SEO Mistakes: Nearly hidden text

If you’re going to hide text, doing “#EEEEEE” instead of solid white isn’t really an improvement. In fact, it can look worse, as if you’re trying to choose a text color that won’t be exactly the same as the background color, but still won’t be noticed. Check out this entertaining hidden text spam from a gift frame site. The interesting thing is that the phrases aren’t sorted alphabetically, but by keyphrase length. If you view-source, the net effect is some very artistic looking spam. I’ll abridge the number of phrases and just pull out a representative set:

home furnishing and decorating
wedding reception centerpieces
homemade christmas gift ideas
personalized christmas gifts
promotional business product
wedding reception decoration
personalized gifts for girls
custom promotional products
personalized picture frames
personalized picture frame
personalized wedding gifts
home made christmas gifts
personalized wedding gift
bridal shower gift ideas
discount picture frames
gifts for teenage girls
unique valentine gifts
unique gifts for women
valentines gift ideas
wedding picture frame
wholesale gift boxes
valentines gift idea
valentines day gifts
wedding centerpieces
unique wedding gifts
wedding centerpiece
cheap wedding gifts
wedding decorations
bridal shower ideas
unique wedding gift
bedroom decoration
dog picture frames
bridal shower idea
acrylic aquariums
wedding gift idea
small fish tanks
wedding pictures
engagement gifts
wedding presents
homemade crafts
gifts for women
gifts for girls
aquarium tanks
picture frames
gift for woman
simple crafts
gifts for her
western craft
angel crafts
cheap gifts
texas gifts
irish gifts
betta fish
fish tank
petlovers
shadowbox
petlover

Kinda pretty, huh?

91 Responses to SEO Mistakes: Nearly hidden text (Leave a comment)

  1. Hahaha, dare I search those terms on Google to see what website comes up? I really enjoy reading these “SEO Mistakes”.

    Though for the artistic aspect of the spam I would have written out “S P A M” using the keywords and a bunch of spaces/tabs, would have been a lot more amusing and colorful :D

  2. You probably can’t tell us, but is Google capable of detecting hidden text like that (where it is not exact color on color)? I know there are plenty of other ways of hiding text that would likely be more effective for spammers. Maybe it is not worth going after since spammers usually make their work identifiable in multiple ways.

    One of POPFile‘s developers did some investigating into odd ways browsers parse color codes since POPFile attempts to detect similar colors for hidden text in emails. There are pretty much unlimited ways of specifying the same color. Comparing the colors directly won’t do any good if spammers are smart, but if decoded color similarity can be checked for.

  3. Damn – if google’s filters are catching out this sort of stuff (text coloured slightly different to BG) then the black hat SEOs don’t stand a chance.

  4. They should’ve used green text and sorted in the reverse order to make it appear like a Christmas tree.

  5. haha…got to give it to spammers…they really love their spam. But for all the effort making these lists and so on, why not just make more legit pages ;-)

  6. Don’t forget that since Google is NOT using Meta Keywords – it is perfectly justifiable to do these “tricks”! – AS LONG AS THEY ARE RELEVANT KEYWORDS BEING USED

    Uhh, what? Since when?

  7. Matt

    S.E.W., I take it as a good sign that the site in question has already removed the hidden text and done a reinclusion request. You want your average website to know what needs to be corrected and how to ask for reinclusion when they run into a problem.

  8. Brad

    Artistic Spam?

    Matt. You need to get a girlfriend.

  9. —————————–
    Artistic Spam?

    Matt. You need to get a girlfriend.
    —————————–

    LOL!!!!!!

  10. benj

    Now, if only Google actually did anything about sites using this, and the more basic hidden text/keyword stuffing, when sites were reported.

    We’ve been reporting one site for 6 months, even specifying the Jagger update markers as Matt told everyone to here.

    Google does, well, nothing, about it – in fact, the site has been climbing steadily through Jagger updates. It now holds a number 4 position for a highly competitive key phrase.

    I guess Google now *rewards* artistic spam, eh? Cos it certainly doesn’t act on spam reports!

    (Come to think of it, Jagger seems to reward completely irrelevant AdSense laden article farms, too…. unless you’re nice and high profile like WordPress.org, where Google just cashes in on the publicity of penalising you.)

