The relationship between Favicons and SEO is really not a known factor. The general consensus is that Favicons don’t affect your search engine ranking directly, however, it’s the indirect effect that is often ignored. To begin with, let’s look at what a Favicon is and how to create an effective Favicon.
When viewing a web page in one of the main browsers, you may notice a tiny image that appears before the site name in the tab section of each page in your browser. This is a 16 pixel by 16 pixel image referred to as the Favicon. Generally speaking, the Favicon does nothing constructive to your site. However, I spoke of the indirect effect; a Favicon can help your branding.
If you check pages like the Google or Yahoo! search pages, their Favicons take the form of a Y! (Yahoo!) or a G (for Google). Flickr uses two circles while Delicious is famous for its 4 squares and Facebook has the blue shaded background with the lowercase f. They are all immediately recognizable by most Internet users. You can take this one step further – where sites use bookmarking icons, these are generally taken from the Favicon, once again, building on that brand image.
To create a Favicon, you need to create an image that is 32 pixels by 32 pixels, or 48 by 48. The trick is to create an image that represents your business or website yet is as simple as possible. This could be your brand that is reduced in size, or letters to represent your business name placed on an appropriately colored background.
Some business logos are easily translated into a smaller graphic while others are virtually impossible. You need to be creative, and the end result needs to be something you are happy to have as a smaller logo for your website. Once you have your reduced image, you need to access one of the many free websites that create icons. You upload your image, the website converts that into an icon, and you can download it again. In most cases the file you download will be titled favicon.ico.
Once you have your icon file, simply upload it to the root directory of your website. You need do nothing else since browsers automatically check the root directory for this file. If you wish to store the favicon.ico file in another directory, then you will need to point to it in the header section of your website. The code should take the form of:
It is possible to have several Favicons, with different icons appearing on different pages. The code will need to appear in the header section for each page. You don’t have to use the favicon.ico naming convention, so long as you do use the .ico extension and refer to the correct name in the header section of each page.
While Favicons won’t necessarily help with SEO, they will help with branding. If your business or website is well branded, then users are more likely visit your site, especially from search results – and we do know that the more clicks you receive in search results the better your ranking. Favicons are just one more tool in your branding toolbox, and since the creation and use of a Favicon is free, there’s every reason to use them.