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hidden text
vampke

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 7:22 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi guys,

just a question on hidden text and google: is there a way google can be tricked with this?
I use css to do it, but i'm not sure i should
i set the fontsize to 0.2em and the colour very simular (but not identical) to the background colour

is this ok or should i expect a penalty?

*cheers*

vamp

 

birdstuff

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:24 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

...is this ok or should i expect a penalty?

No and yes.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:28 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you get caught, expect a penalty.

There have been reports of googlebot reading external css files but so far as I am aware, this is not standard practice yet.

If your hidden text is simply SEO, I don't have a major problem with it, but if you are trying to attract visitors to a site with no content or irrelevant content in the hope that they'll click your adverts, I would be happy to see your whole site wiped out. I suspect that view is widely shared around here.

Kaled.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:31 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hidden text is wrong no matter what content on on the page.

NuffRespect

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:32 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I second that Kaled

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:35 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hidden text is wrong no matter what content on on the page.

Not always, sometimes its legit - for example some people write what they really meant but did not want everyone to see in HTML comments (so that you need to see source), or using same color for background/font so that you need to use your mouse select to see REAL text.

Now purpose of that is contrary to what spammers do as spammers don't want hidden text to be seen, where as these legit uses actually want people to see hidden text, its just not for everyone.

Weird? Perhaps. Not legitimate? No. What would most search engines do? Most likely drop page, even though I hope they do additional analysis to put things into perspective, ie total hidden words vs not hidden.

incywincy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:35 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Do you like being tricked and manipulated?

Google certainly don't

Good content, good navigational structure, titles and descriptions and quality inbound and outbound links are what google likes.

work hard and sleep easy at night.

vampke

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:44 am on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

hi guys, thanks for the respons

i certainly don't want to trick peolple and i don't have banners on the site
i read on a seo site that hidden links were the way to go, all though i had some doubts, the guy seemed to know what he was talking about and made one good point: google cannot see if a link is hidden if you don't use the exact colour of the background (ie cccccc as background and dedede as font colour)
although i am pretty new to the website building thingy, i allready had some result with this technique.

the thing is, there are a lot of search terms out there that only have very few responses and do fit my products, but i can't put all of these in the site, because it will sound very silly

how would you guys suggest i would go about this?

coho75

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 12:15 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Build a new page for each search term you want to target. This is the correct way to do it. Hiding text, you may learn, will get you banned or penalized from some search engines.

coho75

tenerifejim

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 12:18 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hiding text is easy. Create a background .gif for a table cell or a page that is the same colour as the text you want to hide. No SE can work it out.

Infact why you do what more and more people seem to be doing today. Just create a section on each page called 'keywords' and create a comma separated list of all terms even remotely relevant to what you want people to search on.

Or even, just create a robot to grab text off other people's sites who rank well and use it as your own.

I wonder why google is now increasing the relevance of on-topic inbound links? I just can't work it out!

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 12:22 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

create a comma separated list of all terms even remotely relevant to what you want people to search on.

Good text analysis should catch it because people don't write stuff in form of: "keyword1, keyword2, keyword3" etc. I also think this is where outsourcing to India and other countries with inexpensive labour can be useful, just think about it:

1 person looking at 1 URL for 1 minute (being generous here - should take a lot less time to determine if a page is spam or not) will check ~500 URLs in an 8 hours long working day, or 120k a year.

1,000 people there will cost $10k each (max!) per year, so total cost is $10 mln per year for checking 120,000,000 suspicious (flagged by software) URLs.

Of course going this route for a company with overpriced shares is hard because they will have to admit that sometimes a cheap hammer can do the job without having to hire 10 PhDs.

karmov

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 1:06 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

A good rule of thumb is that if you have to ask other people whether or not something is right or if you could get penalized, 9 times out of 10 it's wrong and you may get penalized.

Now asking whether or not you'll get caught doing something you already know is wrong is a fair question :)

tenerifejim

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 2:27 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

$10k each (max!) per

Not even that. But would you trust another human being to rank your site against others? Imagine the bribery. Imagine the lawsuits. Imagine the DMOZ.

Lord Majestic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 2:32 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

But would you trust another human being to rank your site against others?

I would not trust them to "rank", but I would trust to make simple decision "yes or no" whether particular URL is spam or not - it does not take genious to see whether it was cloaking or not. In DMOZ they don't make decisions as simple as that as its easy to introduce bias, but spam is spam - when I get spam emails I have not had difficulty recognising those that were spam even if I did not see who sent them!

Who will watch the watchmen? Easy - every URL will be tested by different people at different locations, if they all fail to make same decision then higher level reviews will see. $10k in India is very good money, is it worth losing nice easy job that pays well?

$10 mln is nothing to Google, and extra eyeballs could do a lot of harm to spammers, in fact enough can be done to make it very hard to spam.

Talking of DMOZ - I was analysing their dataset recently and found that at least 1% of all URLs point to "adult" websites :o

Patrick Taylor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 2:39 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hidden text is wrong no matter what content on on the page.

I agree, with the exception of <noscript>text here for people who don't have JavaScript enabled</noscript> and need to be able to see it for accessibility purposes. There's no escaping the principle that hidden text not designed for humans is a form of cheating. I personally doubt if Google or other search engines do much about it in terms of penalties - except in extreme cases that happen to be witnessed by their staff - and I wouldn't have thought it did much good anyway. It seems rather "old hat". If someone can't build a decent page without hiding bits of stuff here and there...

bears5122

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 3:11 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

It may be wrong but it works. For every 1 site that gets banned, there are thousands that go free. The odds are in your favor.

