It’s easy to get caught up in the “state of the art” SEO world when you do it for a living. I got this email from a friend and was instantly catapulted back in time about 5 years:
I’ve been told that KEY words that search engines use to find our site can be hidden. Meaning that these words are not visibly seen on our website, but the’re still recognized by the search engines. The key words that I would want listed are the names and addresses of all our competing dentists.
After I regained my breath, I quickly fired back an email that said, “And I heard that cavities are caused by worms,” and included a link to the history of dentistry Wikipedia article.
I couldn’t resist a little professional humor, but also included the following, which hopefully will help dispel the rumors about hidden text on a website and reinforce that it is a BAD IDEA. Hidden text used to improve a web page’s ranking by tricking search crawlers into thinking the page contained more content than users could actually see.
There’s a lot of misinformation floating around the internet about Search Engine Optimization. Hiding text was effective until about 5 years ago, then the search engines “got wise” about how people were using it to manipulate search results. Google’s guidelines are pretty clear, and the penalties are too severe to risk testing it:
From Google’s official guidelines (emphasis mine):
If your site is perceived to contain hidden text and links that are deceptive in intent, your site may be removed from the Google index, and will not appear in search results pages.