Links in SVGs Not Followed by Google

Links in SVGs Not Followed by Google

If you are a webmaster who makes regular use of Scalable Vector Graphics, or SVGs for short, then you may be very interested to find out that Google does not follow links which are embedded in the lines of XML-code that your graphics are generated with.

SVGs themselves are two dimensional images which have built in support for animation and user interactivity and they are defined by means of simple XML text files which can also include xlink:href links.

Unlike traditional bitmap images which are made up using pixels, vector images are constructed using mathematical drawing instructions and, as such, they can be scaled to practically any size without any loss of quality whatsoever. When a user begins zooming in and out of a page that contains bitmap graphics, such as .jpeg, .png or .gif files, the pixels that make up the image become clearly visible and the image quality can suffer dramatically as a result of this resizing. When vector graphics are used, images retain their high quality at all times.

SVG rendering is supported by virtually all modern web browsers which includes Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox and because SVGs are text based they can be searched and indexed, scripted and compressed rather easily with minimal overheads and little complication. Scalable Vector Graphics are also simple to manipulate and images can even be rotated by any angle without any perceivable quality loss.

Google first started crawling and indexing SVG images around six years ago and they also appear in Google Image search. However, the news that any links contained within these images are not indexed has only just been confirmed.

This was prompted by the following question on Twitter:

“@JohnMu Quick q. Does Google recognise links and follow them just like links in html pages? Tests show it doesn’t.”

To which Google’s John Mueller replied:

“AFAIK we don’t support links in SVGs, so your tests are probably correct.”

Of course, links assigned to bitmap images using links have always been recognized and indexed – so if you are a webmaster who makes extensive use of SVGs and you use them to link to your internal pages or external sites then now is a good time to rethink your strategy.