I've always taken this approach. Do whatever you want to your site, it's yours. If Google doesn't like it and ban you, so be it. I don't think we should ever put people down for doing that kind of stuff. It is their property. It is not their fault Google can't figure it out. I mean we have a multi-billion dollar company more worried about playing games with a few hundred SEOs than fixing clear problems in their SERPs like this.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 4:14 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If Google doesn't like it and ban you, so be it.

This may be easy for you to say but when you rely on the traffic generated by Google through one website for your business "so be it" is not an option.

Google delivers about 80% of my traffic because my target market uses Google. I cannot afford to lose this.

There are a few of us in this position.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 4:22 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

the guy seemed to know what he was talking about and made one good point: google cannot see if a link is hidden if you don't use the exact colour of the background

This screams one thing to me - the guy is an ignorant, no-brain, BS merchant. Identifying similar colors is easy and GoogleGuy has confirmed that they can do it.

Kaled.

hazardtomyself

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 5:14 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

What about this scenario:
Site has alot of content, all in images. Is it wrong to css the *exact same text* in a display:none css file? Should Google penalize that?

bears5122

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 7:13 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the guy was saying that you make a background picture file as a solid color. Such as background.gif. Then make the text the same color. There is no way Google can differentiate that.

chrisnrae

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 7:37 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I see a lot of people turning this into a moral debate so here is the bottomline without all the opinions of ethics:

it may work, but it's a risky technique. Google won't like it IF they figure out you're doing it, and it could get you banned.

Now you know the risk - it is up to you whether or not to decide to take it. Everyone has their own "risk comfort level" - you have to decide what yours is and work within it.

GranPops

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 7:58 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Might I suggest that if someone wishes to post something like, "I am a brilliant programmer whose brain is out of control, and as I love conning search engines, do you think I can get away with this?", they should post the URL in their profile, so that G will be inundated within hours with SPAM reports from webmasters who are not in need of psychiatric help.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 7:58 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Simple answer to the question here. It just wouldn't make sense for anyone to be using hidden text unless the SERP was competitive. If the SERP really is competitive, then it's a safe bet if you rocket to the top in Google, other webmasters competing for that SERP will rat you out to Google. Thus, the ONLY case it makes sense to use hidden text is with throwaway spam sites that you figure enough of them will rank well long enough to make the game worthwhile. Most surely DON'T use hidden text on a non-expendable domain.

yowza

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 8:14 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I were competing with you, I would definitely file a spam report. In fact, I filed one yesterday for someone using hidden text that took over my number one position in the SERPS. If one person gets away with it, everyone will start doing it.

What about this scenario:
Site has alot of content, all in images. Is it wrong to css the *exact same text* in a display:none css file? Should Google penalize that?
Ethically there is nothing wrong with this; however, I believe that Google would and should penalize this because it could be very easily abused.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 8:28 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the SERP really is competitive, then it's a safe bet if you rocket to the top in Google, other webmasters competing for that SERP will rat you out to Google.

Ratting on people to Google seldom works. I did this on a couple of occasions months ago and the sites I reported are still there and still using the same black hat techniques.

It is only by exception that Google makes manual changes. They may adjust their algo in an attempt to root out offending sites but it does not always work. Think about it, how many such reports per day do you think Google gets? 100? 1000? 10,000?

siteseo

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 8:42 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate to see SEO going down this road. Isn't your time better spent writing quality copy and presenting users with a viable website? I maintain that a well-designed website that is user friendly and optimized using ethical SEO techniques will persist long-term in G, as well as other engines. Legitimate websites are less likely to link to your site if it's manipulated in a shady fashion, helping the quality sites to win out in the long haul.
If I hit a site using shady tactics I will not do business with them and will report them to G. Whether G acts on it or not is not up to me.
Keep doing the dark SEO and you may get a short-term boost in the serps, but probably not for long.

[edited by: ciml at 5:29 pm (utc) on Sep. 2, 2004]
[edit reason] (turning off notification) [/edit]

oaktown

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 9:03 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Before this thread deteriorates into the pit of "good vs evil", I think the question still stands as "is this ok or should i expect a penalty?"

Black hat or white hat notwithstanding, I think most of us would agree that if for ANY reason, Google ever put human eyes on a site doing what is described, they would definitely say it was not "OK".

I don't ever want to be in a position of having had a site penalized and then trying to explain my practices to G. Been there, done that, didn't like it! And yes, I did find forgiveness in G's heart)

Should he expect a penalty? If caught, I would say expect a heavy hit if not a complete ban.

Just my 1.75 cents worth of opinion.

vampke

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 9:11 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

well i think a few guys are getting the wrong idea of my initial question here!
i want to put it clearly that i do NOT try to trick people into getting to my site and i'm not a spammer
it 's just that there are a lot of search words with very few results but that apply to my product
i cannot write 1 page with all those words, so i was just wondering if i should use some hidden text (as i have tried with good result)
it is impossible to write a decent text using all those words and i don't have time or even webspace to write seperate pages for all of these search words
any ideas would be appreciated

The_Hitcher

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:16 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you can't get all those words on one page - make more pages. Getting hung up over your index page is not a great road to go down. Few home pages have the scope to say everything you need to say anyway. Expand your site.

LowLevel

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 25541 posted 11:30 pm on Sep 1, 2004 (gmt 0)


google cannot see if a link is hidden if you don't use the exact colour of the background

Why not?

The guy that told you this, knows nothing about computer science.

I've programmed a tool that detects, among other things, hidden text (and almost hidden text) in web pages. You can set background and foreground colors using CSS, images, HTML tags and attributes....

If the invisibility is achieved using the same color for foreground and background (or with other simple methods, like CSS "hidden" property), the tool will detect it.

Hidden text detection is not easy to program, but it is possible.

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