  11. lots0

    Then Matt said….
    >>>”You want your average website to know what needs to be corrected and how to ask for reinclusion when they run into a problem.”

    Glad to hear you say that Matt, too bad google waited a bunch of years before acquiring that attitude… But hey, better late than never.

    BTW – I do love you guys – Been working the last few days on handling a rather large amount of traffic from you all… :-)

  12. bulbarrian

    hey matt, why is nearly hidden text a SEO mistake? it still workes great…

  13. yo yo Matt…do a post on all these content scrapping sites…especially about just how much AdSense is responsible for them.

    Especially if you are posting all the time about spamming Google…it just doesn’t seem right that AdSense is the number one sponser for all these sites….

    So get those skeleton out of the closet and come clean ;-)

  14. Spider Ninja, that is a great point about Adsense. I wonder if Adsense was a bit more choosy about who they allow to advertise if the number of useless sites would drop since advertising revenue is the only point for most of those sites.

  15. benj & Spider Ninja comments above — you guys need to lighten up. Google is great, but maybe sometimes imperfect. So what? Be thankful (especially around Thanksgiving) they’re doing what they’re doing, and especially that Matt occasionally drops some hints about how it all works.

    I get annoyed about how my competition — personal injury and other lawyer websites — rank, but that’s just reason for me to do better, creating better content and letting others know I’m out there in the hope that they’ll link to my sites.

    A particular reason to be thankful. I did some lawyer ads on TV (not personal injury focused). Spent about as much a month as I spend now on AdWords, and it didn’t do squat for me. No matter how well you’re doing on the web, it’s a lot better ROI than other forms of marketing.

  16. Akerz

    tsk tsk, the site also has frames.

    funny, funny ha ha

  17. lots0

    Off topic –

    Hey Matt, you should think about starting a question and answer area, so people can ask you questions, instead of planting off topic questions all through your blog…

    And that reminds me;
    How can a normal average everyday webmaster tell if a site is in what google considers to be a “bad neighborhood”?

  18. hmm then what would you call this site: http://www.relianceindiacall.com/

    The footer area is hidden in IE but it shows in Opera and firefox.

    It is filled with keywords without any reason…

    The result: they are #1 using bad tactics..

    Reported to google couple of times…the outcome was bad..the site is on #1 from #6 lol

    Would love to see your comments on it.

    Thanks
    Deep

  19. Ha! Deep, that’s quite interesting. I’ve been using Reliance’s India calling service for a long time now and never noticed it. I now recollect that my bookmark was set to their US page which is free of spamlinks.

    Matt, Reliance is actually one of the biggest commercial house in India with multi billion ventures in areas ranging from petrochem to telecomm. I suspect they just hired one of those cheap SEO firms and really have no idea what those firms are doing to their homepages. I also think the SEO is right now doing trial and error coz they have some chinks exposed. Check that one of their links actually points to http://www.search-engine-ranking.indiafashion.com/ which has a testimonial by Reliance on its front page. It’s amazing that SEO firm itself is a farm of other similar cheapo techie/tacky sounding firms. Company which has all the three words, “cyber”, “web” and “global” have to beidiots of nth order.

  20. Harith

    Deep!

    In fact my good old still going strong Netscape 7.2 can also detect such keywords spam.

    Just hit: Edit—->Sellect All

    And there you see all the garbage spam.

    Conclusion: Never underestimate the anti-spam detection power of Netscape 7.2 :-)

    Recommendation to Google WebSpam Team: Its about time to use Netscape 7.2 in your daily work :-)

    Wish you all a great Sunday. Here where I´m, its very cold but sunny.

  21. Artistic Spam with apologies to Dr. Seuss….

    Can you hide it SEO?
    Can you hide it with Jav-0?
    Can you hide it from Matt Cutts?
    Or will he kick your dot com Nuttz?

  22. Hmmmm is it properly to use in title “SEO Mistakes”? I mean from your point of view is that SEO or spam? Just my .02 :)

  23. Canonical Update.

    Matt,
    I just filed 8 separate 302 hijack reports on our 2 websites per the instructions of your prior post. These were observed on 66.102.9.104.

