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I am wondering is it better to use icon-based links rather than text-based ones for SEO?

For example have the link to your homepage display as a house icon rather than a hyperlink with the anchor text "Home".

This is assuming the page title element and alt attributes of the icons used are properly SEO'd.

As I was thinking using icons would be more language agnostic and maybe is a good signal for the search engine?

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    It doesn't matter either way. Use whatever makes for a better user experience. – John Conde Mar 10 '15 at 15:03
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    First mistake of SEO is over thinking things, 2nd mistake is putting SEO first. – Simon Hayter Mar 10 '15 at 18:57
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Generally speaking, do what is best for your site and your users. I mostly use text links, but some are image links so that they capture the users attention. Either way, search engines do understand them rather well.

However, where you have a choice and there is no solid case to use an image for a link, then I highly suggest using text links over image links. The reason is rather simple and fundamental. Anchor text is weighted higher than image alt text. I also rather suspect that image links break (at least in part) theme pyramids and headline read order which is really important. I did a search on the net and this seems to be the consensus on the forums. This consensus seems to go back a long way with MOZ too. What is strange to me is that there is less definitive statements made in blog articles and most of chatter seems to come from professionals in forum style answers to questions.

What seems to be important is the following:

  • Use text links for navigation.
  • Make sure that image links have similar alt text as you would for a text based link.
  • Make sure that image links have an image name that supports that alt text.
  • The URL/URI supports the link target. This is especially important for image links.
  • The title attribute for either a link or an image is said not to be indexed.
  • Breadcrumbs, used where they apply, can support an image link possibly supplanting the image link as the first link found on a page for a resource if placed higher in the HTML code.
  • Thank you for the excellent answer! This really answers my question well :) – flyingpython Mar 1 '16 at 6:35
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Definitely a combination of both. Remember that it is becoming more and more crucial to engage the user in Google's eyes.

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Well it depends upon your website, if your content have relevant images then go for it. Never forget to add alt text, because search engines don't see images. Remember: * Linking will good if you have related image. * use alt option. * compress your image(it will affect load speed)

In case, your content doesn't require image, in that case you can use text based linking.

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(i assume you are looking to avoid penalties?) The algorithm looks for exact match keyword links from low quality resources; if you have too many you are going down. You should be Ok using either method of linking as long as you are not trying to 'play Google'. Just remember not to place the links in a location which would make them look like an AD i.e before any other content on the page, and use rel="nofollow" if the link is on a large number of pages so that you do not look like you are just passing 'link juice'.

  • Yes I was just wondering if Google rewards icon-based links higher than text-based or maybe icon-based links tend to be clicked on more which would result in higher ranking so that I know which is the best to use. – flyingpython Mar 1 '16 at 6:33

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