Google Penalizing Bad Website Favicons

A few weeks ago, something quite peculiar occurred. Spoilers, it’s not as bad as you would think.


Back in May, Google launched a new mobile search design that takes favicons and shows them in search snippets.


There were a lot of people that took advantage of this of course, this is like a small boost when it comes to branding. Unfortunately, there were a few suites that went completely sideways and still went against the Favicon guidelines.


Predictably, Google went on ahead and “penalized” these sites.


Before we get into the head cutting, let’s take a look at the list of guidelines Google has for this Favicon update:


Both the favicon file and the home page must be crawlable by Google

– Easy enough to remember right? However there are still a lot of sites out there that cannot follow this. And most times it might not be completely the fault of the website owners. But that’s why SEO companies here in Singapore are here for. The experts can take a look at your site and recommend the correct and proper implementations.


Favicons should be a visual representation of your website’s brand

– This is done in order to help users to quickly identify websites. And you would want that to occur of course so that people will remember your site and therefore your brand when they scan through search results.


Favicon should be a multiple of 48px square, for example: 48x48px, 96x96px, 144x144px and so on.

– Keep in mind that any valid favicon format is supported. Because Google will rescale your image to 16x16px for use in search results. This means that you will need to make sure that it looks good at that resolution.


The favicon URL should be static

– Never use a dynamic URL for your Favicon


Google will not show any favicon that it deems inappropriate, including pornography or hate symbols like Swastikas for example

– If these types of imagery are discovered within a favicon, Google will replace it with a sort of standard default icon.



And that right there is the main penalty. If Google thinks your Favicon is showing images that aren’t deemed good, they will automatically replace it when they display your pages on the search results. Although there really isn’t any sort of effect for the part of the rankings, this ensures that only the goodie good shoes types of websites and businesses get their brand displayed on search results.


All of which aren’t technically bad.


At this point, there really isn’t any clear cut tips on how Google will let these updates last, how the penalties are issued and if site owners will be notified. The update is still fairly new, so manual actions to be added in to Google Search Console might be added into the tool in the future.


So whenever your SEO service providers give out recommendations that include modifications about your Favicon logos, you will need to pay attention and follow the directions carefully.


We can all take advantage of this but in a good way that the site will actually benefit and not be anchored by having its brand logo replaced.