    Also, relative to www versus non www 301 redirected pages on our website, I’ve observed on this same test site that search results appear to be going backwards! More and more non www pages are showing up in search results. Site counts (for non www pages) are increasing, with more non www pages appearing in caches dated later as well. Although all non www pages are being properly re-directed to www pages, the indexes are still showing these duplicate results.

    Is Google rolling back some of the Jagger3 updates and perhaps restoring some old indexes?

  24. Peter

    Matt,

    That is spam indeed, though seems to me more a matter of people that heard about SEO and never really understood it. I mean,… if just placing 100 keywords hidden in the page would actually get you high rankings, then google’s algorithms would be a sad excuse for a search engine.

    So I am kind of wondering why you´re showing these types of examples. It’s the oldest form of spam and doesn’t work, (or does it???)

    Can you show us some examples of scraper spam (that google can actually detect). I hate those scrapers…. they´re stealing your stuff and benefit from it because they´re also building more links then the sites they steal their content phrases from.

    And if you ask me it is easy to detect for Google because you guys record historical data. The oldest text should be the original.

    What is your (Google’s) definition of spam?

    Peter

  25. Aaron Pratt

    Peter,

    Yes I also think about why Matt is “showing these types of examples”. It is true, my SEO friend showed me several examples of people #1 in Google doing exactly what Matt describes above BUT it is most likely not what is making them #1 correct?

  26. Matt

    Peter, our definition of spam is on our quality guidelines pages. You’d be surprised at the number of people who (mistakenly) think that stuff like what I’ve been mentioning will help you. At the same time, hidden text is one of those things that Joe Average User can spot, and if they see hidden text, they get frustrated, even if the hidden text had nothing to do with them ranking highly. Part of what I’m trying to do is to get the word out to avoid this silly stuff.

    Google took a pretty good pass at scrapers this summer, and the feedback I heard at WMW was that scraping was unwelcome and more on people’s minds. I’ll certainly be recommending that folks at Google pay more attention to it.

  27. Hmm. If somebody creates a collection of artistic spam samples, will Google be clever enough NOT to consider the collection being spammy?

  28. Watch out Matt, now that you’ve published those keywords, your blog is about to be flooded with search referrals for furniture queries. Isn’t it? No?

  29. Matt

    Hopefully not, but we need a “noindex” tag to mark up sections of pages. I think the Google Search Appliance had that..

  30. I posted something on WW about a site that has hidden text and then talked to you at Pure @ Pubcon. I got the “honor” of writing in your notebook about the site and question and you were going to look into it. The site in question was removed from the Google index but came back after three weeks or so after removing the hidden text only on their home page, but they still have hidden text on many interior pages. These interior pages rank as a first page SERP for certain keywords.

    What these guys did was use the lightest shade of green available – so technically it’s not white on white but it is hidden text nonetheless. Check your notebook when you get a chance – as of now, these guys are still in the index. I may have to bug you in Chicago about this!

  31. Love the site!

    I’m very interested to hear your perspective on CSS image replacement techniques. Technically, an author would be purposefully hiding text (forbidden in the quality guidelines.) However, typically authors who follow CSS/”standards” debates are usually those people who are trying to build a better internet. I hope we aren’t shooting ourselves in the foot.

    In case someone isn’t aware, the image replacement involves some simple CSS to manipulate real, meaningful text (usually by offsetting it away from the viewable area) so that a decorative background image containing the same text can shine through. This is practiced to be beneficial to screen-readers, text browsers, printers, and (yes) search engines (none of which can understand phrases rendered in an image.) A fantastic example is the heading of the mozilla.org homepage.

    So, what do you think? Does this behavior raise a red flag?

  32. Peter, I think I can answer your question from a slightly different angle.

    I actually started a thread over at WebProWorld for users to show off what they think are the worst black hat SEO types. If you want, read it here:

    http://www.webproworld.com/viewtopic.php?t=56006&highlight=

    The reason I’m posting the link? Most of these guys aren’t banned, and quite a few of them still rank highly for various keywords and phrases in at least one of The Big 3.

    This isn’t a knock on the engines by the way: for every Matt a Google or Yahoo! or MSN hires, there are at least 500 scumbags trying every dirty trick under the sun to manipulate the SERPs in their favour.

