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Does Google read your stylesheets?

 8:49 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know if Googlebot reads your stylesheets when checking links? Through CSS I have a couple of links that are not underlined and the anchor text is the same color as the rest of the page (so they don't look like links until you put your mouse over them) but I want to make sure that this isn't going to be seen as link spamming.



 12:46 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is it not the case that Google's cache tells you exactly what has been read by Googlebot? Look at the cached results then click "Cached Text Only". This should show you what Google is seeing on your site.


 12:57 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting. All CSS is lost (at least on the sites I just checked). Is that a bad thing or does it even matter, since there's just colors and font sizes/styles in it?


 1:21 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am afraid Google can consider spamming if you use css color for links, and without css the links are similar color as the backgroung


 3:34 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am afraid Google can consider spamming if you use css color for links, and without css the links are similar color as the backgroung

Right, I'm asking about the opposite of that though - there are no color settings within the HTML, all fonts/colors/link styles are done through CSS. As far as the HTML is concerned, all of the links are <a class="whatever" href="whatever.html">text</a> - but a few of the links, to maintain design consistency with a specific area, are not underlined and match the background.

So would that be considered SEO spam? The raw HTML looks perfectly normal, but through CSS some of the links do appear to be "hidden".

And since some of you are probably thinking of it, no, I'm not an SEO spammer looking for ways to beat the system :P I just want to make sure that my design isn't going to make Google think I am.


 5:41 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Correction to my last post, the link colors do not match the BACKGROUND, they match the regular foreground text color. Basically they don't look like links with the exception that they turn into a hand when you move the mouse over them, they just look like regular text.


 5:43 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

You are fine, the reason that your styles are not shown in the cache is because you are using a relative link ref. If you change your css link to absolute your page will then look right.


 5:26 pm on Jul 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hmm, I just checked the "cached" link for one of my sites and the G cached page is showing the CSS on it, and I use a relative link for it (/style.css).


 9:08 pm on Jul 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

You have to click "text only" on the top, then you will not see the css


 1:24 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ho boy, right, how the heck did I forget that! I even mentioned it in an earlier post.....yep, CSS disappears (when "text only" is clicked). So, no one has commented if this is a bad thing or not.

Also, why will G consider it spamming if you use CSS for link attributes? Don't most people do that if they use CSS? On one of my sites where I use CSS and clicked the "text only" link on the G cached page, I COULD still see everything, the links were not hidden, obviously because the links' color are a different color than the page background. So I guess in that case G couldn't consider it spamming.?


 1:47 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can hardly see Google penalising CSS as it's being used more and more!

We've launched several sites written in pure DIV elements and CSS - rankings have improved if anything.


 3:47 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think the original poster was asking if google may penalize a site if they use CSS to hide text or links!

An example would be if {visibility:hidden} was used to hide a bunch of keywords that the webmaster only created to try and boast his/her rankings.

So they question is can google understand CSS to an extent where it can find hidden text/links which it clearly dislikes (from the google webmaster guidelines)?

Appologies if this is not what the question was!


 4:20 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I never noticed the "cached text only" link before. I also noticed that google puts a crawl date on their cached copy. Amazing the little things you miss!


 4:40 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, Google (as opposed to Googlebot) does read stylesheets. Did you think that the browsers on engineer's desktops would be tweeked to ignore them?

And yes, it could be considered link spamming during a manual check if there is no indication that it is a link.

It is unlikely that googlebot would catch such things automatically.


 2:20 pm on Jul 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

What you could so is creat a stylesheet and link it to your pages. This makes for easier editing. Though Google doesn't read the code..it just make it longer for it to reach the text. Removing it will allow your content to be reached sooner.

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