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Sick of Boring Web Fonts? Try FLIR For SEO.

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When auditing a site, one of the first things I check is the use of images in place of actual text.  Why?  Well, because when I was a website designer/developer, I was very picky about the simplest aesthetics.  It drove me crazy how ugly arial and verdana could look sometimes.  Blocky, jagged, and “blech”.  I started life as a graphic designer, and just always paid attention to typography.  So, if the text I wanted to style wasn’t imperative to users and search engines (which it usually was), I would just Photoshop an image together with the words in the .gif, .png, or .jpg.  Otherwise, I would sacrifice typography aesthetics for SEO 99% of the time.

But then sIFR came along (and was given some love from Google.).  To work, sIFR requires JavaScript and Flash.  The beauty of sIFR is that it allows designers to render text into .swf files and use fonts that web browsers and computers otherwise don’t have loaded.  In the source code, the actual text was visible for search engine spiders.  This made search engines happy, and designers ecstatic.

Now there’s the FLIR (FaceLift Image Replacement) alternative, which just like sIFR, is Google friendly.  FLIR works like sIFR with JavaScript, but removes the Flash component.  True, most browsers have Flash installed (if not manually installed by users), but eliminating the chances someone doesn’t seems like a good thing to me!  FLIR does however require PHP to be installed on your web host, which is pretty much commonplace on any good web host today.

So how does it look?  Pretty good (once I determine exactly what font I love).  Take a look at the title of this post.  You can’t highlight it because it’s a .png file (ie, a graphic).  If you search my source code for the title, you’ll still find it in all its glory.  Although the header tags are not being used in my particular implementation, I do have this set up to repeat the same text in the alt attributes (I might augment this overlay on the header tags in the future, but I wanted to experiment with the alts for the time being.)

Tags: sifr google friendly, google blog sifr seo, alternative fonts seo, flir facelift seo

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