    If anything, it’s a bit of a knock on us as users for not maintaining a certain vigilance. If we don’t tell the engines when we see spam that they missed, how else would they know and improve their algos to get rid of them en masse?

    Side note: I include myself in that group. I’ve let this kind of crap go on for far too long without saying anything, and over the last few weeks I’ve taken more action to report spammers so that they may be dealt with.

  33. Matt

    Byron, I’m still working off my WMW backlog, but I’m working my way through the notebook. Adam, thanks for mentioning that thread; I’ll check it out.

  34. adam

    Matt, id like to get an answer to this question i already asked once:
    is it ok to use css display:none on a block which contains no text, just a couple of 1 pixel images with alt=”” (empty)

  35. oSl0(?) said:

    Hey Matt, you should think about starting a question and answer area, so people can ask you questions, instead of planting off topic questions all through your blog…

    And that reminds me;
    How can a normal average everyday webmaster tell if a site is in what google considers to be a “bad neighborhood”?
    —————–
    Yes Yes Yes! Please!
    It must of been funny to see the artistic pattern, I can imagine you, sifting through all these sites, and codes and emails and crap, then coming across that with a cool pattern in it. It would have caught my eye and I would have posted about it. I think you were just showing an anomoly that has nothing to do with the actual spam tachnique – I don’t know why everyone else is jumping on it that way..

    I do have to say that it would be cool if we could relyon google to send us an email letting us know if there are problems.
    And I also aree with “Search Engines Web”
    I mean really, they could change thier color a little and it would just be words on the page, not spam right?

  36. Fred

    I realize that no questions are being answered here, but hopefully I’ll see an article on this???
    I have a 7 year old, 500 page website that has been highly ranked for years on Google. It’s a good website, with no ‘bad’ SEO tactics included.

    Last week the entire site mysteriously disappeared altogether from Google. A week old cache still remains, but the entire site is completely gone.

    I have filled out the “reinclusion request’, but it’s very frustrating as I have absolutely NO idea why this happened. None whatsoever. I did the entire site myself and am aware of what to do and what not to do. Of course, my income has been severly crippled because I no longer can be found on the #1 search engine.

    Even more frustrating is I do not know why and cannot not FIND OUT why! It’s like “big brother” is out there, and you must deal with the consequences – like it or not!

    Any suggestions? How can we find out what we did WRONG if we actually DID do something wrong? Maybe there’s a mistake… and how do we get it rectified?

    Thanks!

  37. Martin Ice

    Hey Matt,

    how is your cat going? Hope its going better.

    What about hidden text in noscript tags.

    I can show you a page in Germany which is first for the Keyphrase
    10m HDMI
    or
    10m DVI
    or
    10m SVHS

    NO Content. Absolute none. Only ebay and google ads.
    But in hidden text many many keywords. I thought that google would find something like that. and ban it from the serps. I made about 5 Spamreports. But the side went up from second place to first place.

    Is hidden keywordstuffing the new guidline to get up in serps?

    Maybe i will get an answer.

    Greetings from Germany.

    Martin Ice

  38. That is a really stupid SEO Mistake, also it is very fun to see what other webmasters do to improve their rankings! hahha

  39. Brandon

    Adam, I’d like to thank you for posting that thread. I registered to take a look at it, and sheesh … some of those sites are eye-opening to how blatant / awful things can get out there.

  40. Matt can you give us the status on the current update. I don’t know If I can still call it Jagger or if we are seeing something new?

  41. Hey Matt, here’s a hot tip for fighting spam…look at the number of times a word is highlighted in the SE results…the more times highlighted, the more probably the results are spammy/no good

  42. Roms GBA

    I agree with you Chung, hat is a really stupid SEO Mistake…

  43. Mike

    thanks Matt,

    how about people using home page text to improve indexing?
    When it comes to very large sites, indexing can be a major headache.

    Could you please give some tips on how to improve indexing? Why are so many pages badly indexed and what causes them to go to the supplemental results?

    thanks again…

  44. You’re welcome, Brandon. And thanks for checking it out, Matt.

    Pretty bad, eh? There are some real beauties in there (although no one’s touched my gopro.ca crosslinking example.)

