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Hidden Content - Way Back Wednesday #1

Adrian Bredeson
by Adrian Bredeson on Jun 15, 2011 1:48:00 PM

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Hide Content and You will Hide Yourself on Search Engines

Hidden Content is text that Website visitors cannot see, but is indexable by the search engines. People used hidden content as a way to stuff keywords into the text of site pages without visitors seeing the text. Including hidden text on a Website is an easy way to get Google to remove the site from their index, as it blatantly violates Google's standards.

Hidden links are another technique used in the past, for much the same reason. Websites could include numerous links without appearing spammy to their visitors. Unfortunately for those Websites, search engines no longer reward hidden content or links and have penalized the practice for years.

Not getting the search visibility you think you deserve? Suspicious your site may have hidden content or links? Look for the following methods and work to remove any hidden text as soon as possible.

Methods of Hiding Text and Links:

    • Text color that is the same color as the background of a page.

 

    • Tiny hyperlinks programmed into the CSS, as small as one pixel high.

 

  • Links are programmed off of a small character, hidden within a body of content, for example, a comma in the middle of a paragraph is linked.

When to use Hidden Text:

Though hidden content and links used to game the search engines should be avoided, there are exceptions. When your Website utilizes technology that Websites can't access (images, Javascript, Flash files, etc.), you can and should use approved tags, which technically are hidden to visitors. When used properly, these methods of making your site more accessible to search engines and visitors using screen readers, mobile browsers, browsers without plug-ins, etc., are not penalized by search engines. From an SEO point of view, using optimized, relevant text within these tags is encouraged. Using targeted keywords in these descriptions can be beneficial; stuffing these tags with keywords is not.

The Bottom Line

Using hidden content stuffed with keywords, or hiding links throughout a Website may still work for a short period of time, and you may see an increase in your search visibility. But the spike won't be long-lived, and the penalties can be severe. There's simply no excuse for hiding content or links on a Website. Grow your site naturally, with targeted, educational content that will benefit your visitors. Relevant content, optimized for the key phrases you're targeting will benefit your business in the long run. Don't try to game the search engines with this outdated technique, it's just not worth it.

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Adrian Bredeson
Written by Adrian Bredeson
As Director, SEO and Social Media at E-Power Marketing, Adrian is primarily focused on the organic success of client programs through SEO, social media and content marketing. Adrian also heads up the agency's marketing initiatives. With a background in psychology and PR, her passion for telling a brand's story by understanding and engaging with their target audiences has been put to good use at E-Power!

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