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Wordtracker.com Hidden Text HTML

Why did Wordtracker.com, a Google PageRank PR7 website, use CSS to hide text such as: Primary navigation, Help navigation and Secondary navigation? And why Google did not penalize such untrustworthy act?

Free Keyword Tool - Wordtracker

It is stated clearly in Google’s Hidden text and links – Webmaster Help Center that the use of hidden text “can cause your site to be perceived as untrustworthy”.

Hidden text

Does it mean that a PR7 site can hide text using CSS and not get penalized?

I discovered the hidden text several months ago when trying to figure out how Google generate sitelinks for some of these high PR sites.

When I searched for free keyword tool, Wordtracker was Number 1 and appeared to be “authoritative” site with a list of sitelinks.

Free keyword tool

Initially, I didn’t want to blow up the matter and waited for the PageRank update to see if Google will take action and downgrade Worktracker.com but nothing changed. Worktracker continues to be a “trusted” site.

Now that we know Google “tolerated” certain hidden text technique using CSS, you may want to try it on a MFA or throw-away site. Here’s how Wordtracker did the trick.

Hide Text with CSS Position:Absolute & Left:-999em

The hidden words to be hidden were enclosed within <em> and </em> tags.

Hidden text technique used by Wordtracker

Click Here to View Full-size Image

The <em> attribute was modified with absolute position and the words were placed way out of the viewable area.

Hidden text technique left: -999em

Click Here to View Full-size Image

Warning: Use the above Hidden Text CSS technique at your own risk! You may be penalized by Google eventually.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66353
    “If your site is perceived to contain hidden text and links that are deceptive in intent, your site may be removed from the Google index, and will not appear in search results pages.”

    I think the key is whether it is “deceptive in intent”, and for the case of Wordtracker, it’s probably more for aesthetic web design purposes, rather than to trick Google.

    Willy Lim

  • Peter Tan 3 Jul 2009, 12:02 am

    Of no offense to Willy, I think your conclusion might be wrong. Being aesthetic is one thing, but for whatever reason should WT place information on non-viewable location? Since it’s not even viewable, why bother to include that text/data/info in the site? If it’s spam, it’s spam.

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