Google Gives Blessing To Image Replacement Techniques

Jul 16, 2009 • 8:24 am | comments (4) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is only so much CSS can accomplish with making headlines pretty. If you want to give your headlines a pretty font that not all computers support, then you need to go with graphics. But as an SEO, you don't want to lose out on search engines reading those headlines. Yes, search engines cannot always read graphics, even if you use alt text.

This is not a new issue, it is a common issue that many sites struggle with. A work around is to use image replacement techniques with CSS. Either you use CSS to swap out the text for an image replacement alternative or you can use an sIFR replacement technique, if you want the content to be dynamic.

Either way, as long as the content matches the content in the graphic, then you should be fine, according to Googler, JohnMu. John said in a Google Webmaster Help thread:

If you are using image replacement techniques and replacing the text with an image that is equivalent (with the exact same text in approximately the same visibility) then that is generally fine. This provides a nice user experience and still lets those who cannot access the images (eg crawlers or vision-impaired users) use your website normally.

Now this does not give you the okay to stuff keywords in that section. It has to match and it should be relevant to the page. Use your best judgement when using these techniques. In fact, I hope to use the sIFR technique on the new RustyBrick site, when it launches in 4 years from now. ;-)

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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