Hide Links From Google? Google Says No To SEO

Jun 18, 2010 • 8:35 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

SEOmofoA Google Webmaster Help thread started by SEOmofo is clearly out to try to get a Googler riled up. He posted on the topic of hiding links from Google in order to get "an official answer" from Google and that is what he got.

In fact, he even wrote a blog post Hey, Matt Cutts, I’m using JavaScript to hide links from Google, cool? Matt never replied, but JohnMu from Google replied in the Google Webmaster Help.

It is actually a fun response to read, so let me quote it:

I think you're mixing two unrelated topics:

1. You're hiding links from Googlebot. Personally, I wouldn't recommend doing that as it makes it harder to properly understand the relevance of your website. I also doubt that you'd see any kind of visible change with regards to PageRank. Ultimately, that's your choice, just as it would be our choice to review those practices as potential attempts to hide content & links. What's the advantage for the user?

2. You're using late loading of content in an attempt to improve the perceived page loading time. To be honest, given your high level of technical expertise, I'm certain that you could have the full content load within a much lower time without doing that. Personally, I'd go for c) showing the user the full content within less than 2 seconds. It's not impossible -- and not only will Googlebot like it, your users will as well. I find slow loading affiliate sites (regardless of whether or not it's showing some of the content alread) a big pain and a frequent sign of low-quality content. Make your site run like lightning all the time.

Have you seen the stats by Yahoo & Amazon on slow sites? There's some great stuff at http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/ and http://code.google.com/speed/ . Also, did you see http://blog.mozilla.com/metrics/2010/04/05/firefox-page-load-speed-–-part-ii/ ? They estimate 60 million more clicks by making a single late-loading image show up 2.2 seconds earlier. In comparison, you're considering delaying the loading of your affiliate content for users by up to 12 seconds (ok, looking at the waterfall diagram you included, it's not quite that long, but you get the idea)...

So personally, instead of doing these tricks, I'd work on creating a long-term infrastructure that would allow you to serve your content at a blazing speed, all the time, without an attempt to do a short-term optimization for Googlebot.

Seems fairly clear to me that Google doesn't think it is "cool" to use either of these tactics. The "worlds greatest SEO" posted this for what reason? Did he really not know what Google would say to his question or is he trying to cause some controversy? Either way, it worked, a Googler replied, we covered it and maybe everyone is happy.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help and a hat tip to Colin for pointing me to this thread.

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