It’s well accepted amongst SEOs that alt text in images doesn’t carry as much weight as plain text. However if a website’s CMS automatically uses images as headings to preserve a design, is there any ROI in SEO for the associated costs of implementing sIFR or image replacement techniques?

I ran a quick test in order to test this, and an inference taken from page 16 of Google’s SEO Starter Guide:

“the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link”

The inference here is that alt text in images does not carry as much ranking weight as plain textual content. As mentioned above, this is a generally accepted principle, but I wanted to know if this applied equally to heading tags as everything else.

I linked to 2 almost identical pages, with the heading code differing as follows:

  • Text version (8lks5c3z.htm): <h1>7i1bn504</h1>
  • Image version (04x7oszi.htm): <h1><img src=”04x7oszi.jpg” alt=”7i1bn504″ /></h1>

The page with the image-based H1 tag was linked to above text-based H1 to adjust for any bias in HTML order.

As expected, the results showed a clear bias towards the textual version. Google indexed both pages and putting the image-based version in the supplemental results. Yahoo, Ask and Lycos only indexed the textual version (and Bing did not index either version). The images below outline the results:

First result in Google is text version

First result in Google is text version

Both results appear with duplicate filter off

Both results appear with duplicate filter off

Yahoo only indexes textual version

Yahoo only indexes textual version

Ask only indexes textual version

Ask only indexes textual version

Lycos... ah well, who cares ;)

Lycos... ah well, who cares ;)

Comments

  1. Robert

    Did you think of trying the object tag instead of the image, e.g.
    7i1bn504
    This should provide both rich content and indexable text :)

  2. Robert

    Sorry my last comment had html in it.
    below should be the html escaped version.
    <h1><object data=”7i1bn504.jpg” title=”7i1bn504″>7i1bn504</object></h1>