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Reported a site for hidden text on Homepage via webmaster tools!

Google removed them for two weeks, now they are back in the index!

     
1:59 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Unbelievable, last month I reported a site via webmaster tools that had hidden text with repeated keywords stuffed on the bottom of the page. A few days after reporting the site, Google removed the site completely out of the index.

I have been monitoring the site daily and today noticed it was back in the index and not a thing changed on the site! It still has almost 400 words in hidden text listed at the bottom of the home page.

Has anyone else seen Google do this?

5:28 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why even bother reporting those sites?

Do you really think the hidden words are pulling a fast one on Google?

5:59 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Do you really think the hidden words are pulling a fast one on Google?

If they are ranking, isn't it obvious that they are?

6:19 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Other factors?

I just think the algo is too advanced to be duped by hidden text.

9:20 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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trinorthlighting

Was the said site back on all datacenters?

11:31 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just think the algo is too advanced to be duped by hidden text.

There are so many ways to hide text/links that the algo impossibly could find.
The only way to find it would be renedering the page in a browser engine, and even that wouldn't help much, if the text is only to be shown on user interaction.

2:47 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes, its back on all data centers as of yesterday. Its still there this morning.
2:58 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I reported it again last night and am waiting to see what google does. Funny thing about this site, it was discussed in detail over in google groups where you can post url' under the webmaster section. Adam even commented on the thread and more than likely saw the site himself.

This goes to show googlebot is not smart enough to detect hidden text, heck it can not even recognize simple hidden text. Here are a few snippets of code from the site:

body bgcolor="#ffffff"

<p><font color="#FFFFFF" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">keyword1, keyword 2, etc...

Notice, the only difference in the code is small and CAPS

3:14 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I had reported approximately 100 domains and subdomains, together with hundreds of IPs hosting several thousands of domains/subdomains running the same script...

Although in September they were all removed, now they are well in again..

I remember seeing one of the pages with PR4 (toolbar)...

Those were 302 spammers, with evidence linking them to domain auction pages on major brokering sites...

They were removed, but now they are in again... I noticed them changing their links to do 301 redirects, but after a month or so (when they got back into Google's index) they changed the links back to 302's...

3:25 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have been watching a site using bgcolor #000000 font color #000000 size 1 for close to 5 years without any penalty, so the algo is far from advanced.
3:37 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Also, I know there is no type of penatly on the site because it is ranking right in the same place in certain keywords before google removed them.

Its now obvious:

1. Google does not have the technology to catch simple hidden text.

2. If a site gets reported for hidden text, it will be removed for 20-30 days then be recrawled and reindexed without the site being fixed or even checked.

3. When the site comes back in the index with hidden text still in place, there is no penalty that will stick such as a -30 or -100 penalty. I know this because the site in question ranks exactly in the same place in the serps as it did before they were removed.

9:30 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Well, google has not penalized the site in anyway for breaking guidelines by using hidden text on the home page. Very discouraging and frustrating since google always preaches about reporting sites.

Its an obvious violation, the site has been removed from the index then it came back in without a thing changing on the homepage. Reported again for the same thing and nothing has happened.

10:27 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't think Google manually bans most sites for hidden text - they use such reports to work on their algo in most cases. I tend to agree with the above comments that the hidden text is often not really the reason for ranking well at any rate. I even think Google sometimes lets such things go for a while just to study the situation.

Also note, Google's guidelines are not of the nature "disobey these rules and we will penalize you." They never said that -- they even call them guidelines, not rules. They do say they like to know, but they don't promise any action in particular

Google's job is to put results in front of the end user that the end user likes. It's not to set up a ranking contest for webmasters, complete with rules that some judges' panel will enforce. It might seem like that to us at times, but that's not really what they are about. If we stop looking at Google from within that framework, then things often clarify a bit.

10:35 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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True to a point tedster, but it gives the site an advantage and its very frustrating to see a site that ranks well due to the keywords.

It was obvious when google banned the site for a period and removed them from the index that they thought it was serious enough to remove them from the index though.

One wonders if the data refresh erases the manually applied penalties because the site did not come back into the index until after the 20th December data refresh.

11:02 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What to do when the site has page after page that are the same, just for different keywords such as keyword, keywork, neyword, newyork
The unfortunate thing about this, is that they have an article of mine that I posted on an article site, and its on every single one of those pages. yahoo's site explorer has returned 700 results from this site, all which have my article and link to my site on each page.

and of course they have the little hidden text. Gonna have to do some research on the domain to find out who to talk to about removing my article. Any other suggestions?

11:05 pm on Dec 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What it goes to show is that maybe it was removed manually in the hope that you would move on to other things and now it is back ..as one would expect if it is making G money ..

