Tag vs Attribute Semantics

Feel free to file this under the “Who really cares” label, but when it comes to professional web designers and developers advocating best practices, those involved in making recommendations to others on website optimisation (including SEO) need to be mindful of perpetuating bad information. Common-use doesn’t make for correct-use.

One of the most frequent mis-labeling of web terminology concerns HTML “tags” and “attributes”.

Rather than repeat what’s been well explained elsewhere, I recommend you start with Roger Johansson’s article on Elements, Tags and Attributes.

The W3C maintains a more specific definition of Elements and Attributes.

The reason for this article is to clarify – once and for all – that there is no such thing as an ALT tag.

This particular misuse is so widespread that even respected developers, search marketers and digital literati have been known to use “Alt tag” when they really meant ALT attribute (not that I’m going to “out” anybody here).

So what’s the harm? None really – this is about semantics and trying remove confusion from an already confusing subject for most people (website development). The greater clarity and respect for technical terminology – the easier it is to make consistent reference to.