I remember when favicons first started to appear, it was like, hey, how cool is that. But now they are so common that I hardly notice them anymore. Well, no, that's not exactly true. I do notice them, and like them, it's just that I'm not surprised to see them anymore. But I AM surprised when I don't see them.

Ok, let's back up. What is a favicon?

If you're reading this post on Search Engine Guide, rather than a feed reader, then you need to do no more than look up to the address bar. Here is an example of the favicon used on my company blog:

Favicon

See that little icon of EMP with the orange line above it? Yep, that's the favicon. It's such a little thing, but it can make a pretty big impact. Site's that don't have a favicon show a generic icon like this:

Favicon

That's in FireFox. In Internet Explorer, if you don't brand yourself with a custom favicon, Microsoft with brand themselves in your place. Here's what it looks like:

Favicon

Now I won't go so far as to suggest the favicon will increase sales, but it does provide a nice visual cue for your site, especially once it gets added into a visitor's bookmarks folder. Take a look at this snapshot of Netflix open up in my browser, along site my open bookmarks:

Favicons

Look down at the very bottom, see the icon circled in red? That little guy there is a bookmark from a site that has no favicon. So you can see that not having a favicon prevents you from standing out among the others. This can be important when you're bookmarked a list of your competitors!

Favicons are not that difficult to create. I found this great Photoshop Tutorial on How to Create a Favicon.

In a matter of minutes I created an entirely new favicon:

Favicons

Granted, this new one took me all of 5 minutes to create from the site logo, but what do you think? I could definitely clean it up a bit, for sure. But not bad for a few minutes of work.

To add your new favicon so it appears in the location bar and bookmarks, in the <head> tags of each page's code add this:

<LINK REL="SHORTCUT ICON" HREF="favicon.ico">

That's it. You're all set with your new favicon.


May 29, 2008





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(10)

A great reminder to not forget the small stuff!

While I'm a big proponent of using favicons, I would point out that by not having a favicon, that site actually stands out more to me in your list of bookmarks, each with colorful favicons (so many colorful favicons that they begin to blend together).

However, for most people an alarming number of the sites they bookmark don't have favicons. In one of my husband's bookmark folders, for example, he has 17 bookmarks, and only two sites have favicons. Now they stand out.

There have been many posts on favicons. And while I agree they require a very small effort to create, I don't think there's much value in them aside from the creator thinking they're cool. By the time someone has seen a favicon enough times to recognize it, they're no longer looking at the favicon.

And yes, I create a favicon for every site I work on :-)

I'm going to disagree with both Jordan and Marios (no suprise there!) From a marketing perspective the favicon is branding. It's also adds to the instant site identification.

Standing out can be a negative if you're standing out for being boring and bland. Site's that don't use favicons may stand out from those that do, but only because they haven't done the extra effort to brand themselves properly.

Any chance to market your brand is a good one! And it's not just in the address bar or in the favorites list that these icons stand out, it's also visible on each tab in FireFox. Even if it's a poor favicon it's still worth having.

After all, what use is handing out marketing merchandise with no branding on it?

I didn't even realize how much I used favicon identification unconsciously until I read your article!

I have a zillion tools in my favourite's Tool Folder and whenever I scan through it for a search engine simulator I end up selecting To The Web's simulator. I just realized it's because their favicon jumps out at me more than the others in my list!

Robert, I agree completely!

Carolyn, that's a perfect example of the usefulness of a favicon. Heck, even if one doesn't jump out at you, it allows me to identify visually all my bookmarks, rather than having to read each one. That's priceless for people like me who don't like to read!

Great post Stoney. I agree - sometimes the little things can make a difference, especially when it comes to branding. I would venture an educated guess that users click on bookmarks with well-branded favicons more often than ones who don't have a favicon. It's such a simple thing to do, why leave it out?

It's just another thing to add to your website checklist to make yourself "fit in". Like creating a logo and layout, the challenge is getting something attractive, meaningful, and memorable.

I just got a favicon on all my sites...

I bet it does increase conversion rate slightly!

Thanks :)

David

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