5 Simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques - Place alt tags...
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3. Place alt tags on all of your images. Search engine spiders cannot "read" pictures or images. The only way a spider knows what an image is about is by reading the alt tag. This is also another chance to place more of your keywords in your HTML, improving your page's keyword weight/density. Alt tags are easy to make and they can make a big difference in your sites keyword ranking. A simple alt tag looks like this: alt="put your keyword phrase here." Search engines separately calculate keyword prominence, density, and weight in alt tags as well, so optimize your tags.
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Search engines are not (as of this writing), penalizing sites using this technique, and it wouldn't really make much sense for them to do so.
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