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Pseudo-Cloaking using CSS



4:23 pm on Mar 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had an idea. Maybe this has been tried, so I thought I'd run it by the board for some opinions.

I'm using a CSS file to position a graphic (banner) at the top of a page. I found that since the CSS always gets it's way, it will cover anything else that happens to be there.

So what if I were to put some keyword links up there and maybe some keywords with H1 tags, right up there high on the page where the spiders like 'em?

Sure it'd look like a train wreck in the Google cache, but it already will because of the absolute positioning of the graphic. My concern is will any of the browsers see it? Also, it seems to me that it borders on the same principle as invisible text. So far IE and Opera don't show it. Just wondering if anyone else has tried this technique? I couldn't have been the first to think of it.



7:32 pm on Mar 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm using CSS with absolute positioning on one client's site -- but not to hide any divs, just to rearrange the HTML page so that the headers and other keyword elements are at the top of the code instead of the banner and nav areas.

So far, the response is good at Google, Ink and Fast for principle two word phrases and not so good at AV (most important pages/kws there are below the top 30) -- however I still don't understand the "new" AltaVista very well.

I'm wary of showing the SEs any elements that the browsers can't see. Right now there are several CSS tricks that seem to "work" (unless the SE views your site manually) but this can always change. The sophistication of SE algos is growing at a rapid pace.

The biggest downside to hidden text of any kind, no matter how it is achieved, is that every search engine explicitly states you may be penalized or dropped for the practice, if they uncover it. And the sophistication of search engines is growing at a rapid pace

I would never use any hiding technique on a principle domain. Too much is invested in developing content that attracts and converts. Why suffer the traffic drop that a ban would cause?

In fact, I'm concerned that some legitimate uses of CSS may look like subterfuge to the first generation of alogrithms that set out to analyze external style sheets.


10:16 pm on Mar 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am working on a page that uses absoulute positioning with several layers. The navigation of the page is all dynamic by turning the visibility on and off, depending on what the user wants to see. Its kind of like a flash one screen site where the content changes.
Do you think this could be a problem?


10:56 pm on Mar 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


This is exactly the kind of DHTML functionality that I'm using on the home page of the site I mentioned above. So far, the rank is excellent. On a different site, I'm using some elements that start with negative positioning (off the screen) and move onto the screen through time and user action.

Both of these legitimate uses of CSS are of some concern to me into the future, because I can see that algorithms might target visibility:hidden or negative position as obviously open to abuse.

Added to that, unravelling the intricacies of DHTML to discover that the elements eventually do (or can) appear on screen is a very complex job -- so my concern is that early css algos might take an easy road that penalizes the "innocent".

But as I said, so far there have been no problems that I know of, and my results seem fine.

Besides that, user feedback really seems to like the DHTML. It helps keep the screen uncluttered, with functionality "tucked away but close at hand". So I'm not going to drop it unless I'm forced to.


2:21 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I really don't think something like that, that has a legitimate use should be a problem with SEs.....at least not until the spammers pick up on it and abuse it.

[my 2cents]
I think it's just like a lot of techniques in this cat-and-mouse game. Once it catches on to the point where everyone is trying it, and the SEs don't have the resources to determine what's legit and what's abuse, then they may decide any use at all gets banned. I think we have a long, long way to go before that happens.[/my 2 cents]



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