Title: Can Invisible Text in CSSs Slip Under Search Engine Radar?
Author: Lawrence Deon
Word count: 827 - 65 characters per line
Contact e-mail: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Categories: SE Tactics, SEO, Business, Internet
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Can Invisible Text in CSSs Slip Under Search Engine Radar?
by Lawrence Deon
Iím literally inundated with questions on the subject of invisible
text & hosting so I thought Iíd debunk some myths and give you the
facts straight up.
What is invisible text? Invisible text is the body text thatís
the same or similar color to the background. You know, the stuff
you can very easily see on a page if you press Ctrl-A or highlight
everything on the page with your left mouse button.
Will invisible text hurt your search engine rankings? Undoubtedly!
If you attempt to use the same color text as the background color
of your web pages the search engines will penalize you.
Why? The use of invisible text is commonly considered black hat
seo by the search engines and a blatant spam tactic. If your
visitors canít see or read the text then what good is it anyway?
Itís deceptive period.
Trust Google when they say in their Quality Guidelines & Specific
recommendations to avoid hidden text or hidden links.
Now hereís why this topic is so interesting... and I know youíre
saying, why should I worry or care about invisible text if Iíve
never used any on my web site? Well the answer is simple.
You may be hosting invisible text on your website right now & not
even know it. In fact you were never intended to know it...
That's why it's invisible!
WHAT? Yeah... you may be getting duped!
So just what exactly am I talking about? Iím talking about your
hosting company (usually the free ones) leeching your Google
PageRank & building link popularity for their clients off your
web pages & bandwidth. If you donít think they do it... guess
again. Itís a lucrative business.
Now with that said Iím not going to name or badmouth any specific
hosting service. What I am going to do is tell you how to determine
if youíre an unsuspecting victim.
Hereís an invaluable tool to help you detect search engine spam
Secondly, double-check your cached pages to see what the search
engine robots actually see when they index your page. Look for
additional links & advertising in the source code that isnít in
your original source code.
If you find additional advertising or links that arenít on your
current pages... your host MAY be killing your search engine
rankings. The simple solution to this problem is to immediately
transfer your domain to a trusted service provider.
Now let's talk about the invisible text you can't see at all on a
page. Yes, you could still be hosting invisible text. Even if you
press Ctrl-A or highlight everything on the page with your left
mouse button & nothing shows up!
Just for the record you'll find some content management programs
employing this very technique. Imagine my surprise when I
discovered my PageRank 5 realty site had two sets of Meta keywords
on my pages, easily seen when I view Google's cached versions....
I was choked... especially since their user agreement didn't
disclose this fact!
Is using invisible text in cascading style sheets good? Nope!
Thereís a new school of thought claiming you can use an alternative
cascading style sheet (CSS) approach to placing invisible text on
your web pages without penalty.
The theory is predicated on the premise that you could employ an
external style sheet in another directory. There youí d simply
define a special class for a tag like < P > where the font and
background colors are identical.
The claim is thereís no way for the current search engines
algorithms to distinguish the color codes and penalize you. While
this may or may not be the immediate situation itís fundamentally
Invisible text is invisible text & it's spam.
Since many invisible text tricks utilize CSS positioning properties
to hide their contents, youíll soon see (if not already) the search
engines employing advanced algorithms to find hidden text in CSSs.
If you subscribe to the CSS theory youíll undoubtedly be revisiting
your strategy or paying later by being blacklisted or removed
entirely from the various search engine indexes.
Incidentally, before you roll the dice on this one you might want
to consider the fact that the tool I just referred you to is only
the beta version and the developer is already planning to add
support for identifying invisible text in CSSs! Just how much
more advanced and further ahead do you think the search engine
So what does it all mean to you & what should you do?
1. Check your cached pages for invisible text.
2. If you find Invisible text or advertising determine it's origin
3. Read every user agreement very carefully
4. Take action & do something about removing it!
The bottom line lesson here is simple. Trying fool the search
engines with Spammy tricks or hocus pocus schemes has never
worked for long in the past. Don't employ unethical spam
techniques and don't become an unsuspecting victim yourself.
Copyright 2005 Lawrence Deon
About the author: Lawrence Deon is an SEO/SEM Consultant and
Author of the popular search engine optimization and marketing
model Ranking Your Way To The Bank.
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