    It’s fascinating not just to see what people will come up with, but what will actually work. Some of the stuff is pretty amateurish, but in some cases it gets them to the promised land.

    Again, I don’t blame any SE. I used to until I realized that the employees are outnumbered by the spammers, and with the sheer number of techniques out there they have to deal with, it’s a tough fight. So the odd amateur attempt will work in the short run.

  45. Martin Ice

    Hi Matt,

    short complain.
    You ask us for fill out the spam reports in order to improve the results.
    I think u got a whole bunch of support from us. But when ever we ask u to have a look at a certain side, no answer at all. I know u have a lot to do, but some little answer would be nice.

    Thanx in advance,

    Martin

  46. How would you get an answer back, Martin Ice? There’s nowhere on the spam form to get that.

    And if they spent time answering back, then that’s time taken away from them getting rid of stuff. Personally, I’d rather see them invest their energies getting rid of it than in giving us a response.

    Deep: I see pretty well all of the text (I’m not sure about the invisible part), but this code snippet from that page is amusing:

    Calling
    Cards

    I guess calling cards are all the India fashion this year. I’m gonna get one for my girlfriend to go with her new boots!

  47. Byron said:
    What these guys did was use the lightest shade of green available – so technically it’s not white on white but it is hidden text nonetheless. Check your notebook when you get a chance – as of now, these guys are still in the index.
    ———————

    This reminds me of my first web site. I had designed it on an NEC multisync monitor, a friend of mine who was quite good at web site tech told me that the colors blended together too much, maybe I should change them. Well just figured he is a tech guy, and I love colors so I am gonna just keep taking his tech advice and keep the color scheme I had.
    He mentioned it again and I forgot about it (wasn’t listening maybe ;)
    Thenone day I brought up my old site on a friend’s laptop and I could hardly read it, then we tried his desktop, and as to where it was better, it was nothing like what I had designed, and nothing like it looked on my screen at home. So I changed it around, and now I have to remember that not all screns are the same.
    Would be a shame to blacklist people that just have old monitors or just don’t know about usable color schemes..

    2 cents 4 ya,
    Ashley

  48. Matt

    Fred, you didn’t mention a url, so I can’t really give you much advice. If a site is old but has spam (e.g. hidden text), it can be removed from Google. I’d take a fresh look at the site, make sure your server uptime is good, and do a reinclusion request as well. If you search for [matt cutts reinclusion request] you’ll find my post with advice.

  49. Did file a reinclusion request, but have no idea what was “wrong” in order to get removed completely!

  50. Robert Burns

    Hi Matt,

    I was wondering if in theory, you could get penalized for listing this string of key phrases on your blog?

    Just a thought.

  51. Is Google going to do a new Dance?

    By
    :-)

  52. Roy

    I just found a website that is doing very well in Google has hidden “black text and links” on a black backgound. This website is hurting a client of mine that has a “clean” site and uses no tricks.

    How/Where can I report the website that is using the hidden text and links?

  53. Matt,

    Thanks for the insights. In case you have a moment to answer… I have a client who has a multilingual web site. The multilingual features are enabled via client-side JavaScript. It works by hiding most text and displaying only text appropriate for the language of the visitor. What are the chances google will mistake this for spam?

    Thanks in advance.

  54. Hi Adam,
    The text is insible in IE, you have to use scrollbar button to view the text. (they have disabled scrollbars on that page)

    I was expecting an answer from Matt regarding his views on it but I think it might be overlooked.

    I am quoting the same question again:

    ——————————————
    hmm then what would you call this site: http://www.relianceindiacall.com/

    The footer area is hidden in IE but it shows in Opera and firefox.

    It is filled with keywords without any reason…

    The result: they are #1 using bad tactics..

    Reported to google couple of times…the outcome was bad..the site is on #1 from #6 lol

    Would love to see your comments on it.

    Thanks
    Deep
    ——————————————

    I hope to get some comment this time :)

    Regards,
    Deep

  55. Michael D

    [quote]benj Said,

    November 26, 2005 @ 6:37 pm

    Now, if only Google actually did anything about sites using this, and the more basic hidden text/keyword stuffing, when sites were reported.

