Noble Samurai posted this nice article on the First Link Priority issue. In a nutshell, if you have two links going from one page to another, only the first one counts, the rest are ignored.
So if your first link is an image, then you are not passing along those rich anchor text keywords. They provide a few examples on how to detect and fix the issue. The main technique is image replacement, which we do use on the newer site. However, to confess, it was more about “graceful degradation” and device compatibility then SEO.
You can see a violation of this rule on Rainydaygames.ca’s Action Games category page. As you can see, the thumbnail image precedes the text link. We could use text replacement here, but since there are quite a few images in some of the categories, we run the risk of violating another law: Show Google what you show your users.
From my readings, using the text replacement method once or twice is perfectly safe. Past that, it starts to get risking. Instead for RDG’s categories, I would just move the image to the right side so that the link comes first in order and then the image. The other option is to move the game title up and span across columns.
Ah, Rainy Day Games. She was a beauty queen back in the day. She ranked number one for most of her games, but now time as faded her. I guess it’s time for a face lift. Scalpel here we come.
It’s going to be a big job.