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Blackhat or simply good HTML ?

Never seen this before

   
5:33 am on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I noticed a site suddenly appear at #1 a few days ago in my industry - literally from nowhere. Looking a little closer at the source, they're using a very interesting layout.

There is a huge amount of keyword rich text in the source code, but I can't actually see it anywhere on the page in my browser. Searching for it returns no results either, so it's not the white on white trick.

Anyone know if a layout like this is good or bad:


<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
<title>
<meta name="keywords" content=""/>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8"/>
<meta name="robots" content="Index, Follow"/>
<meta name="GOOGLEBOT" content="Index, Follow"/>
<link href="/css/default.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>
<style type="text/css"> ton of css here
</style><script type="text/javascript"</script>
</head>
<body>
<div id="popBox" class="popBox"><p> HUGE amount of keyword-rich text which isn't visible on the homepage here
<a class="popBox_close" href="#"></a></div>
Usual content here
</script>
</body>
</html>
7:28 am on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



:: peering into crystal ball ::

#popBox {display: none;}

So you're asking whether it's good or bad for the googlebot to see a bunch of text that ordinary humans can't see?

Hmm. That's a tough one.
7:33 am on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



lucy24, if the keywords aren't repetitive or spammy, but just part of a natural text in a help pop up, that may not be negative. At best I would say neutral.
10:53 am on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member penders is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Searching for it returns no results either, so it's not the white on white trick.


Search in-page I assume? If you search Google for a snippet of that text, does Google find it? ie. Has Google actually indexed that text? (Just curious.)

It is quite legitimate for websites to have have hidden elements that are later made visible because of some user action. This is fairly common practise, so it wouldn't necessarily make sense for search engines to penalise this without further inspection. By the nature of the markup this does look like some kind of popup, as @koan suggests. Can you see any way to make this text pop-up? Does the content inside this element make sense? Is it visible if you disable JavaScript?

However, if it is permanently hidden from the user and possibly spammy and hence purely for SEO then it is possibly blackhat and they are treading a very fine.
12:43 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)



No matter if that content can be seen with some user action taking place, a would not risk with hidden content without a good reason. It is probably Blackhat.
1:17 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Ha! Not quite Lucy. Perhaps my initial question was badly phrased.

penders,

Yes, searching in-page. There's a good 1,000 or so words. The content has been indexed by Google, but there's no popup anywhere to be found and the text simply does not exist to the human eye on any page.
2:10 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



I've seen similiar things twice in the last cuople of days. Buying some cold weather sleeping bags, the user reviews and specs are loaded on the detail page, but not visible until you click on the tab 'user reviews'. That seems fair enough.

I also noticed that I got a backlink from world news on a video page. I can see it when I view the code, but I can't find where to click on the page to actually view my link. Perhaps if I could find the way to make the link visible it would make sense, but darned if I can.

In the end, if the content is visible based on additional user interaction (like a help box) I believe that's considered fair play by Google (just based on what I've read in the past). If it's not intended for the visitor to see, then it's cloaking.

I don't expect in either case that a bit of extra content is likely the key to top rankings on competitive terms.
6:18 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



Look at the selector name . . .

<div id="popBox" class="popBox">

which is supplemented by the following line,

<a class="popBox_close" href="#"></a></div>

It appears it's a pop up help, probably opened by the overdone "lightbox effect" which is why you can't see it on the page. (?) Can you make it appear via any of the help or supplemental links?

I still think it's dangerous, had a site page that I tried this on the and the plummet to page three was both swift and merciless. :-)
6:28 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



When you land on the page, there is no popup. Nor is there any way to select a popup to view the content it contains. "popBox" simply doesn't exist except in the HTML!

Surely that is a deliberate attempt to game the search engines?
6:34 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)



JackR, is the 1,000 or so words nothing but keywords or is it a composed paragraph or so for human readers?
6:42 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



It's a neatly composed and keyword rich, paragraphed piece of Google fluff :)
7:32 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)



ha, thanks for posting.
8:29 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



It's probably just drall [webmasterworld.com] trying to get at your money ;-)
8:39 pm on Nov 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Haha! Now we all know his little secret. It's an interesting tactic with pretty amazing looking code.

