Graphic Text, Fonts, Search Engine Indexing

“Bear in mind that graphic text is published as an image. This means that you can’t enlarge or reduce its size in the browser, it won’t be indexed by search engines, and may cause problems for visitors who use accessibility aids. It’s best to use graphic text only for elements that must be rendered in a certain font, or for creating logos, etc.”

Using Freeway Guide 5, p.35

I have decided on a simple yet attractive website page layout, and I’m busy writing copy and preparing images in PS for the site. I’m arriving at the point where I need to decide if I’m going to have most of the text (including headers, buttons, body copy) be in the form of graphic text––which will allow me to choose the most eye-pleasing and/or thematically-appropriate fonts––or to simply use regular text for these, meaning the fonts appearing will be the usual Verdana, Arial, TNR, etc., which would be far from my first choices, but would facilitate search engine indexing.

Some of the sites I have found most visually appealing have relied almost exclusively on graphic text, but I’m thinking that it may not be wise to dispense entirely with considerations of search engine page ranking in favour of being guided by aesthetic ideals. Is there a way to fool the search engines? For example, to use graphic text, but also to have regular text on the page in the same colour as the background (so that it gets indexed, but does not appear on the page to the viewer), or would the search engines most likely be wise to this, and ignore such text? Or is there another way around this, where one can use graphic text, but nevertheless ensure that the words one uses are indexed?

If anyone has any helpful thoughts/suggestions on this matter, I would be grateful.

TIA!

Fern


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also to have regular text on the page in the same colour as the background (so that it gets indexed, but does not appear on the page to the viewer), or would the search engines most likely be wise to this, and ignore such text?

Worse than that - this sort of stuff can get you blacklisted by Google.

If you want to use graphic text then use an Image Replacement technique - there is an action that will help with this - have a look at this thread http://freewaytalk.net/thread/view/51284#m_52307

David


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Sometime around 21/10/09 (at 20:06 -0400) Fern said:

Is there a way to fool the search engines?

It is best never to think in those terms. What you suggest (text the
same colour as the background) is a trick that was first used more
than a decade ago in the early days of search engines. It is easy to
do and just as easy for a search engine to spot. Your site could be
blacklisted and drop out of search engines entirely.

Unlike fine art, graphic design is about creative visual problem
solving. Part of this involves working with whatever limitations
there might be in whatever medium you’re using. In web design, one
limitation is how text works. I strongly suggest that you leave
graphic text alone for anything other than short headlines and
titles. Wanting to make something look aesthetically pleasing is all
very well and entirely understandable, but a truly good design
solution won’t ignore other considerations.

k


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Thanks, David, for providing that link! Interesting info at the other link provided on that page
(http://css-tricks.com/nine-techniques-for-css-image-replacement/),
though I suppose it would not be possible to apply those when building a site using FW 5 unless someone has written––or writes––an action for them.

thatk, thanks for the suggestion, and I of course agree that a good design solution will not ignore practical considerations such as SEO. Looking, however, at the variety of techniques available for tackling the issue I have raised in this thread (see link in previous paragraph), I have to wonder just how solid and inflexible are the seeming limitations imposed by “how text works.”

What puzzles me now is why Google might permit the use of the other techniques for image replacement offered on that page, when their goal might be construed as being identical to that of placing black text on a black background (though I suppose there is a difference between hiding text when one is revealing the same words in the form of graphic text and hiding text the content of which is kept entirely hidden for undoubtedly nefarious purposes.

Fern


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