Does Cufon Affect SEO

We have been using Cufon recently on our latest batch of website design projects which is a great as it allows designers and developers to use custom fonts within your website i.e. customising headings and text. This has added a whole new dimension to website design as designers no longer have to:

  1. Create designs that are limited to using standard web fonts such a Arial or Verdana;
  2. Incorporate the customised font text within each image on the website (images that need to have the customised font text within it) which can be extremely time consuming.

This was going fine until recently, when an SEO company working with one of our clients mentioned that we shouldn’t be using Cufon as the search engine bots (Googlebot in this case) don’t recognise the Cufon text as standard text. It instead reads the text as an image after Cufon has rendered which essentially removes the positive SEO from your website.

This was strange to me as when I previewed the rendered source of the website, everything looked normal i.e. h1’s were still h1’s with the inner text still being text. I also thought that the javascript renders on the clients side as well as after the page has loaded which would elude the Googlebot. Here is an article mentioning that it doesn’t affect SEO:

http://www.aerodesigns.co.uk/blog/negative-seo-effects-of-cufon/

And here is one on the other side of the fence:

http://www.nineteenfortyone.com/2010/06/cufon-vs-css3-vs-google-font-api/

In the end I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry. We have now looked at a CSS3 option using @font-face which works on most Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers but not on Firefox. The other option is using the Google API font directory which is unfortunately quite limited at the moment.

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