    We’ve been reporting one site for 6 months, even specifying the Jagger update markers as Matt told everyone to here.[/quote]

    instead of reporting the site why dont you just get on with making your own site better

  56. joschka

    “If you’re going to hide text, doing “#EEEEEE” instead of solid white isn’t really an improvement. ”
    What about this improvement “#fd038″
    like this guy http://www.ihrflug.de/

  57. faglork

    I have a solution for this: Just DON’T make the spam invisible, put it right out in the open. Why bother to hide it? Result? #1 at Google. Well done:

    http://www.google.de/search?hl=de&q=tagungshotel+wlan

    #1 sports 1300 (!!!!!) lines of open,visible, right-in-the-face keyword stuffing. Is this Guiness book of records or what?

  58. Cristian Secară

    Actually, there IS a situation where I need hidden text.

    I have a site written in Romanian language. The text is written using Romanian specific characters. This is mandatory.
    Usually, when searching the web, Romanian computer users are using non-accented characters (pure ASCII). This way the searched text is different than tha actual text in my pages.

    It is true that, at some extent, Google (at least) makes some regional language-related equivalences; however, the result is not 100% equal (i.e. searching something with true Romanian words vs. ASCII words gives slightly-to-completely different result).

    Therefore, I have put small white-on-white titles (~5-8 words) with a few “keywords” (like my name) written without true Romanian characters (without diacritics). So far so good – my site has not been banned, yet :) (done for about 3 years by now …)

    Cristi

  59. In the time it took to arrange those, they could have written a dynamite article!

  60. How long does it take for Google to get reported spam out of your search results? I got so fed up with all the spam while searching for vinyl auto wraps for my car that I just had to report them. Now, almost 2months later, I still have no auto wrap but the worst spammer still has the number one ranking.

  61. Sekula

    There is a lot of talk aboug css-hidden text.

    But why isn’t google using XSL templates to transofrm XML files in HTML in the same way browsers do ? There is a lot of space for spamers to use xml/xsl to show one data to googlebot and another to web site users?

  62. I wish I had found this blog a long time ago!

    Related to this subject are there any guidelines for using text links over background images? For example, white text links over a dark background image? The resulting links will be perfectly visible if the browser has background images enabled but would be invisible if background images were turned off?

    I guess a simple answer such as “Google can emulate the human eye and if it is readable by the average person Google does not treat it as hidden text spamming” will be comforting but maybe technology is not so advanced.

  63. MisterDude

    I have a page with cloaked content … and … if you watch the spammy area carefully and long enough you’ll see a cute bunny … and … if you stare even more … it might do some tricks !

    I have a question , rather lame , but still curious about it . How is Googlebot following the robots.txt file ? If I disallow access to *.css and I use styles to hide in the CSS is it possible for ggbot to reach it ? Or any disallowed files . I think if you reach them , you would be breaking your own policy , or , maybe you use a different UA .

    Last but not least good luck in providing some quality in results on long term (you have no chance o short term) but , if I were you , I would automatically penalize all sites with too high keyword density . This is common sense and many (good) changes would be noticed .

  64. Mike

    So is there a downside to those of us that have stylesheets that do something like replace a H1 tag’s text with an image and set the internal SPAN holding the text to ‘display: none’? Will this kind of legit use hurt a site? It doesn’t seem any worse than using the alt or title attributes and it does make it quite a bit easier to adjust a site’s look with stylesheets while still leaving it accessable to text browsers.

  65. At the very least he should have used white text on white background image on black background ;-) …Ah, the easy days.

  66. I am still really confused as to the hidden text and what is definitly NOT allowed and what can pass with the trick of not using exactly white on white or black on black. Here is a site that hides text and they are also a directory and could be jeopardizing the members also if they get banned.
    http://www.partypixies.com/
    These sites are also practicing this technique and are part of this party directory. Can you please explain how they are getting away with this. I have reported them to google many times.
    http://www.fancythatparties.com/
    http://www.teacakesandteddybears.com/

    How can I report them and have someone really take some action.

    Thank You!

    Lynn Forristall

  67. Mike

    You can go to google and report them.

