Hidden text and/or links within a website or web page is an intentional process by which the web designer or webmaster hides text from the view of the people visiting the web page. Such black hate SEO marketing tactics can include hiding entire pages, otherwise known as cloaking.
The purpose behind using hidden text and links is to attempt to gain a better ranking with search engine results pages. Today, this deceptive spamdexing tactic is typically avoided by honest search engine marketing and web design professionals as most search engines are now designed to notice it. Once noticed, the website risks being blacklisted. Those unfamiliar with this tactic are encouraged to educate themselves to ensure it does not occur on their site.
How is Text and Links Hidden?
The most common method of creating hidden text and links is simply by manipulating the size and/or color of the font in relation to website’s background color or images so that any visitor viewing the web page never actually sees what is hidden.
- The font color is set to the same color (or a shade barely different) as the background (eg. white on white).
- The font color is set to the same color (or a shade barely different) as the image it is in front of. (eg. blue on blue).
- The font size is set to 1 or 0 making it completely impossible to read.
The purpose of manipulating the text in such a manner is that the designer knows that search engines can read all text on a web page regardless of font size or color. The designer uses this hidden text to “keyword stuff” the web page in an attempt to increase ranking. This tactic is then often sold to unaware victims as a legitimate means to search engine marketing.
Hidden Text and Link Search Engine Marketing – Why Do Search Engines Care?
Setting aside the idea that such a practice is limited only to novice designers, the intended purpose of hidden text and links is to obtain a search engine page rank that the site or page could not obtain on it’s own merits. Meaning that the content displayed for the visitor is not good enough to secure a good rank.
From the search engine’s point of view, this practice is seen as the “manipulation of a web page to give it an artificial boost in the search engine rankings”. Search engines such as Google or Bing are interested in quality content that serves a purpose, not such artificial boosters which are considered to be “SEO Spam”. Websites found employing such search engine marketing tactics risk being blacklisted and removed from the search engine completely.
Why Use Hidden Texts and Links in Search Engine Marketing
It goes without saying that the internet (world wide web) is a rather large place; there is literally trillions of web pages. Knowing this, it’s reasonable that no search engine today has the ability to completely monitor every single web page in existence.
As such, unscrupulous search engine marketing companies and webmasters will gamble that their use of hidden text and links will go unnoticed for some time. Like playing a game of ‘cat and mouse’, such individuals are motivated to make ‘fast money’; they show their client the good rankings they were able to achieve, collect their payment and then leave the scene before the eventual consequences are made known.
Search Engine Marketing – Quality Guidelines
It’s important to note that the types of hidden text and link tactics extends beyond what has been discussed in this articles. Regardless of how many ways might exist, the end result will ultimately remain the same; eventual removal from a search engine. A simple yet effective litmus test to determine whether or not the search engine marketing tactics employed on a website would be considered as quality, would be to ask the question posed on Google’s webmaster pages:
- “Does this help my users?”
- “Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
By avoiding search engine marketing tactics that artificially boost page ranking (such as hidden text and links), more time can be invested into producing quality content, that will in turn, naturally result in better search engine ranking; search engine optimization keyword tools and web search engine optimization keyword density analyzers can be of great assistance in ensuring keywords are relative to the content and not overused.
Whether one is a beginner web designer or simply in charge of hiring one (a designer or search engine marketing company), keep in mind that a website removed from a web search engine cannot be found by anyone.