The title attribute is an HTML standard element available across most tags. e.g.

<li><a title="Widgets listed by household function" href="/widgets/by-function.html">by Function</a></li>

I've used this attribute on some sites for usability; many browsers pop up a "tooltip" over the link with the more detailed description of what is on the other side.

I've been wondering if doing so is having a negative effect on my rankings (hidden text?) or if it has any effect at all on onsite or offsite keyword relevance calculations.

Does anyone know of any research done on this?


4 Answers 4


According to SEOmoz's article Link Title Attribute and its SEO Benefit:

The title attribute can be used to describe almost any HTML element. A beneficial way to use the title attribute for SEO purposes would be to use it in the link element to provide descriptive text within an anchor tag (which gives you more real estate for your targeted keyword phrases). I would suggest not to duplicate your anchor text (for usability purposes). It's supposed to provide supplementary information and let the users know where the link will direct them to if they click on it. When creating your link titles, optimize for keyword phrases you’re targeting on the linked to page (just as you would with anchor text). Search engines only use them in consideration to the page being linked to, not the page the link is on.

So yes, they will be used in consideration for the content of the page you're linking to. If you're trying to optimize for keywords on your current page, do not use those keywords in your title attributes. It should be the keywords that you're optimizing for on the page the link leads to.

The title attribute isn't specifically for creating tooltips, however most browsers generate tooltips for elements that have a title set. You can use titles on many different elements, so keep the tooltips in mind when using them. It can get very annoying when used on things like <table>, <th>, <tr>, and <td> all at once.

When used for images, the title attribute is less important to SEO than the alt attribute, but more important than the longdesc attribute.

  • 3
    I just wanted to amplify your answer with regards to alt vs. title for images. Nice google blog post on this issue: googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/12/…
    – artlung
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 6:29
  • 1
    Titles are often used for Javascript lightboxes, too. Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 13:18
  • +1 very interesting point when you say: " If you're trying to optimize for keywords on your current page, do not use those keywords in your title attributes. It should be the keywords that you're optimizing for on the page the link leads to." Commented Aug 15, 2010 at 0:21
  • 1
    +1 for 'not to duplicate your anchor text' as this can create usability issues at vertical menus (tooltip will block next menu item)
    – lulalala
    Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 3:43
  • Nice answer Bryson, but I would still like to know one more thing. In terms of ranking, does using these attributes impact on how search engines rank you? I mean, in extreme you could use the title attribute in every DIV, TR, TD, etc on your website. Would that be considered cheating and impact negatively on your ranking? Thanks and keep up the good work.
    – user20254
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 19:25

this is quite possibly bogus information. The article ( http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/link-tilte-attribute-and-its-seo-benefit ) says "I have yet to test my findings and would like to know if this technique will improve rankings or just improve my user's experience."

There's nothing to test. Google does not consider the title attribute.

This article says...

"Link Title Attributes: Think that you can simply add descriptive text to your "click here" link's title attribute? (For example: Click Here.) Think again. Back in the 1990s I too thought these were the bee's knees. Turns out they are completely ignored by all major search engines. If you use them to make your site more accessible, then that's great, but just know that they have nothing to do with Google."

I agree with this assessment and have seen others like it.

Matt Cutts made a similar comment about Google not paying attention to the title attribute, but it was in the context of images, which has alt tags (and anchors do not), so it's a little different scenario, kind of.

There is an argument regarding anchor titles indicating relevancy for the page it is pointing to. However, the blanket statement of "Google doesn't consider anchor titles" renders that argument moot. I can't find any definitive information that says otherwise.


This is an old question that got bumped because of an edit, and a lot has changed.

The title tag is used ("displayed") when hovering over the element in this case a link. It can be used for tool tip info et la. It has not been a part of best practice for SEO for a while, however, tool tip information can be useful.

ARIA guidelines for usability with screen readers, would be to use the "aria-description" ...

<li><a aria-description="Widgets listed by household function" href="/widgets/by-function.html">by Function</a></li>

... for when the reading the text, which is presented to those who can visually see the page, is inadequate for those who can not. The text "by function" would normally be read and outside of content.

A better alternative would be to have the ul tag have the aria-description= "widgets list by" ... then each list item can just present the text giving context.

Input fields use title as fallback.

For input fields ARIA does not appear to be using placeholder="info" rather. In this case one can use the title attribute as a "fallback," but the "aria-labelledby='input-description'" is preferred. The ARIA-compliant reader will read the "id='input-description'" as the description for the input.

<p>Please fill in your <span id="code-label">one-time code</span> to log in.</p>
  <input name="code"
         aria-label="This is ignored"
         title="Get your code from the app.">

will read as "Please fill in your one-time code to log in. Input Field One-time code."


https://www.w3.org/WAI/ARIA/apg/ --ARIA Authoring Practices Guide (APG)


it's a positive effect, that title will be associated with that link as a kind of set of keywords.

  • 1
    That's kinda how I felt intuitively, but do you know of any external validation of this?
    – JasonBirch
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 3:46
  • I could've sworn i've read something along these lines in Sitepoint's mammoth "Search Engine Marketing Kit" but its been 6+ months since i read it.
    – Ruxton
    Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 7:52

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