Like on-page linked text analysis in general, identifying grey areas like hidden links (and text) should be an important and thoroughly considered step.
You will want to research hidden links:
(!) When you need to diagnose a recently hacked site;
(!) When you need to test a web design (some hidden text may be totally innocent and only appear illegal);
(!) When you need to identify the reason of the possible penalty;
(!) When you want to resd possibly rearch your competitors’ grey tactics (and possibly report them);
(!) If want to find out if your hidden links can be found manually by search engineers or competitors;
For the sake of an expriment I have hidden a link in my blog sidebar and will now try to find it using the three methods listed below.
To hie the link, I created a new div class of links that have the same color as the site background and used it for my link:
Now, what wil the tools say?
1. Spam Detector
Spam Detector Tool: This tool analyzes a web page, searching for red flags that search engines could consider spam: keyword stuffing, doorway farms and hidden text.
Well, the tool didn’t find the link, probably because:
To be absolutely fair to the tool, I do use it from time to time and it successfully found some red flags for me previously. It just doesn’t work for all kinds of red flags.
2. Web Developer Toolbar (FireFox)
With web developer toolbar you can play to your heart’s content and if you spend half an hour or so you are more than likely to find hidden links if there are any on the page – but unlike with the above tool, it takes more time and you need to know or at least to suspect that there is something shady on the page:
From the toolbar you can:
- CSS -> Disable Styles – > All Styles (if the hidden text is hidden using CSS, like in our case)
- Disable -> Page Colors (also works in our case, see the screenshots below)
- Images -> Disable images -> All Images (if the hidden text is hidden on the images)
- Images -> Hide Background Images
- Information -> Display > Link Details (to see the details of the hidden links)
- Information – > View Link Information
- Information -> Display Topographic Information
- Outline -> Outline Links > Outline External Links
Now, see how we managed to find our hidden link using a few of the methods above:
1. Disable CSS:
2. Disable page colors:
6. Display link details:
3. SEO browsers
SEO browsers also display CSS- and Javascrip-free versions of the page so you become able to see hidden text and links (but it does require some considerable amount of time to compare the browser and SEO browser versions to spot the difference):
Also, be sure to read this post: 4 Ways to Hide Content From Google : And Google’s Reaction as well as the linked discussion.