Don’t Hide Links From Matt Cutts

    April 16, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Sneaky people try all kinds of ways to hide links from visitors while showing the links to search engines, but one Matt recently discovered goes overboard in his opinion.

Don't Hide Links From Matt Cutts
Don’t Hide Links From Matt Cutts
Who Can Compete with Google?

Imagine this cheery scenario. It’s a Sunday morning, and you’re reading something in your web browser. For whatever reason, the page goes out of focus, maybe an IM arrived, and you click somewhere in the middle of the page to bring it back into focus just as your significant other steps up behind you.

Just in time to see you loading a hardcore porn site into the browser.

That chain of events could have happened to the unfortunates who ran into a site Matt Cutts featured on his blog post about hidden links. He showed a block of text about an IMAX film, and the block contained two obvious links to other places.

What the text didn’t show are two other links, hidden from the viewer but in place for search engines to find. Matt showed the source code for the page, which included the crafted links.

Passing the mouse over the links would not change the cursor or the text. It would not display anything in the status bar of the browser. The links are functional, and clicking on one of them would send the visitor on to the linked site.

"If you happened to click on just the right word, you’d get whisked away to a hardcore porn site," Matt wrote. "In my opinion, this is a good example of a link that crosses over into deceptiveness and violates our quality guidelines."

Search engines and paid link schemers are going to keep butting heads, as the engines try to keep paid links from artificially boosting a site’s rankings, while the linkers look for more ways to elude detection.

The issue received some notice in January, when V7N claimed it could deliver paid links that would be impossible for the search engines to detect. V7N later backed off on that claim when Matt wrote about the likelihood of the plan violating search engine guidelines.