3 Simple Tools to Find Hidden Links (and Text)

SMS Text

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;
(!) Etc.

    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.

    Hidden link

    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:

    Hidden 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:

    Any trick based on Javascript or on CSS positioning/layering will not be detected (for now).

    Spam detector

    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:

    1. CSS -> Disable Styles – > All Styles (if the hidden text is hidden using CSS, like in our case)
    2. Disable -> Javascript > All Javascript (if the hidden text is hidden using Javascript)
    3. Disable -> Page Colors (also works in our case, see the screenshots below)
    4. Images -> Disable images -> All Images (if the hidden text is hidden on the images)
    5. Images -> Hide Background Images
    6. Information -> Display > Link Details (to see the details of the hidden links)
    7. Information – > View Link Information
    8. Information -> Display Topographic Information
    9. 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:

    Disable CSS: hidden links

    2. Disable page colors:

    Disable page colors: hidden links

    6. Display link details:

    Display link details: hidden links

    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):

    Hidden links: SEO browser

    Also, be sure to read this post: 4 Ways to Hide Content From Google : And Google’s Reaction as well as the linked discussion.

    Ann Smarty

    Ann Smarty

    Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
    Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
    Ann Smarty
    Subscribe to SEJ!
    Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
    • Bala sundaram

      Ohh.. Great post.. I used the search engine spam detector and found the details for my site.. Thanks again.

    • Bala sundaram

      Ohh.. Great post.. I used the search engine spam detector and found the details for my site.. Thanks again.

    • Jermaine

      It would be really amazing to have a one-click tool to check your site for hidden text. Any web developers out there that can help, i would buy the software.

    • Vijendra

      awesome tools to have a one-click tool to check your site for hidden text.

    • Foxcrawl

      i still do not understand the purpose of hiding links? i am a bit puzzled,,,what/to whom is it used for???

    • Mike

      Was looking for a answer to this problem and you nailed it
      thanks guys!