Googles Text Only Cached Pages Raises Issues With Alt Text

    June 30, 2004

There have been many discussions in the SEO world over the usefulness of alt tags that accompany images. It is generally accepted that Google primarily indexes alt tags as long as the images have a link. If there is no link on the image, the alt text is ignored.

Dicuss Google’s new method of caching pages at WebProWorld.

Google Discards Your Old Memories...
Google Discards Your Old Memories…

However, a new development in the way that Google caches webpages has raised this question again. As reported by Search Engine RoundTable, Google has begun offering links to text only cache pages.

The reason for this option is given in Google’s cached page’s description: “This cached page may reference images which are no longer available. Click here for the cached text only.”

Because of this, questions have again surfaced about Google’s indexing of alt text. At the SearchEngineWatch forums, “Marcia” posed questions about how Google will be handling alt text now that it is offering text only cache pages.

She is worried that because Google is showing alt text in place of images for the text only cache, will Google penalize users for having too many repetitive keywords?

Marcia states: “Some believe that all identical anchor text is fine, while others believe that if the identical phrase goes over a certain percentage of total links it can trip a penalty or filter. I’m one of those that believes it can happen, even just within the site itself without regard to inbound links, though inbounds also could possibly make it even worse if there’s a problem.”

According to Danny Sullivan, it appears that even though Google has just begun showing text only cache pages, they still only index alt text that accompanies an image with a link. Danny conducted a test of Google’s new feature using

He discovered, “If any ALT text was being indexed, then the home page would have shown up. But this particular ALT text only appears in a graphic, not a graphical link. So, it looks like Google’s been indexing ALT text as anchor text for over a year, and the text-only cache makes this much easier to now spot.”

This leads rustybrick of SERoundtable to believe “currently, we do not have to worry about Marcia’s questions.” However, not everyone shares rusty’s optimism.

Daria_Goetsch and David Wallace, moderators at SEW believe Google’s new practice can lead to trouble. Daria feels that text only cache pages could lead to “numerous problems sitewide in Google.”

David states that if a logo is used to link back to the homepage for a site that has a large number of pages, Google may penalize these sites for keyword repetition. In conclusion, David states: “Surely Google wouldn’t penalize a site such as this because it is a quite common practice.”

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.