Knowing about CSS Image Replacement and Dynamic Text Replacement, as well as how to implement them, is undeniably valuable. As with most of SEO, having a developer’s skill set (or at least a knowledge of your options), will enable you with a can-do world view. In this case, when a client tells you that they’re committed to a web unsafe font for their headers, and that they therefore can’t use the appropriate keyword rich header tags, you’ll answer “yes you can”.
But there is a very common problem with over-zealous implementation of such SEO tactics without full consideration of their impact. Even SEOs who I have high regard for are victims of this vice. Have a look:
Notice how in each above case, the site represents its graphical logo as an unoptimized text link going back to the home page. And if you subscribe to the first link theory, (which as an astute reader, I’m sure you do), you’ll recognize that this renders any subsequently optimized link back to the homepage relatively (if not completely) limp.
ShoeMoney has it the worst of all, if you ask me. Why, praytell, is the h1 of EVERY page “Shoemoney – Skills To Pay The Bills”. This is only one step down from using the same title, or same description, which you’ll surely be alerted of if you use Google’s Webmaster Tools. And no offense to Gab, but SEOROI isn’t much better, depending on your perspective on the over-use of H1′s.
“Ok, Smartass” you’re probably thinking. “So you think I should go black hat and use cloaked optimized text?”
Well, I’d argue that if your text is descriptive of the graphic, it’s not black hat. But even if you disagree, that’s not your only option. You could also use the equally semantically valid “Alt Attribute” (it’s not a tag), which is designed to describe photos and the like to the blind. This old school method is clean as a whistle, allows you to label as you will (i.e., my: “Boston SEO Logo”), and doesn’t detract from your later carefully picked anchor text links.
So what’s the take away here? Don’t just blindly do what SEO Bloggers say (myself included). Always put yourself in the many shoes of a search engine spider, look at the source code (even if you don’t understand it all), and ask yourself of each element “what would I think of this?” You’ll probably be surprised with the result.
Side Note: In order to dispel any misconceptions right off the bat – I’m not opposed to text replacement. In fact, I think it’s brilliant for header (h1, h2, h3) replacement. Often times company branding dictates the use of a specific font – and this prevents SEO from getting in the way of that. So, if that’s what all you’re doing with it, well done and carry on!