Can Invisible Text in CSSs Slip Under Search Engine Radar?

I'm literally inundated with questions on the subject of invisible text & hosting so in I thought I'd debunk some myths and give you the facts straight up.

What is invisible text? Invisible text is the body text that's the same or similar color to the background. You know, the stuff you can very easily see on a page if you press Ctrl-A or highlight everything on the page with your left mouse button.

Will invisible text hurt your search engine rankings? Undoubtedly! If you attempt to use the same color text as the background color of your web pages the search engines will penalize you.

Why? The use of invisible text is commonly considered black hat seo by the search engines and a blatant spam tactic. If your visitors can't see or read the text then what good is it anyway? It's deceptive period.

Trust Google when they say in their Quality Guidelines & Specific recommendations to avoid hidden text or hidden links.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

Now here's why this topic is so interesting? and I know you're saying, why should I worry or care about invisible text if I've never used any on my web site? Well the answer is simple.

You may be hosting invisible text on your website right now & not even know it. In fact you were never intended to know it... That's why it's invisible!

WHAT? Yes... you may be getting duped!

So just what exactly am I talking about? I'm talking about your hosting company (usually the free ones) leeching your Google PageRank & building link popularity for their clients off your web pages & bandwidth. If you don't think they do it? guess again. It's a lucrative business.

Now with that said I'm not going to name or badmouth any specific hosting service. What I am going to do is tell you how to determine if you're an unsuspecting victim.

Here's an invaluable tool to help you detect search engine spam penalties!

http://tool.motoricerca.info/spam-detector/

Secondly, double-check your cached pages to see what the search engine robots actually see when they index your page. Look for additional links & advertising in the source code that isn't in your original source code.

If you find additional advertising or links that aren't on your current pages? your host MAY be killing your search engine rankings. The simple solution to this problem is to immediately transfer your domain to a trusted service provider.

Now let's talk about the invisible text you can't see at all on a page. Yes, you could still be hosting invisible text. Even if you press Ctrl-A or highlight everything on the page with your left mouse button & nothing shows up!

Just for the record you'll find some content management programs employing this very technique. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my PageRank 5 realty site had two sets of Meta keywords on my pages, easily seen when I view Google's cached versions....

I was choked... especially since their user agreement didn't disclose this fact!

Is using invisible text in cascading style sheets good? Nope!

There's a new school of thought claiming you can use an alternative cascading style sheet (CSS) approach to placing invisible text on your web pages without penalty.

The theory is predicated on the premise that you could employ an external style sheet in another directory. There you' d simply define a special class for a tag like < P > where the font and background colors are identical.

The claim is there's no way for the current search engines algorithms to distinguish the color codes and penalize you. While this may or may not be the immediate situation it's fundamentally WRONG!

Invisible text is invisible text & it's spam.

Since many invisible text tricks utilize CSS positioning properties to hide their contents, you'll soon see (if not already) the search engines employing advanced algorithms to find hidden text in CSSs.

If you subscribe to the CSS theory you'll undoubtedly be revisiting your strategy or paying later by being blacklisted or removed entirely from the various search engine indexes.

Incidentally, before you roll the dice on this one you might want to consider the fact that the tool I just referred you to is only the beta version and the developer is already planning to add support for identifying invisible text in CSSs! Just how much more advanced and further ahead do you think the search engine techs are?

So what does it all mean to you & what should you do?

1.Check your cached pages for invisible text.

2.If you find Invisible text or advertising determine it's origin

3.Read every user agreement very carefully

4.Take action & do something about removing it!

The bottom line lesson here is simple. Trying fool the search engines with Spammy tricks or hocus pocus schemes has never worked for long in the past. Don't employ unethical spam techniques and don't become an unsuspecting victim yourself.

Copyright 2005 Lawrence Deon

Lawrence Deon is a Search Engine Optimization/Marketing Consultant Author and Developer of the popular search engine optimization and marketing model Ranking Your Way To The Bank. http://www.rankingyourwaytotheban k.com

Beating the New Google AdWord Rules with Blogs and RSS

When Google Adwords first came on scene, it was not immediately apparent to most people... Read More

How To Write Effective And Unique Articles That Are Optimized for the Search Engines

It is a well known fact that writing, distributing and posting articles to various location... Read More

Increase Web Site Sales with a SEO Proposal - Part 2

Part I of this article discussed some of the points that should be included in... Read More

The Hottest Tip On Getting A Web Site Listed Quickly by Yahoo, Inktomi, MSN, FAST and AltaVista

Every webmaster knows that the free search engines are a major source of traffic.They also... Read More

Are You Hung-Up on Page Rank and Back Links?

It's unfortunate that many website owners are so hung-up on Page Rank, they'll rarely if... Read More

Duplicate the Exact Steps Used to Get a Number 1 Yahoo Ranking in Less than 30 Days

If you have ever been into a McDonalds you will understood the value of the... Read More

How To Really SEO Your Site

Search engine optimization is one of most popular online marketing tool for any website.... Read More

Improve Search Engine Rankings - The Real Deal!

Ok, here's the deal, follow these steps and shoot me if your rankings doesn't improve.... Read More

The Google Strategy

Webmasters across the Internet were totally floored by what happened to their Google ranking recently.... Read More

Link Popularity - Basic Overview

There are many techniques that SEM/SEO experts use to optimize Web sites. One of the... Read More

The Purpose of PageRank?

