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Are Links Without Anchor Text Considered "Hidden Links"?

 7:43 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

A year or so ago, I tried removing some internal links, but I failed to do this directly in the html. Rather, I simply deleted the links as I saw them in the design view (Dreamweaver). For some reason, the <a> portion of the links remained, and only the anchor text was deleted. This was a careless mistake on my part, but it raises an obvious question... were those being seen as hidden? I've done a sitewide search-and-replace to eliminate all occurrences (total of about 7, including a couple of outbound links, but mostly internal).

My thought is that they are seen as hidden, since all lynx browsers and fetching as Googlebot shows the link in the code. This is a lesson learned for me-- make sure the link is fully deleted by viewing the html.



 10:09 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

These links are hidden, but whether a site would get penalised is a different matter. I think that many CMS suffer from this as the user deletes anchor text in design view, without realising the link remains - I have seen this a lot.

I would imagine that internal "hidden" links would not be an issue with Google, but if you have many external "hidden" links, they may, or they may only if the site has some additional spam signals.

What I am trying to say is that this situation is reasonably common occurence and I do not believe sites would be blanked penalised for this.


 10:40 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would imagine that internal "hidden" links would not be an issue with Google

I got one of my sites banned by Google for this back in early 2001, trying to hide links from the home page to a couple of directories that contained link pages from a couple of linking programs. I cleaned them up but the site was still banned in 2003. It took a trip to Boston Pubcon, a hair shirt, some genuflecting and mea-culpa-ing before Matt Cutts to get the site back in Google's good graces.

But, it's important to note that I was trying to game the system, it wasn't a simple oversight, and when Google saw where those links were going (the footprints of the two programs were pretty easy to spot) it dropped the hammer.


 10:59 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I forgot about the possibility of anchorless links to internal "links"/"directory" pages, thanks for pointing this out - and I can see why this would be frowned upon.

There may be other factors in play too - for example, Google knowing there *was* an anchor text on the page in the past which got deleted versus a link where anchor text was never there in the first place.

And as you pointed out - the type of page the anchorless link points to could influence how these are seen.

But on the other hand I have seen many sites that have a few anchorless links and it does not appear that the site has suffered for it.

Perhaps the factor is also that the landscape has changed from early 2000s - there were not so many CMSs around then so anchorless links may have stood out more in the past as there was less chance such links have been added in by mistake.

<Corrected spelling>

[edited by: aakk9999 at 12:22 am (utc) on Sep 14, 2013]


 11:18 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

But on the other hand I have seen many sites that have a few anchorless links and it does not appear that the site has suffered for it.

I think number/ratio would likely come into play here -- In-other words: I doubt 7 site-wide on even a 50 page site would "raise a big red flag" [especially if they pointed to *different* pages and some of the links were external] *but* 3 on every page of a site [especially if they all pointed to the *same* 3 pages] would likely scream "manipulative" and probably get it tanked.


 7:47 pm on Sep 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

As aakk999 states, this is common; I've seen this most often on B2B sites where a sponsor / exhibitor has been 'removed' from sight by having their logo deleted but the link is left in the source code.

It doesn't seem to hurt the sites it's on so perhaps Google has some sort of pattern-matching in place to infer why the link is invisible - error or intent to cloak.

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