Image replacement & SEO


I use this method as an image replacement.
It works good for single images, sprite technique, users with disabled images or JS don’t suffer.
However, I once read (somewhere, don’t remember now) that text content that is hidden, covered with image might be not good from SEO perspective. Is it true or was it true? Any experiences on this field?
I know that some companies tried to cheat like that and hide tons of keywords under banners. As far as I remember Google used to banned such websites. However, image replacement used for buttons or labels/titles should be treated as a technique for cheating by SE.

I work for a big project now and would like to make sure that I don’t get banned or something for such stupid thing.

The problem, as I understand it, is with techniques which try to hide text from human visitors whilst presenting it to the search engines. This technique doesn’t do that, as such. Also, Google is probably smart enough to recognise this type of technique, which is popularly applied to headings, and is certainly smart enough to distinguish a few words hidden by an image from vast screeds of keyword-stuffed garbage hidden from view but served up to search engines. I think you can stop worrying. :slight_smile:

In that case, stay far from any "hiding"or “cloaking” techniques or any other blackhat tricks. Google have declared war on any and all forms of “gaming” of serp rankings and trying to outsmart them is taking a big risk. A very big risk. And rightfully so.

I noticed that Amazon uses the same technique for sprite buttons so I guess I can as well.
Thanks for your advices.

The web crawlers won’t be able to crawl image and the link on it but they will be able to read what have been written at the “alt” tag of that image. So, it will beneficial to use this attribute to link the image to a webpage.


Technobear alludes to it but I think you’re referring to a really old SEO practice where designers would place a huge pile of keywords into white space on their site, colouring it the same as the background colour. In that way human visitors didn’t really notice it but search engines would find tons of keywords, we’re talking 15 odd years ago when search engines were pretty basic. Very quickly Google and others started busting down websites using this technique. I don’t think it applies to what you’re talking about at all.

As Search Engines will not index Images so we suppose to give some alt text with images related keywords… So that SE will consider image related to that alt text…

Coming to hidden text…
As you said it will be worst practice to manipulate Search Engines…

I use this exact method when there’s no room for a “real” H1 on a page and I haven’t had any issues yet. The big site that I use this method on ranks at #3 right now for their main keyword of high competition and has consistently been top 5 for a few years. It is something that I try to avoid if I can though since the H1 also has an <a href> in it… I’ve always actually been more concerned that the search engines wouldn’t see it as a legitimate H1 since it’s more accurately a link wrapped in H1 tags. In my mind an H1 should be something that the end user (and for the engines a crawler) can use as a headline for the main subject of a page. A link indicates a path to elsewhere on the site, so even if it’s linking back to the root homepage it’s still just a weird loop.

One thing I’d definitely recommend is using this only on the home page, if possible. It’s usually a case where you can’t stick an H1 solely on the homepage, but you can on sub-pages. In those instances I change the logo to a <span> class on inner pages and then have a 100% legitimate H1 tag.