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Is this hidden text or not?

     
4:28 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am getting my site redesigned, and I noticed he put in place an H1 tag which is not visible to the human eye.

When I asked him about this, one designer had this explanation

"The H1 is set to display about 5000px to the left of your monitor which simply means that it doesn’t appear on-screen unless you are using a screen reader or some other device that does not utilize the CSS. The H1 does appear in the code which you can see if you view the source. It is not hidden."

The second designer mentioned this:

"I can understand that you're concerned, however, I'm afraid you've misunderstood what ****** is suggesting. Using CSS, we can visually hide a word so that a background image may appear in its place, or so that its not presently visually appearing on the screen. However, this is not a wayward SEO tactic."

Please let me know some of your thoughts and if I am incorrect in thinking this is hidden text.

Thanks

5:54 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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On the face of it this seems bizarre!

The H1 is set to display about 5000px to the left of your monitor

For what reason?

The H1 does appear in the code which you can see if you view the source.

Not visble to the viewer but to the spider therefore IMHO(!) it is hidden. What's the difference between doing this "on page" with text the same colour as the background which is the usual meaning of hidden text.

Using CSS, we can visually hide a word so that a background image may appear in its place,

Again it's hidden, however the question has to be WHY are they proposing this?

How long have they been constructing web sites?

Someone enlighten me, I cannot forsee any advantage with doing it.

5:55 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This approach for screen readers has been a relatively common technique for a while, but strictly speaking it is hidden text. Still, many sites use it without any obvious problems.

I've asked several different Google people about it in past years, and the feedback I got was split. The one common factor was to represent only the exact text that appears in the background image - any fudging in that area can get a penalty, which I assume would come after a hand check.

The common reason for doing this is to make a more attractive display - use an image with some kind of beautiful but uncommon font. The same thing can be achieved with a Flash technique called sIFR (scalable Inman Flash Replacement) - and that approach gives you one installation that can work for every page on your entire site, rather than making a new image for every H1.

I consider sIFR to be much safer and more elegant than creating images of text. It's been used by several major websites, and the technology is both mature and free.

5:59 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Someone enlighten me, I cannot forsee any advantage with doing it.

In addition to the more attractive font for user, another idea is that true H1 text is more heavily weighted than an image of text would be, even when that text appears in an alt attribute.

7:32 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If a technique can be used for both accessibility (good) and spamming (evil), then how it is judged by Google would depend on the other aspects or characteristics of the site using it. If your site is already well-established or is an authority site, then this "gray area" technique is probably safe to use.
9:16 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In addition to the more attractive font for user

Aha...I understand now that you've explained it!

Fortunately I'm a website constructor, not a designer:-)

11:16 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your help guys, this makes me feel much better :)
11:55 pm on Feb 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If they're wrapping an H1 around your logo in the header - this is still not a good use of the H1 element. The H1 element should be unique and specific to each individual page.
1:57 am on Feb 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"which simply means that it doesn’t appear on-screen"

There's no question IMO they are using this for search engine manipulation and not for the visitor.

"The H1 is set to display about 5000px to the left of your monitor"

This is black hat thinking.

Tedster mentioned an uncommon use of this technique (which did not appear off screen), but it sounds like your SEO designer, at least the first one you quoted, is gaming the system.

It's hidden text.

 

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