As to the
use of alts to manipulate search engines - the search engine designers
will soon discover this ploy and will ignore keywords in alts just as
they do in the meta-data. As SEO's continue to discover new ways to
manipulate the search engines we all suffer. Our searches return less
useful results and we are encouraged to compromise our principles and
make pages less accessible and usable but more "attractive" to spiders.

The search engine is trying to identify the document that contains
information that is meaningful in terms of the search string. If your
image is meaningful in terms of the search string then the alt will
naturally reflect that. For example, if I am searching for flying
widgets and there is a picture on your page of a flying widget with an
alt that says "flying widget" along with perhaps an h1 heading that says
"Bonzo Company releases its latest flying widget" followed by an article
about bonzo company's flying widget then the page works for everyone.

If however I am searching for a page on accessible web design and the
alt of the flying widget says "accessible design widget flying web
......" and we have equally misleading strings in the page title, key
words, etc, well you get my point.

I firmly believe that is is unethical and ultimately unwise to attempt
to manipulate the search engines. Design your pages well, design for
accessibility, and design to allow the search engines to do their job
well not just drive traffic to your site. Its not the number of visits
to your site thats important, its the number of visits by people who
were really looking for what is there that is important.

design wrote:
> We've discussed alt attributes and what they're for and how to make them
> accessible. And I try to build my sites that way. Enter the SEO
> specialist... "Keywords must be used in alt elements and the first three
> alts should have the most important keyword at least three times."
> OK... Great.
> So we give people garbledegook to listen to in order to get the search
> engine spiders to see more value in our site so that it will send more
> people over to use our site? Right.
> Is there no way to balance those creepy crawly spiders with real human use?
> Stephanie Sullivan
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