Google Says You Can't Hide Links With Disclosure

May 23, 2011 • 9:15 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Cat HidingI spotted an interesting thread at the Google Webmaster Help forums on the topic of placing links within widgets.

A site that offers a widget to users that places a "hidden link" within the widget code is negatively affected by these links because of the hidden link. At least, Google's JohnMu pretty much confirmed it by replying to this webmaster saying:

In particular, if you're aware that you were providing hidden links like that to webmasters to embed on their sites, then I think you should work as hard as possible to contact all affected webmasters and to work with them to have those links removed. I realize this is not an easy task, but it was you who provided them with content that goes against our Webmaster Guidelines, potentially causing issues on their sites as well, so I think it would only be fair to help them to resolve an issue like that.

The site in question is webdesignsim.com and it is currently offline for me. But it was offering a widget to webmasters with hidden code. There are two interesting pieces to this story:

(1) The webmaster's claim to innocence, which reads, "links were included in my widget that i myself have coded and it was clearly written "THIS MODULE INCLUDES HIDDEN LINK." I was not aware that this was against google guidelines."

Since I disclosed that I am hiding something from the webmaster and from Google, how is this my fault? You see the rational there?

(2) The webmaster does have a good point in that there are thousands of sites and widgets that do this. You place a widget, badge, poll, etc on your web site and often there is code that is in an iframe or noscript tag that shows where the poll or widget came from. I do not see all those sites suffering from hidden links within widgets.

I personally did not see the widget in question here, so it is hard for me to be that specific. But I found the thread interesting enough to share with you all.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to Aftab Uzzaman on Flickr.

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Comments:

Jonathon Colman

05/23/2011 01:44 pm

 Cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Xe6btYAQHSUJ:webdesignsim.com/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

Guest

05/23/2011 07:43 pm

"THIS MODULE INCLUDES HIDDEN LINK." I was not aware that this was against google guidelines." I AM GOING TO ROB A BANK.  I was not aware that this was against the rules or law if I announced it. guidelines.

Asefati

05/24/2011 02:46 am

The difference between robbing a bank and hiding a link is that one is illegal and one is not ;)

Luke Jones

05/24/2011 12:41 pm

But robbing a bank is against the guidelines of society. Guidelines created by the people in charge in that society or "arena". Hiding a link is against Google's guidelines, who are the guys in charge of sites appearing in their SERPs so both can be used in comparison.

Terry Van Horne

06/01/2011 02:22 pm

" The webmaster does have a good point in that there are thousands of sites and widgets that do this. You place a widget, badge, poll, etc on your web site and often there is code that is in an iframe or noscript tag that shows where the poll or widget came from. I do not see all those sites suffering from hidden links within widgets."  What is described above is not technically a link as it is not a href and likely a spider knows the dif between link and frameset... getting google to index the frameset can be a problem as well... so as usual... people cloaking using lame examples to "legitimize" a stupid trick... Just my .02

Chris Captivate

06/09/2011 12:30 pm

For some reason i just could not stop laughing about this!...... hahaha. 

SEO Professionals

08/12/2011 03:33 pm

Whether you participate in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program or not, you will have your offshore financial activity looked at. The difference is how the IRS approaches it. It can be extremely in depth when you try to avoid letting the IRS know of your financial activity.

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