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Is this technique illegal?

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by TopSpin, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. #1
    While doing SEO work for a few of our clients - we ran across a 'competitor' who seems to be doing great in Google BUT (I believe) what they are doing is probably illegal. On their home pages (and other pages throughout the sites they build) you cannot see ANY links to other websites they built or are promoting, and yet... when you look at their source code, you see this:


    <p class="hidden">
    <a href="http://www.creativearc.com/" style="display: none;">Minneapolis Web Design</a>
    <a href="http://www.creativearc.com/indianapolis.php" style="display: none;">Indianapolis Web Design</a>
    <a href="http://www.montanalegend.com/" style="display: none;">angus beef</a>
    <a href="http://www.montanalegend.com/natural/" style="display: none;">natural beef</a>
    <a href="http://www.montanalegend.com/artisan/" style="display: none;">prime beef</a>
    <a href="http://www.montanalegend.com/dryaged/" style="display: none;">dry aged</a>
    <a href="http://www.armchairinterviews.com/past-guests/audio/" style="display: none;">author interviews</a>
    </p>

    The list is (of course) much longer.... but I'm wondering how they are getting away with this technique???

    An example can be found at This Site

    Any thoughts or ideas are appreciated.
    SEMrush
    Thanks in advance!!
     
    TopSpin, Apr 28, 2008 IP
    SEMrush
  2. roger_inkart

    roger_inkart Peon

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    #2
    Hmmm...curious. I don't know about it being illegal per se, but it's certainly a questionable practice.

    I wonder how the Googlebot sees those links and if it can sniff out that they aren't visible on the page.
     
    roger_inkart, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  3. Boris4ka

    Boris4ka Well-Known Member

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    #3
    It's not illegal but I believe it is against Google's TOS. You might be able to get that site de-indexed.
     
    Boris4ka, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  4. TopSpin

    TopSpin Peon

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    #4
    ..and how would one go about doing that??

    (it seems like Googlebot is seeing those links because it's using a class to mark the .html as invisible vs. commenting them out... but I'm not certain)

    Thanks for the quick replies
     
    TopSpin, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  5. lurkster

    lurkster Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Illegal? I don't know about that. More along the lines of hidden links and shady techniques to get pages indexed and pass link popularity.

    All they're doing is using CSS to 'hide' the content. First indication <p class="hidden"> and the style="display: none;"

    Just look at the style sheet and see what they're doing.
     
    lurkster, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  6. CharlesLN

    CharlesLN Peon

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    #6
    Oh definitely turn them in to Google. That is an example of both sloppy and lazy SEO.
     
    CharlesLN, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  7. PHPGator

    PHPGator Moderator Staff

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    #7
    Google reads those links so they really are not getting away with it. They read source code basically. In fact, I am surprised Google has not penalized them for it already.

    All they are doing is just moving the content over off the screen from regular browsers. I've seen this practice used so that you can get your most sought after keyphrases in <h1> tags.

    Check this out, it might be of some help on what the Search Engines look at: http://www.kenkai.com/seo-tools-search-engine-view-simulator.php
     
    PHPGator, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  8. campolar

    campolar Peon

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    #8
    I believe its not illegal or against Google's TOS. All their doing is adding hidden backlinks to other websites.
     
    campolar, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  9. tribulus

    tribulus Peon

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    #9
    Imagine if they had all those links listed and viewable at the end of their page. It would look like sh*t.
    On the other hand, Google usually frowns on hidden text.
     
    tribulus, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  10. TopSpin

    TopSpin Peon

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    #10
    Thanks PHPGator - I'll definitely check that out.

    Thanks for everyone else's take on the situation. It's definitely not a technique I would ever use and I agree with the Lazy SEO comment - it just seems to be working 'too well' for them and I was wondering why they aren't being penalized for their shady practices. But, if it's not really illegal and it's simply another method for providing back links, why isn't this practice more common???

    ~Topspin
     
    TopSpin, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  11. Zafar Ahmed

    Zafar Ahmed Active Member

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    #11
    But why? Why is the question here? if they are not visible, why are they hidden? remember it's "hidden" so that means it is for the purpose of increasing those outbound links PR, this is like a black hat method.
     
    Zafar Ahmed, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  12. angilina

    angilina Notable Member

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    #12
    I think Google don't like hidden things :)
     
    angilina, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  13. budhanes

    budhanes Peon

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    #13
    Yes, its illegal, I suspect he could do 20 years to life for that stunt!!! ;-)
    I think it is on the "shady" side. One of those "If I can get away with it" sort of things...
    Some say that SE's dont read/use css, but I got a hunch that they do.. They are too advanced to let these little things slip by. Just my opinion. What do you think? Good conversation point at a minimum...
     
    budhanes, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  14. budhanes

    budhanes Peon

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    #14
    Trick #1, if your going to hide text, don't use a class of "hidden"...
     
    budhanes, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  15. cheaptraffic

    cheaptraffic Active Member

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    #15
    So true. It is like saying:"hey google, i am hiding my text, you wont find it here" lolz
     
    cheaptraffic, Apr 28, 2008 IP
  16. schgrv

    schgrv Active Member

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    #16
    Might be they are very honest. They are doing wrong things but telling to Google we are doing wrong things so do not Penalize us. He hee hee so funny.
     
    schgrv, Apr 28, 2008 IP