How To Use Link TITLE Attribute Correctly!

Sep 16, 2008 | 3,056 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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A recent post was surfaced in Search Engine Journal by Ann Smarty.

According to the post, it was stated that,

“Using link TITLE attributes has become more popular since the rise of such widely used scripts as WordPress which by default duplicates the post title link in its TITLE attribute. Still, despite being the common behavior, this method of using TITLE attribute is both not right and annoying.

The title is not meant to be a duplication of the anchor text. It’s supposed to provide additional / advisory information (expand on the meaning of the link). The anchor text is supposed to “name” the link, while the title text provides information about where the link will send the user. (especially with “click here” and “more” anchor text). Look:

<a href=”/ann-smarty/” title=”Author’s biography”>Ann Smarty</a>

OR

<a href=”/ann-smarty/” title=”More posts by Ann Smarty”>Ann Smarty</a>

Let’s first learn why we need to use TITLE attribute at all:

Link TITLE attribute for SEO: title attribute carries no weight on search engines (per my experience and based on other SEO’s opinion).

Ann Smarty has given some of the important guidelines as to how one can use Link TITLE attribute in the best possible way.

She says that

“Do not add link titles to all links: if it is obvious from the link anchor and its surrounding context where the link will lead, then a link title will reduce usability by being one more thing users have to look at.”

Her second guideline was:

Link TITLE attribute for accessibility.

“…visual browsers frequently display the title as a “tool tip” (a short message that appears when the pointing device pauses over an object). Audio user agents may speak the title information in a similar context. For example, setting the attribute on a link allows user agents (visual and non-visual) to tell users about the nature of the linked resource.”

“One should bear in mind that very often screen readers won’t read the title attribute, so if you put anything too vital in there, many users won’t hear it.

If the supplementary information provided through the title attribute is something the user should know before following the link, such as a warning, then it should be provided in the link text rather than in the title attribute.”

THE ESSENCE OF THE WHOLE CRUST IS THAT:

  • Use it for your target audience and not for search engines.
  • One should never duplicate it with link text.
  • Never put too much emphasis or weight on the title attributes.
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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail How To Use Link TITLE Attribute Correctly!
4.thumbnail How To Use Link TITLE Attribute Correctly!