Image alt text and image title attributes

What is the purpose and what’s the difference of the image alt attribute and the image title attribute? As browsers rapidly release new versions, the distinction and the treatment if alt and title attributes (tags) is getting harder to determine. Some people refer to the alt attribute as the alt tag and the title attribute as the title tag. As both of these are truly attributes within an image tag, we will stick with the attribute label, and also avoid confusion with the actual title tag, which is a meta tag. To go back in history, the purpose of the two was quite clear. The alt attribute is intended as “alternative text”, to be displayed when the browser does not display an image, or when a screen reader, such as for visually impaired, reads the content of the screen. The image title attribute may be used to provide additional information about the image. For the purposes of SEO, Google uses the alt attribute to help understand the image content and relevance to the page. How browsers treat the two attributes varies. Internet Explorer will display the alt tag as pop-up information while Firefox and Safari use the title attribute. In cases where both an alt attribute and a title attribute as present, IE will select the title attribute. Recommended use, treat the alt attribute as an opportunity to tell a web crawler from search engine what the image is about and use the title attribute to provide user relevant information, and/or action oriented information. For example (your site is about blue race cars), if you have a logo on your site linked to your home page, your alt attribute may be alt=”blue race cars home” and your title attribute may be title=”See Our Blue Race Cars Home Page”. This provides useful information to both without simply copying and repeating one attribute for the other.