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Hidden Text and Doorway Pages Behind Flash

 6:07 pm on Feb 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are seeing more and more all FLASH sites with hidden text linking to doorway pages behind the FLASH. The links to the doorway pages can only be found in the hidden text - not in any public navigation.

The content of the hidden text and doorway pages on those thousands of sites is relevant to the sites but put there "only" for the search engines to find.

Google seems to allow, or at least ignore these clear spam violations.

Is it the content match or is it possible that Google finds this acceptable with all FLASH sites these days?




 4:49 am on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's always good to know what Google says officially. The following was written in July 2007 on the official Google blog:

The only hard and fast rule is to show Googlebot the exact same thing as your users. If you don't, your site risks appearing suspicious to our search algorithms. This simple rule covers a lot of cases including cloaking, JavaScript redirects, hidden text, and doorway pages


So that tells us their intent. Now, do they always penalize violations? Definitely not, especially when it comes to Flash and splash pages. I'm working with one site right now that came to me with an obvious violation, although not done with truly devious intent. I have not noticed that their "hidden" links are causing any indexing or ranking problems.

It's a "relative level of risk" game, I'd say. Some things work at least for a while, and then they blow up. Hiding a doorway page behind a Flash movie just might blow up on you if you get a spam report against it, but clearly it can also work.

The question I have yet to answer is this: if you get "convicted of spamming", how much will that cripple future ranking for the domain, even after the spam is corrected? I think (but am not sure) that the answer is it will follow you indefinitely. I think it can make your domain susceptible to various hijacks, for example, because it carries a weakened trust rating.


 6:21 am on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

these clear spam violations

Hmm, if it's simply a non-Flash version of the same basic content, then I don't see a problem with that (except that they should dump the Flash version altogether, IMHO), and I don't think Google would either.

If it's true hidden spam then you're right, but there's nothing wrong with providing a plain HTML version of your site for users who aren't using Flash-enabled browsers. In other words, just because it's "hidden" doesn't a priori make it spam.


 11:35 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wish I could show links here - The sites are loaded with hidden text with links going to pages that are only for the search engines. There are no public links on the site to the doorway pages all hidden.

Google loves it - it's all big bold text with links that go to pages that link to each other. The only way you can find those pages is through Google - again, there are no public links to them on the site.

Hidden text and doorway pages should be cut and dried like running a stop sign. "But officer, I slowed down at the stop sign" shouldn't change the outcome.

Maybe Google has an unwritten rule that it's OK to spam them under certain circumstances. I can't see any other reason for these things surviving as long as they have. The most amazing part is how well they do in Google even with low and no PRs. Giant text and spammy use of keywords. Reminds me of the good ole days 7 or 8 years ago.



 3:15 am on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe Google has an unwritten rule that it's OK to spam them under certain circumstances.

More like the Google algo has trouble finding this kind of thing right now. I do know of one major site that got penalized for this kind of thing behind a Flash movie, but as we both know, it seems to work for others.


 3:34 am on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)


As you may know I just past my 10th year of doing this. It still bothers me to see people getting away with what I would never consider doing.

And, you're right Google more than likely just can't deal with most of what they consider to be spam.


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