CSS on the index page isn't exactly the norm, right? That's the whole point of an external style sheet.
12:35 am on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



CSS on the index page isn't exactly the norm, right?

Funny you should say that. My style sheets are different for each directory, so the front page really does have its own CSS. There's nothing to share with.

Incidentally, as a user it drives me up the wall when I search for something, find a promising page in g### -- and then the searched-for text is nowhere to be found, not even in the page source. Sometimes it shows up in an archived copy. But it hardly ever leads me to say "Well, as long as I'm here..." (This is ::cough, cough:: not a specific reference to Jack's site ;))
12:47 am on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Haha!

It does seem that more and more sites are attempting to add text with no visibility to their pages. Sadly, it seems to be working very well for those that choose these methods.

At least for now.
1:54 am on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Incidentally, as a user it drives me up the wall when I search for something, find a promising page in g### -- and then the searched-for text is nowhere to be found, not even in the page source. Sometimes it shows up in an archived copy. But it hardly ever leads me to say "Well, as long as I'm here..."


That's because Google in it's infinite wisdom decided that you weren't really looking for one or more of the words that you typed and that the results served up had more relevance to what they think you are looking for. Then they decided to change the + option (see [webmasterworld.com...] e.g. +word that meant you REALLY did want that word in the results, now you have to put quotes around the word to achieve that instead. So now when you search and you do want ALL of the words in the results, you have to type "word1" "word2" etc.
11:15 am on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member penders is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



@Dijkgraaf Thanks for the info (and link) on Google's + / "..." change - I'd missed that!

It does seem that more and more sites are attempting to add text with no visibility to their pages. Sadly, it seems to be working very well for those that choose these methods.


Also remember, however, that good long term ranking is also dependent largely on inbound links, particularly for pages in a competitive market. Having a lot of hidden text that no-one gets to see is not going to help this. Google might give a boost to new sites posting lots of keyword rich content(?), but unless they can follow this up with some inbound link popularity then they are not necessarily going to stay at #1 for very long (in my opinion).
9:29 pm on Nov 3, 2011 (gmt 0)



hi,
right from the inception of google, it has said that its prime motive is to serve the users what they wanted exactly and appropriately. If someone is serving to bots something else and to its users some other things it can not be anything other than misleading the Search engine BOT. This is what specially google does not like and has said in many interviews that it will not be tolerated anyhow. It has given the term BLACK HAT.

The google spam team is smart enough to detect these kind of things and they will detect it sometime. After so many updates google has shown the world that it can do that very well. Hidden text in no way useful for anyone so it is really not the legitimate practice to come up in SERP.

regards
zabalex
9:58 pm on Nov 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



Days later, it occurs to me:

Look at the selector name . . .

<div id="popBox" class="popBox">

which is supplemented by the following line,

<a class="popBox_close" href="#"></a></div>

It appears it's a pop up help


Fooled us, didn't it? Could be intended to fool the search-engine robots, too.

Never mind about the HTML: does either the class or the id "popBox" appear anywhere in the CSS, either for this page or shared? (Or javascript-generated, or tucked away in a php include, or...) Seems like it would have to be defined somewhere-- though possibly with something more devious than {display: none;}-- otherwise it would default to perfectly normal, human-visible text.
10:15 pm on Nov 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Here's the css part:


.popBox{background-color:#000;border:1px solid #92217d;}

.popBox, .dialogBox{display:none;position:fixed;z-index:990000;overflow:auto;top:100px;left:50%;width:760px;height:500px;margin-left:-400px;padding:20px;background-position:0 0;color:#fff;text-align:center;border:1px solid #fff;}

.popBox_close{position:absolute;top:5px;right:5px;width:80px;height:10px;z-index:20001;display:block;background:url(http://cdn1.example.co.uk/interface/popClose.gif) top left no-repeat;}

[edited by: eelixduppy at 12:56 am (utc) on Nov 4, 2011]
[edit reason] exemplified [/edit]

 

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