Hidden Text: Does it work for SEO?

Posted on December 6, 2010

 

hidden textSince the dawn of SEO, website owners have been using the trick of hiding text on their pages to fool the search engines. By making the text the same colour as the background, or concealing it through the use of CSS, website owners can fill their pages with as many keywords as they wish without hindering the look, or the readability, of their websites.

But does it work? Can you actually get away with hiding text on your website and achieve decent Google rankings as a result?

Well, if it didn’t work, people wouldn’t still do it. We see countless websites that have had text concealed within their pages, stuffed with keywords (and often placed with h1 tags) for the purposes of fooling Google and, quite, often those websites actually rank for the keywords in question. They’re merrily lording it high up in Google for keywords they’ve spammed up their pages for, flying in the face of good quality, ethical, SEO.

So if it works, where’s the harm?

This is the problem – while using hidden text may well work (and often does) it is against Google’s terms of service and, as such, can get a website into a lot of trouble. Many smaller websites, particularly those optimising for geographical keywords, may well get away with it for a long time – but it is by no means a long term strategy, nor is it a platform on which to build a successful website.

It’s like cheating on your tax return. You may get away with it, you may find years go by without you ever getting caught, but do you really want to run that risk? If you do get investigated (by the taxman or by Google) you’ll find yourself in a great big vat of hot water, one which you’ll most likely drown. While the taxman will demand money, plus interest, Google will make no such demands – it will simply kick your website into touch, banish it from the index and reduce your Google traffic from a flowing river, to a trickling tap.

In order to placate Google you would have to remove the offending spam, and then request re-inclusion – which may or may not be forthcoming. Once you have done this of course, even if you do get put back into the index by Google, it won’t be near the top where you had previously featured as a result of the hidden keywords – it will be wherever Google genuinely feels you belong; probably quite far down.

You will then need to start from scratch with search engine optimisation, done ethically, to show Google what your website is about. This will take time but, if your business has grown used to the level of traffic and conversions your website has been enjoying, can you afford to wait?

The best option of course is not conceal text on your website at all (and not cheat on your taxes) because being found out will ruin anything you have built up. Do it properly from day one, and be rock solid in terms of SEO.

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