Seriously: Hiding Links With Font Colors?

Jul 15, 2013 • 8:46 am | comments (28) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search & Web SEO Spam

ostrich head in sandI just don't get it. How can people in 2013 think Google is that dumb? A Black Hat Forum thread has a webmaster asking if his idea of hiding links using black font on black background a "smart idea."

This webmaster asked, and he asked this seriously:

My friend has a website with a PR of 3. I'm going to pay him some money to put 2 links on his homepage. The links have nothing to do with his website, so I'm thinking of asking him to just put them in the footer and making them the same color as the footer background so users can't see them. Is this a smart idea?

Really? Are there still people out there doing this stuff? I guess so. But doesn't Google catch this stuff fairly easily? I wonder if they even bother to penalize the sites doing this or if they just discredit the links? I assume they just discredit them because this is way too easy to do.

The good news is that everyone in the thread is telling this webmaster NOT to do this. One said:

No, Google will eventually find that link and slap you hard. I've never heard of such invisible links working tbh..

Sad, sad, to see this.

Forum discussion at Black Hat Forum.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for ostrich

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07/15/2013 01:33 pm

Barry, as the owner of RustyBrick I think you already know that Google doesn't render links by color but by html code. CSS is for humans - not for bots. So no this doesn't work in 2013 but it wouldn't have worked in the past either unless it would have been checked on by a human that wasn't too familiar with such tactics. But maybe it will work one day when bots interpret things as humans do if that day ever comes.


07/15/2013 03:15 pm

I have a competitor (unnamed - he knows exactly who he is and will know I mean him if he sees this comment) who places links in the footer of his clients' websites with anchor text of       Yep, absolutely invisible. I thought the first one was a mistake but not the second and third and...

Dillip K Mohanty

07/15/2013 03:16 pm

Fools are there for ages!


07/15/2013 03:45 pm

hehe... not so sure about merely discounting Barry. Methinks that they hit enough elements on-site, they could be in line for a 'Pure Spam' manual action.

John Britsios

07/15/2013 04:03 pm

Barry, should we laugh or should we cry? No wonder why our industry has a horrible reputation.

Toni Anicic

07/15/2013 05:01 pm

Well google crawls CSS. Is it so hard to compare the #XYZ of background to the #XYZ of the font color of the same element? I don't think so. Could be a bit harder with picture in the background though, but that one can be spotted by a human reviewer. The case where CSS is used to add background color and font color is so easy to spot by software...

Joseph Rega

07/15/2013 05:37 pm

So, it's going to be a "PAID" link with same color text as the background. Seems legit. #sarcasm

Durant Imboden

07/15/2013 06:20 pm

"The good news is that everyone in the thread is telling this webmaster NOT to do this. " How is that good news? They're interfering with natural selection!


07/15/2013 07:14 pm

The dumbest thing is all this "black hat" seo forums. I would be never that stupid to write, share or even demonstrate how my "black" techniques work on a forum, on a site, etc... Why? Simple! Google checks these websites and my methods, if hurt Google, would be immediately (maybe not but who knows?) fixed. Anyway, these forums are full of newbies with stupid questions like these....

Bruce Brownlee

07/15/2013 08:12 pm

Despite all that being said about the stupidity of using color hidden links, Google has not totally cleaned up the world of links just yet. In February 2013 we did a backlink study on voip services providers out of the UK. One service provider does web development for hundreds of customers, but also has a toll free number business it promotes. We found that the voip services provider had used a JS script to hide links to it's toll free service pages within the footers of thousands of pages it built for paying customers of its associated website business. The links are being indexed by Google but are not apparent to the website customers. Despite all the hoopla about Google killing off sites with suspicious inbound links, it appears that Google has being giving full search rank credit for all those fraudulent backlinks. We found several other companies using this technique or a variation. The business sites hosting the parasite backlinks are all reputable sites for legitimate business. I'm sure the business owners have no idea that their entire sites are a link farm for the UK-based voip service provider.


07/15/2013 09:25 pm

Of course, you can always throw Google off the track by using a BLINK tag with FONT tags. ---clever link--- Why make it blink if you don't want anyone to see it, right?


07/16/2013 07:19 am

Sad to say, but Google is still sooo far from applying its own rules on this, that it scaries me... As an example, This absolutely spammy-cloaking website is ranking for more than two months already in the first 3 positions for and searches like "cursos de ingles en irlanda" (English courses in Ireland).


07/16/2013 07:20 am

Sad to say, but Google is still sooo far from applying its own rules on this, that it scaries me... As an example, inglesenirlanda .net This absolutely spammy-cloaking website is ranking for more than two months already in the first 3 positions for google .es and searches like "cursos de ingles en irlanda" (English courses in Ireland).


07/16/2013 09:10 am

Ultimately even if Google does not penalize the site doing such kind of tricks there is no use of doing this as in case Google discredit the links and one will not get link juice in other case as it is not visible to visitor there is not chance of getting traffic from that link.


07/16/2013 11:11 am

You wouldn't believe but i see such websites with hidden links very often. Even well done sites with PR 3 or higher can place such links.

Yogita Aggarwal

07/16/2013 11:32 am

Hey.. I have a query. Though i know the fact that hidden links would not work any more. In fact they can lead to a big penalty for the site from Google. One of my work related free blog is having the same color of anchor link and article text (Same color of article text and link is not intentionally but it is because of the blogger theme i am using) Would this also be the reason of penalty ?


07/16/2013 11:35 am

Nope not a problem for Google; has negative impact on usability though as users cant distinguish links (afterall, we should build websites for users not for search engines).


07/16/2013 11:38 am

Interesting thought, what if he nofollowed the hidden links? I know, I know... don't pass link juice. But there are several studies to the contrary, I believe nofollow links can help ranking. Either way... nobody should do this, just food for thought.


07/16/2013 12:11 pm

I worked out that this type of idea was silly after after 2 days in SEO.

James Louis

07/16/2013 02:49 pm

well it may be an 8 year old building his first web page...

Josh Zehtabchi

07/16/2013 05:10 pm

SEO Darwinism.


07/16/2013 06:14 pm

A few years ago, when i worked at EA, one of our pages was removed from Google's index because it had black on black text in the middle of the page. The text was there completely by accident. It didn't include a link or even a keyword anyone would care about. When we removed the hidden text, the page popped back into the index within a few days. My guess is that Google still penalizes sites heavily for doing this.

Andy Drinkwater - iNET SEO

07/17/2013 10:31 am

People think that when they visit my site it is just a black page with a logo. Perhaps I should change the text colour?

Yogita Aggarwal

07/30/2013 04:42 am

hm.. now i am bit relaxed :)

Patrick Coombe

08/04/2013 02:37 am

go figure on that forum

ACSIUS Technologies PVT LTD

08/09/2013 12:04 pm

Is it serious? Are we still at this point?

Tom Buckland - HQ seo.

08/17/2013 10:02 pm

Lol, why is he paying for an unrelated link in the first place?


03/30/2014 01:26 pm

To get some publicity, perhaps?

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