Can You Hide Text & Links From Your Users, If Search Engines Won't See?

Jan 22, 2008 • 7:35 am | comments (5) by | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Here is an unusual scenario for you. You have a web page, the web page is one page of many on your site. This specific page does not allow search engines to crawl them by using a robots.txt file to restrict access. Now, the webmaster wants to hide links or text on that page from the end user. If you hide text on pages that search engines are not suppose to crawl, but I guess technically can crawl since the page is not password protected, are you at risk to a penalty from a search engine?

Got that? Page A contains a noindex, nofollow META Tag. Page A, hides links and text. Can Page A cause the whole site to be penalized by Google, Yahoo, Live, or other search engines?

We know hiding links and text are against all search engines terms of service. But can you hide links and text on pages that search engines are asked not to crawl?

Why would someone want to do this? Designers might do this for 'creative reasons.'

There is currently a debate going on about this topic at WebmasterWorld. Personally, I think it would be fine to hide links or text in this situation - at least it won't be a violation of the terms of a search engine, since search engines are not allowed to access that page. It might violate your end user's terms of service, but technically, what a search engine should not be crawling should not be of interest to a search engine.

Am I right?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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