Hurting Web Accessibility: SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool
May 2, 2008
I guess I’ll add a web development post to this mostly art-related blog.
Today, I ran across an excellent list of 100 killer web accessibility resources. Most of these resources are quite good for reference and learning material.
However, I take offense to the SEO Alt Tag (sic) Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool link. I will not link to it here, but I will provide the URL for those interested:
As an accessibility-aware web professional, I have some strong objections to this plugin:
Alt attributes should absolutely not be used solely for SEO purposes. They should be used to convey the purpose of the image or the function of the link surrounding the image. Please see Appropriate Use of Alternative Text for an excellent explanation of the proper usage of alt text.
Alt attribute usage seems quite simple at first (with the rule that every image must have an alt attribute), but text within the alt attribute and indeed, even the need for text within the attribute requires careful thought.
The SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool abuses alt text for the wrong intentions of possibly placing your site higher in search engine rankings by using inappropriate alt text.
Accessibility Attribute Abuse
Even though screen-reader users don‘t need to use a font-size switcher, they do rely heavily on proper alt text for images. Consider this HTML snippet from the plugin creator’s page which uses the plugin:
There are 2 major problems with the above code (and some minor problems I won’t get into):
- The alt value of “Decrease font size for Post – SEO Alt Tag Optimizer & Font Resizer Tool (WordPress plugin) – Uncategorised Topics – Indiana Loans Ltd” does not provide any information that is useful for a screen-reader user, which is what the alt attribute was created for. Instead, there is excessive marketing language and the useless information about reducing font size (remember, screen-reader software has no concept of font sizing).
- There is a misuse of the longdesc attribute to point to a help page for the font-resizer plugin. The longdesc is meant to provide an equivalent to a very complicated image like a chart or graph. It is not meant to provide help text for an application or plugin.
Also, being nit-picky as usual, there are some problems within the URL of the plugin’s creator:
- Who would trust a plugin from a url that contains ‘indiana-loans’? That’s pure keyword-stuffing, and not anything that would give any indication of a developer’s website. It appears to be a loan website.
- Usage of the term ‘alt-tag’ is seriously frowned upon by accessibility experts. It’s an alt attribute!
- ‘optimzer’ – misspellings (when not intentional) probably do not help with search engine optimization.
Okay, I’m done. I ran across this link this afternoon and it just kinda pissed me off. I hate seeing Web accessibility techniques being abused for SEO purposes.