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Obviously our first instinct is to hide the link in the mist of the color of the background. If we added a no-follow tag to that hidden link, would the SEs still penalize us for it?
My gut tells me yes, because they would still know there is some sort of text hidden there. Still, I thought I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
There MUST be better ways to do what you seek without having to 'get away with' anything.
If you choose to sail this close to the wind now, you may find yourself falling off when the next algo update appears.
Tell us the real problem, and I've no doubt someone will be able to suggest amuch better way forward.
But people click on anything, and we want to keep this hidden. New ideas we have:
Put it in a picture
Those both seem like pretty good options to me... Is one better than the other?
[edited by: PrattTA1 at 6:52 pm (utc) on July 9, 2007]
every time someone downloads the image, you'll know they have visited the page. and because images get cached (you'll have to check how your server is set up, because i think it's possible to set apache up to tell browsers not to cache images), it won't get downloaded on subsequent visits, which might pollute your data. and search engines don't download images either.
 actually, i've just re-read your post and don't think that will do. as i understand it, you want the link on the page, but you only want to make it 'visible' once somebody has already purchased something over the phone.
that seems a bit strange to me. if they have taken time out to telephone you to buy it, then just sell it to them like that and track them like that -- track your phone sales.
sending them back to the website again just to click on a previously invisible link just to aid your stats will seem like a waste of time to them.
you want to make it as easy as possible to buy something, otherwise they won't come back.
So ultimately, I come back to the same question - what is the best way to create an invisible link so that I can point it out to some customers, so that other non-customers will not accidentally click on it, and so that the search engines will not ding me for it, since it is not intended for them?
Anyway, you said
who CALL IN and place an order over the phone will be asked to click on
Then, an easy way would be to have a tiny form at the bottom of the page (text + button). Then, anyone placing an order over the phone will be given a password and ask to fill the form. They fill the form, submit it and it's done.
The other advantage of using form and password is that:
A/ You can change password everyday
B/ You can even have a password for phone order (phone_de5236de45), mail order (mail_de5236de45), email order (email_de5236de45) and track all this
at the only condition that your client will fill the form...
What will that tell you that your telephone operator cannot?
How is the 'hidden link' going to become visible to the buyer - or is it 'pin the tail on the donkey' -
"just go to http - that's http, not https forward slash. No, FORWARD slash - you know, that diagonal line from bottom left to top right. twice. Two slashes. - then www. - three w's - widget.com - forward slash - happy-customer, forward slash, you've got it! - finally.html Do you want to read that back to me? http//www.widget.com/happy-customer/finally.html Oh, yeah, there's a : after the http! Now, click about half an inch above the blue earing on the lady with the red polka dot bikini. No? up a bit? left a bit? double click? Just once! Oh, scrub that - you ordered a deluxe model? Click two inches below the knee of the man on the zebra. His left knee - the right knee isn't visible, is it ..."
Sorry to be so flippant - I couldn't resist it - but there just has to be a better way, probably involving your telephone people adding a wee note to the database.
But if you really are convinced there's no better way, nofollow will be absolutely fine; if you want insurance, you might make the page noindex, and add it to your robots.txt, but nofollow will do the trick.
Isn't this link an internal one, anyway?
[edited by: Quadrille at 1:04 pm (utc) on July 10, 2007]