A favicon is a symbol or icon that appears on a browser. It essentially helps a user immediately recognize what website he is on. Its main function is to give your website a branded look.
There are talks that a favicon has an impact on your website, but is it true? Apart from brand recognition, does it do anything else? Today, I want to explore this further and help you understand whether or not a favicon is necessary for your blog.
What is a favicon?
A favicon is no more than a symbol that shows up on the user’s browser. Take a look at the image below.
The website is Looper, a kind of magazine that offers content on media—from movies to games and politics. At the top left is an icon, the favicon.
When a user has several tabs open on a browser, that favicon gives the website a distinguished look. See the image below.
As you can see, each website has a favicon, and it is easier for a user to identify which browser has the specific site.
The word “favicon” stands for “favorite icon.” It came into existence to help companies make market their websites.
Why is a favicon important?
A favicon does many things, especially for branding. Let me enumerate to you these reasons.
1. A favicon promotes brand identity
A favicon tells people who you are. All big brands have symbols that help people recognize them. A favicon appears not only on computer browsers but also on mobile.
When users see the favicon, they immediately recognize the website. If you are consistent in your design, such as logos and colors, your favicon will make a mark in people’s minds.
2. A favicon improves user experience
A favicon makes it easier for users to identify websites. Sometimes, they do not remember the name of the company, but they do remember the symbols.
In the second screenshot I showed you, likely, a person does not remember the name Looper. However, it is likely that the user has been on this website before, liked the content, and remembers that icon.
Seeing the favicon of Looper in the browser allows the user to remember that experience. He does not have to keep on searching for the brand’s name. Instead, he only has to remember the icon.
3. A favicon creates trust
If a user likes your brand, chances are he remembers your symbol. A favicon is one of the things that allow people to mark a brand. If you have a favicon, you are essentially telling people that you have a professional operation. As such, its presence means people that you can be trusted.
As you can see, a favicon provides positive results to your branding efforts. It makes people remember your brand, trust you, and find you easier than if you do not have it at all.
But does a favicon impact your SEO?
The impact of favicon with SEO
A favicon has no direct impact on your SEO. Some people say that the icon’s URL path gets indexed, and it affects SEO. Google indeed indexes the URL of that icon, but that has a negligible effect on your ranking.
If anything, a favicon affects your SEO only if you have already done your SEO correctly. To me, it only reinforces your authority, but it does not build it.
For example, let us say that you published a blog post. This post performed well and is now at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). As such, you have done your SEO correctly, but the favicon was not the reason behind it.
What it does, however, is to reinforce your authority. If a person bookmarks your page, and then he comes back to that bookmark, your favicon is going to show up.
Here is an example:
If a person keeps seeing your favicon, the symbol reinforces your brand. As such, people will remember your content and your name.
The next time a person searches for something online, it is possible for Google to show favicons on the search results. And if the person browsing sees these favicons, they are likely to click your content more than the others.
Take a look at this image:
The Guardian has a favicon, but Social Media Today does not. Anyone who has read content from The Guardian before is likely to click this link over Social Media Today. It is going to happen if the person trusts the symbol of The Guardian.
As a result, your website gets more clicks. If you get more clicks, Google records this and is likely to rank you higher. This process helps if your content is at the bottom of the first page or on the second page.
As more and more people click your link, your click-through rate will also get higher. It signals to Google that your headline is related to that particular keyword where Google gave you an impression. As such, Google is likely to bump your rankings for that keyword.
The negative impact of favicon with SEO
Google has rules about the use of favicons.
Here are some examples of the rules:
- The favicon file must be crawlable; the homepage must also be crawlable
- The favicon must be a representation of the brand
- The favicon size must be a multiple of 48px; it has to be a square.
- The URL of the favicon must be consistent and must not change frequently
What happens if you break these rules? If you do not follow these rules, your Google will reset your favicon into an earth symbol. If a favicon is offensive, Google will also reset it to the earth symbol. For example, the use of lewd or offensive symbols in your favicon is against Google’s rules.
While this has no direct impact on SEO, it can still hurt you. What happens is that you lose one area where you can brand your business.
What eventually happens is that you lose your ability to reinforce your brand. The favicon will not appear on the search results. It will not appear next to a bookmarked page, and it will not appear on a browser.
While you may have succeeded in ranking your page at the top of the SERPs, people are not likely to click your content if it has no favicon. It will certainly go down the rankings as more and more people click on headlines with a favicon.
The favicon rules of Google are simple. Follow them to ensure that your branding efforts do to go to waste. The good news is that if you are using a CMS like WordPress, you can easily upload a favicon and let the system do the rest.
Summary: What is a Favicon and How Does It Affect Your Website?
A favicon is something that you want to use if you want to build a brand. It helps people remember, and it makes your website look professional.
It has no direct impact on SEO, but people remembering it are likely to click your content over the others. In a way, it helps drive traffic to your site, but it does not make you rank high on the results pages.
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