  68. Hi Matt,

    Ty for the info. Hidden text is becoming increasingly a grey area. For example the Gilder/Levin Method of Text replacement by image could be considered as being hidden text. where the h1 doesnt display but the background-image has the same text displayed in grpahical format. If you turn images off no text in the tag is visible which I feel is spam. In fact I see Image Replacement methods as being spam across the board.

    You got any Google perspective you would like to share.

    TY
    Michael

  69. That really is some pretty spam. :) I wonder why they bothered to put it in length order anyway? I find that a little odd since it was never meant to be seen in the first place. Oh well.

    Paul

  70. Sam

    Hi Matt,

    I had reported a site (greaterbangalore [dot] com ) using hidden and stuffed texts in their pages. But I am still seeing the same site sitting very pretty in Google’s Index.

    Do Google really take into consideration these spam reports?

  71. I’m not an SEO specialist, but my mainline business website still seems to dominate the search listings. For an example, a search for “estate liquidation” in Google with no other modifiers brings up “Graceful Exits” in 4th and 7th place (as of today, anyway). Adding the modifier “San Francisco” (our service area), and we’re listed as numbers 3,7,9,10, and 17. Search words such as “estate liquidators” or “senior relocation” give similar results. In other words, our website, http://www.graceful-exits.com, pretty much lords over our competition in the search engines. So how did we get there? Mainly through helpful content, sensible keywords, and listings in appropriate directories. All the things you professional SEOs advise, and for which I thank you.

    -Pete Childress
    peterjc@ourweb.com

  72. Matt, are you saying that Googlebot can find out when text isn’t readable for human eye? I find that hard to believe.

    Quick check of my access log reveals that Googlebot doesn’t check my external CSS files. Even if it did, I don’t think it could check if the text is readable or not on a background image. That would be very difficult, wouldn’t it?

    To make myself clear: I hate this technique. But I wouldn’t say it’s bad SEO in the sense it’s not working. It is working.

    I have a question, though. I hate how SE optimalized text looks, especially when there’s em or strong tag on every keyword. So I make em tag blend in with the normal text. Is that black hat?

  73. haha…It is amusing spam.
    I wonder whether a bit of the hide text which annotate the code of programme is worse to my website.

  74. HiddenTextFinder

    With all do respect, Google doesn’t penalize or demote websites that have hidden text. I’ve been monitoring and reporting a site for months and no change recourse has been taken.

    So, as far as I am concerned, hidden text apparently works in this major SE.

  75. Gimini

    Hi Matt,

    I know this will sound annoying for you and I know that this post shouldn’t be used to report websites with bad behaviour, but I noticed that reports coming from small markets such as Romania are almost always ignored. Why!? Google should hire no more than 2 guys for a quality check on Romanian websites, and with 3000 euros / month this should be enough to deal with spam reports coming from Romania. Initialy I wanted to report here a spamming website, but I am too frustrated as I am 99,99% certain that your engineers will not take any measure against it. Problem is that these ignored local spamming websites / domains became more and more aged, thus more “cemented” in Google’s algorithm, and fake SEOers will think that it’s easy to trick Google and then they would offer their services to USA clients and your anti-spam engineers will have more to work there, in USA. To prevent is more safely than to combat, don’t you think?

  76. The use of nearly visible text on a website would cheapen the appearence of the site and drive visitors away.

  77. Hi Matt,

    Correct me if i m wrong, i think Google take long time or never banned or penalize a website that use small fonts near to invisible to human or text with background color. Some websites made CSS that show big font to search engine but in actual that fonts are hidden to human eyes. Please clear this.

    Regards,
    BHAVESH GOSWAMI,
    http://seofuture.blogspot.com

  78. Emre

    Hidden text is still almost a regular practice for some webmasters. Especially in my country, Turkey. These webmasters do it for a good reason though: You can spam with literally any method and get away with it. These codes go unnoticed by Google. I don’t understand why Google should index text of 1 pixel, and send visitors to that spammed page just because that 1-px keyword is there. This is 2007 not 1998. Consider this : http://www.modernperdesistemleri.com/resim_galerisi.htm
    This site, while unbelievable, ranks #1 for a rather competetive keyword.

    Reporting cheaters is the only way left but these reports are never reviewed, at least in last 2 years. Never heard any Turkish site got punished that way either.

