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Google and the Title Attribute

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

Sunday, January 27, 2008
10 years ago1,927 views

Is there a special reason why Google doesn't care about the title attribute of an image and recommends to use the alt attribute?

w3.org/TR/html401/struct/globa ...
w3.org/TR/html401/struct/objec ...

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

I am not sure, but where is google recommending the use of the alt attribute...?

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Could it be that ALT is required for html validation reasons, whereas TITLE merely optional, therefore possibly/ probably/ surely less frequent in the docuverse (and Google, if anything, would have that square "on paper" ;-))

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

[put at-character here]David:
In many places, for example here: google.com/support/webmasters/ ... (note that the page talks about the title tag, not the title attribute).

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

when the picture is unreachable, it's the ALT attribute which is displayed, not the TITLE attribute.
"Title" is mainly useful for handicapped persons (blind, etc). It *may* be useful for googlebot (just as WCAG & ARIA) but it's not an obligation.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

> "Title" is mainly useful for handicapped persons (blind, etc).

Well, for handicapped persons "alt" is used (at least at first); "title" is the title of the image, for whatever reasons you may want to provide one. In general, "alt" is for contexts "when the image cannot be displayed" (quote the HTML specification). And yes you're right title may then also be used for e.g. handicapped users in a text-to-speech engine (along with the alt attribute) or be used for e.g. a tool tip appearing when you hover over the image, to name just some of many possible uses a browser could implement (it's basically the browser's decision or the user's decision via their browser choice/ settings).

I agree that Google often confuses the two and sometimes ignores "title" in their help files etc. where they shouldn't. On CoverBrowser.com I've decided to use both alt and title (in partly different ways) and then Google can decide to do whatever they feel like with it :)

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

<<Google often confuses the two and sometimes ignores "title" in their help files etc. where they shouldn't.>>

From my tests, Google completely ignores the title attribute (at least for images).

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

3.2 Including an image: the IMG element

<!-- To avoid problems with text-only UAs as well as
   to make image content understandable and navigable
   to users of non-visual UAs, you need to provide
   a description with ALT, and avoid server-side image maps -->
<!ELEMENT IMG – O EMPTY – Embedded image -->
<!ATTLIST IMG
   %attrs; – %coreattrs, %i18n, %events --
   src %URI; #REQUIRED – URI of image to embed --
   alt %Text; #REQUIRED – short description --
   longdesc %URI; #IMPLIED – link to long description
   (complements alt) --
   name CDATA #IMPLIED – name of image for scripting --
   height %Length; #IMPLIED – override height --
   width %Length; #IMPLIED – override width --
   usemap %URI; #IMPLIED – use client-side image map --
   ismap (ismap) #IMPLIED – use server-side image map --
   >

---
do you see "title" somewhere?
w3.org/TR/html401/struct/objec ...

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Tom, you're missing something. Your list includes %coreattrs and title is one of the core attributes that are supported for most elements, along with id, class and style.

w3.org/TR/html401/sgml/dtd.htm ...

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Oops you're right. But contrary to Phillipp, I still think that in too many cases the title attribute is as important as the ALT attribute for handicapped people*. A good example may be image-map : on that kind of images, the ALT attribute usually is "map of the USA", while title or longdesc are "map of the USA, state by state, ordered by state name".

(*) I agree that for HTML validator and googlebot, only ALT is important.

beussery [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

It seems like ALT is "more important" as W3C suggests using it more often than not.
w3.org/WAI/quicktips/

At the same time I think of "title" as a sub of "ALT" and here is why:

"If AREA is used to create the map, use the "alt" attribute:"
- w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#c ...

"If two or more links refer to different targets but share the same link text, distinguish the links by specifying a different value for the "title" attribute of each A element."
- w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#l ...

Also, not all user-agents support "longdesc".

Just my two cents for what they are worth! :)

beussery [PersonRank 10]

10 years ago #

Worth pointing out to others who might read this!

We are talking about the title attribute and NOT the TITLE element.

The TITLE element is the most important element in a quality page.
w3.org/QA/Tips/good-titles

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