G has the technology to find this stuff ..the fact that it remains or resurfaces is testimony not to "they cant" ..but to "they dont want to" ..and as far as they are concerned the market is now sufficiently locked off that they no longer need to pay anything other than lip service to the idea of consumer experience ..

( the surprising thing about the search survey satisfaction figures quoted elsewhere in a thread here is that even 10% were satisfied ..most say nothing and move on ..and dont respond to surveys )

G have constantly said that some things will get you penalties ..and gone from the index ..

..and then over the years we have seen that they dont seem to matter to some sites ( like ebay and the QS fiasco )..

so either G can spot this ..and dont apply penalties equally ....or they can spot these things ..and dont care depending on how it affects their bottom line ..or they apply semi random penalties ..to keep you on "the path of righteousness"..and simultaneously look for other SEO things that dont make them money ..and penalise you for them ..or tweak you to spend even more money just to stand still ..

and then they invented all their "tools" ..and everyone bought in ( like confession for catholics ) ..

for thousands of years religious organisations had the monopoly on the dissemination of information of all kinds ..and commerce ..and morals ..and they had their priests and their shills and their spys and their FUD and their punishements and their rewards ..to those who beleived ..or said they did ..and played the game ..

to someone who was jesuit educated ..the resemblances and the inconsistancies between the do what we say not as we do are striking ..and amusing ..

but the dishonesty is irritating ..

edited ..and just in case anyone should reply with but G aren't jesuits ..I wasnt suggesting that they were ..but the folks who are running the show since the IPO ( and it sure aint the twins ) know lots about history and psychology and motivations and rigging games and smoke and mirrors and confusing the marks ..and especially usefull fools and encouraging a group that thinks that they are privy to the workings of the endeavour ..nothing really wrong with that ..but some folks need to open more than just half of an eye ..and to watch the dealer just as carefully as the other players ..and to wonder about the hotel management of the room that they are playing in etc ..and the onlookers ..

( working with carnival / circus people opens ones eyes also ..about what is important to watch for in crowds ..or fora ..)

No one is neutral especially not those who say they are looking out for you and your experience or allowing you to let off steam or exchange ideas ..there is always an axe ..and there is always someone grinding it ..however quietly ..:)

follow the money is not always the best policy ..information and who is thinking what and trying and observing what ..and who is succeeding or failing ..and who they really are ..and how truly relevant thier words are ..is much more valuable to know ..

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:29 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2006]

12:32 am on Dec 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It is irritating to say the least. I am paying a lot of attention to the sites that I report for this particular topic and I am watching them closely.
2:48 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It seems that the sites reappear after data refreshes. They were penalized and removed from the index (More than likely manually by a google employee) but right after the data refreshes they seem to pop right back into the index again.

I have monitored a few sites like these over the past few months that seem to go in and out of the index.

3:02 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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i have also reported a few sites with google tools hoping that since i am not reporting anonymously that google would do something, but they do nothing. Even with obvious 302's, hidden text, mirror domains - its a shame. We go out on the limb to report these folks sometimes hoping that google doesnt bite us in the butt (instead), and google doesnt do anything at all - months have passed, even over a year. its discouraging really.
3:07 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Have the sites disappeared then just to reappear after a data refresh? I have been conversing with a few webmasters and we are starting to see this. This might explain some wild fluctuations that we see in the serps right after a data refresh.
7:33 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Seen this a million times, and it's turned up more than that in these forums.

My point is don't waste your time submitting sites to Google for the most part as they do not take the report seriously for a long period of time.

9:11 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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trinorthlighting - imagine just for a moment that the site in question changes the font colour of all those hidden text keywords so that they are no longer hidden. They would then be operating within Google's guidelines, right? And still ranking well according to your information.

OK, the site would be less aesthetic, but probably very few of its visitors actually scroll right to the foot of the page and go somewhere else because of those ugly keywords.

My point is that you would be better served directing your efforts to improving your own site and making it rank better, rather than bothering about what others do, because especially in the case of hidden text it is so easy to get that text back into the page in a legitimate way. As others have already pointed out, it's unlikely to be the main cause of the site's good ranking anyway.

1:11 pm on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Take a look at this Matt Cutts Post:

[mattcutts.com...]

These sites we are seeing reappear follow these steps matt himself outlines:

1. Spam
2. Get caught and dropped from the index

Then thats it, the sites do not do the following:

3. Fix the spam.
4. File a reinclusion request.
5. Possibly get reincluded in our index. You need to convince us that we won’t see any spam in the future.

Instead they showed back up in the index during a data refresh! Nothing fixed, no reinclusion request, nothing!

9:43 pm on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The sites have all been banned from google once again across all data centers! We will see how long the second time around penalty lasts!