  79. Maketso

    Matt,

    I advise my clients to steer well clear of hiding text & links. But, I have a question for you that focuses on partially minimized text.

    Due to having several product images on each of my client’s web pages, there is only minimal area for text. I want to associate unique text for the products being shown on each page. I would like to make a small portion of text visible via a link…the rest of the text dynamically expands downward when the site visitor clicks the link to reveal the complete passage.

    We are truly looking at this as a way to minimize clutter on the pages…and, make the bulk of the text available with a simple click (think of this as a “Show” or “Hide” type of selection immediately following some initial text associated with the on-page products).

    From one search industry guru, I read that it is OK to do this since I’m not trying to hide text. Another SEO analyst indicates this would be considered spamming.

    Would this be considered by Google to be spamming or not?

    Thank you

  80. Stepping away from our usual disapproval of spamming and black hat SEO, hats off to the guy who built the site. Show some imaginaion

  81. How come this hidden text cheating method is not screened and penalized by Google? If correct webmasters follow the guidelines and perform worse because of such cheaters – I think google should track down the gamblers and do something about it. In 2008 one would think this is the norm…

  82. Hi Matt,
    I was wondering if on the matter of CSS-hidden text and specially either text-indent or pos:absolute with left-999em (re: http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200510/google_seo_and_using_css_to_hide_text/)
    you would have more up to date news about Google considering it as spam or not? (this discussion was in 2005 after all)
    Same issue here: I have skip links, plus hx’s (headers that are not in the initial visual layout of the page but need to be there for screen-readers and non-CSS visitors and also for my document to be well formed -no point having h2′s or h3′ if there is no h1 etc.) and ‘back to top’ links not visible by most visitors but there for Jaws, WAP users etc.

    thank you very much to enlighten us.

    Arnaud

  83. Matt,

    I know this is a very old post, but I have a question about this topic that I think might be of benefit to other people as well as to me.

    On the top of each page on this site, is a three word title. It is written in white text. Right behind it, but offset by perhaps 1/8 of a character width is the same text in black. This has a nice visual effect, creating a “shadow-like” look on the text.

    Would the text in black be considered hidden, since only about 1/8th of each character actually shows? If this would be considered “hiding” could you consider changing the google algorithm, since text that is done this way is clearly not set up for the purposes of “hiding” anything from the users, but instead intended to enhance the user’s viewing experience.

  84. markcijo

    Hi Matt,
    I am gona digg this post again. Excuse me !!!

    I was just wondering what if I use Display= none in a case like http://www.weblinx.biz

    They have written the script wisely and have hided the text that comes after a click. I would like to use the same for my website. I believe there is no issues if I do it like this. They are trying to hide the text for a click to save the space and add some effects.
    What do u say.
    Is that good method.. I mean a white hat technic?

    This is more interesting to me:

    cstring = ‘newresourceextranoted’; cdisplay = cstring.substring(16,17) +

    cstring.substring(17,18) + cstring.substring(0,1) + cstring.substring(19,20) ;

    Very logical !! lol

    Matt I am sorry, I don’t know which of my comment you will see.. This is very urjent to me as I need to go ahead with my site development.. Sorry to post the same issue again.. But I am looking for your answer..

  85. esmudo

    Hi,
    i need urgently to clarify the next with my programmer:

    He´s using in my site´s CSS (display: none, visibility: hidden) for keywords which its font-size are less than one pixel. I want to remove this but he insists that if it is less than a pixel there´s no problem …

    What can I do to make me understand? How can i prove he´s wrong?
    Could you help me? I don´t know what tell him when he says me I´m wrong…

  86. Im curious does google actually ignore text that is the same color as the back ground?

  87. I want to ask if white text and black background color theme would have any effect on SEO? many people use black text and black background.. so does it really matter?

  88. Just a new way to spam :) As the technology and algorithm improves, so does the act of spamming.

  89. I guess, but why would anyone use EEEEEE?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

If you have a question about your site specifically or a general question about search, your best bet is to post in our Webmaster Help Forum linked from http://google.com/webmasters

If you comment, please use your personal name, not your business name. Business names can sound salesy or spammy, and I would like to try people leaving their actual name instead.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

css.php