Google's Matt Cutts put up a new Webmaster Help video, discussing how Google handles font replacement. The video was created in response to a user-submitted question:
How does Google view font replacement (ie. Cufan, SIFR, FLIR)? Are some methods better than others, are all good, all bad?
"So we have mentioned some specific stuff like SIFR that we're OK with. But again, think about this," says Cutts. "You want to basically show the same content to users that you do to Googlebot. And so, as much as possible, you want to show the same actual content. So we've said that having fonts using methods like SIFR is OK, but ideally, you might concentrate on some of the newer stuff that has been happening in that space."
"So if you search for web fonts, I think Google, for example, has a web font directory of over 100 different web fonts," Cutts says. "So now we're starting to get the point where, if you use one of these types of commonly available fonts, you don't even have to do font replacement using the traditional techniques. It's actual letters that are selectable and copy and pastable in your browser. So it's not the case that we tend to see a lot of deception and a lot of abuse."
"If you were to have a logo here and then underneath the logo have text that's hidden that says buy cheap Viagra, debt consolidation, mortgages online, that sort of stuff, then that could be viewed as deceptive," he adds.
In fact, that's exactly the kind of thing that can get you in trouble with Google's Penguin update, even if Google doesn't get you with a manual penalty. To avoid this, here's more advice from Google, regarding hidden text.
"But if the text that's in the font replacement technique is the same as what is in the logo, then you should be in pretty good shape," Cutts wraps up the video. "However, I would encourage people to check out some of this newer stuff, because the newer stuff doesn't actually have to do some of these techniques. Rather, it's the actual letters, and it's just using different ways of marking that up, so that the browser, it looks really good. And yet, at the same time, the real text is there. And so search engines are able to index it and process it, just like they would normal text."