An overview of tasks and strategies you can employ on your website to help search engines understand your website and content.
Below is an image of the anatomy of a fictional 'perfectly' optimised page. Refer to this image when reading the following sections.
These are the elements of any given page which will assist a search engine in understanding the content of the page.
See the image on the following page for a hypothetical example of perfect page optimisation of these factors.
Search engine results include the page title, meta description and URL; as they appear in the image above.
The page title is an important signal used by google to determine keyword matching and ranking (most important after using keywords in the main content of the page). It is also useful in search results for visitors to understand what they are clicking through to.
The page description is not used by google for ranking purposes but it is displayed in search results as a descriptive summary of the page. This means it is essentially ad copy whose role is to summarise the page content and to entice the searcher to click through. Meta descriptions should be unique for each page and should accurately describe the content of the page.
“Alt text is text that can be replaced for the image, to convey the same content and still make sense in the context of the adjacent content.”
Wikipedia has a useful entry on the alt attribute.
So the true purpose of alt text is to assist visually impaired users understand the image within the context of the page. A side benefit of this is it enables search engines to better understand the site.
Meta descriptions are not a factor used by Google for ranking purposes. It is ad copy really and supports the page title to inform and entice searchers to click through.