I am sure the first thought provoking question that popped into your head would be:... Read More

The Top 3 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Websites Search Engine Rankings- and How to Fix Them!

Getting your website up and running is hard enough. After spending hours getting the HTML... Read More

Yahoo!/Overture Site Match: A License To Steal

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, I'm sure you've heard by now, Overture... Read More

How Important is PageRank, Really?

Webmasters can spend most of their waking hours doing everything they can to raise their... Read More

The Role of the Robots.txt File to Improve Site Ranking!

Not many web master take the time to use a robots.txt file for their website.... Read More

Rock Your Rank With a Dynamite Text Link - Yahoo Directory Explodes Rankings

Last week a client called me excitedly exclaiming that their Google PageRank had jumped a... Read More

Youve Got The Power, Why Arent You Promoting It?

Like all things, theft is theft, misery loves company, negative people are everywhere, business is... Read More

An Introduction to Google Sitemaps

... and why I 'm dying to get finally in the Google SERPHave you also... Read More

Most Overlooked Search Engine Optimization Technique

Some of the basics when it comes to SEO and getting high ranking in search... Read More

Ten Critical Website and Search Engine Promotion Mistakes

When it comes to promoting your website, you might think that anything you can do... Read More

Get Traffic You Need - Make Your Links Work

So you have built a nice web site with good solid content and now want... Read More

Hiring An SEO Constultant - 10 Reasons Why You Should

It crosses every webmaster's mind anytime they see an ad or an email for search... Read More

Five Tips for Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization sounds so daunting for most young companies. Who has time for dealing... Read More

SEO Deadly Sins - Mistakes That Hurt Web Page Ranking

The following are a list of mistakes can ensure that your site maintains a low... Read More

The Simple Formula To Search Engines

Search engines are one of the best tools to bring targeted traffic to your business.... Read More

How To Find Good Keywords

Good keywords are frequently searched for (high demand) but not being targeted by many other... Read More

5 Extremely Valuable Search Engine Optimization Tips

Search engine optimization is THE most cost effective way for a company to market their... Read More

Why Do You Want to Link With A Home Business And Affiliate Website?

No, it's not a general question for all and sundry. Obviously, there are many who... Read More

SEO Trade Secrets - 8 Great Tools for Search Engine Optimization

About 80% of website traffic comes through search engines. And research shows, if you're not... Read More

Secrets on Website Promotion: How You Can Get a #1 Ranking for Your Website Name Within 30 Days

Launching a new website with enough acceleration to rise above this ever increasing daily din... Read More

Feed Those Hungry WIIFM Monsters, Get Them To Multiply

Everyone packs their website with keywords in order to feed those keyword-hungry search engines spiders.Just... Read More

Get A Top Position In Google In Three Days!

So how do you get a top listing in Google and how do you get... Read More

Optimize Your Site Pt1

Listed here you will find the five of the most important points to remember when... Read More

How to Develop a Successful ROI for Your Website

Are You Really Measuring for Return on Investment (ROI) with Search Engine Optimization?Puzzling studies and... Read More

Put the Full Power of Google to Work with 11 Google Power Search Tips

Google has many ways to help you find want you want easily. Here are 11... Read More

Keep Your Content Fresh with this Quick and Easy Tip

Some of the Search engines want only original content. So if the Search Engine Get's... Read More

Search Engine Spiders Lost Without Guidance - Post This Sign!

The robots.txt file is an exclusion standard required by all web crawlers/robots to tell them... Read More

Use Keyword Articles for Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is very important for your online business if you are interested in... Read More

Copywriters: Make Friends with Search Engine Optimization

I don't know about you, but I felt a lot of internal resistance when it... Read More

Googlebot Wont Go Home

I have 'Googlebot' crawl my site every day like a dispossessed spirit that can't leave.It... Read More

Search Engine Robots - How They Work, What They Do (Part I)

Automated search engine robots, sometimes called "spiders" or "crawlers", are the seekers of web pages.... Read More

Google WebSearch? & Google Adsense - Yahoo!

The makers of the world renowned search engine, Google, have taken things a step further... Read More

Companies Cash In on Your Search Engine Ignorance

This article will cause many companies to stir, but it's about time someone started speaking... Read More

The Biggest SEO Scam of All

While there are many ethical SEO firms serving Internet users today, a few notorious practitioners... Read More

SEO - Google Sitemaps Explained

Once again I seem to be writing about Google. The reason Google keeps cropping up... Read More

Importance of Keywords in Anchor Text or Title Text

Keywords are indisputably, the single most important element of an anchor text.First of all, for... Read More

Google: The Ultimate Web Writer?s Style Guide

Indulge me for a moment.Forget that Google is a search engine. Just for a moment,... Read More

Has Google Indexed Your Site ?

So has Google found your site yet?Over the last 12 months Google has undergone many... Read More

Even More Tips For Getting A Top 10 Search Engine Ranking!

I have spent some time discussing the 5 different options you have for getting your... Read More

Niche Marketing - Why Keyword Research Come First

A good portion of my business involves spending hours and hours using incredibly powerful but... Read More