Google Revised The Favicon Documentation

Google revised their documentation on Favicons in order to add definitions in response to user questions received about favicons and what to use. The updated version of the documentation is significantly better because it explains the difference between the legacy form of favicon and the latest version of it.


A favicon is a visual representation of a site and when properly executed it can draw attention to itself in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and encourage more clicks. The favicon is linked with the “rel” HTML attribute, which shows the relation between a linked resource (the favicon) and the webpage itself. REL stands for relation.

Revision Of Documentation

Google’s support page for favicon was revised in the section about which kinds of favicons are recommended and adds more details that explains which are legacy and which are modern versions.

These Are The Changes

This section was revised and essentially removed:

Set the rel attribute to one of the following strings:

  • icon
  • apple-touch-icon
  • apple-touch-icon-precomposed
  • shortcut icon

The problem with the above section is the use of the word “strings” means text, but it’s needlessly jargony and not informative enough.

That section was replaced with this:

Google supports the following rel attribute values for specifying a favicon; use whichever one fits your use case:

  • icon
    The icon that represents your site, as defined in the HTML standard.
  • apple-touch-icon
    An iOS-friendly icon that represents your site, per Apple’s developer documentation.
  • apple-touch-icon-precomposed
    An alternative icon for earlier versions of iOS, per Apple’s developer documentation.

There is also a new callout box with the following information:

“For historical reasons, we also support shortcut icon, which is an earlier, alternative version of icon.”

Screenshot of new callout box

A “shortcut icon” is a term that refers to an old way of signaling the presence of a favicon by using rel=”shortcut icon” instead of rel=”icon” so what Google’s documentation states is that they will still support the non-standard way of linking to a favicon.

The new documentation is improved with wording that is more descriptive.

Read the new documentation here:

Define a favicon to show in search results

Compare it to the old documentation here:

Internet Archive: Define a favicon to show in search results

Featured Image by Shutterstock/GoodStudio

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