Hidden Links and Text
Hidden links and hidden text are different things. Hidden links are links to other pages and sites that are seen by search engine spiders but not by surfers. At one time, they were commonly used in providing search engine spiders with other pages to index or to increase the link count of other sites and pages. Today, most hidden linking techniques are recognized by search engines and are a cause for penalty. Even if a search engine doesn't spot your hidden link, a competitor might find it and report your site. If you must have links you don't want your visitors to see, a diligently maintained cloaking approach is probably the lowest risk method.
If you simply must hide a link and aren't concerned about possible search engine penalties, a simple way is to use a tiny transparent gif, 1 pixel by 1 pixel. E.g. <a href="linkpage.html"><img src="clearpixel.gif" border="0"></a> It is important to include border="0" in the img tag, otherwise the fact that it is a hyperlink will cause it to have a visible border and it will be no longer be hidden. Some webmasters use 'empty' links to do the same thing, e.g. <a href="linkpage.html> </a> The advantages to using the transparent gif instead are two-fold. Firstly the 'empty' link depends on a bug in the spider which could be fixed. The transparent GIF however could be anything from a banner to a button for all the spider can tell. Secondly, the IMG tag can contain ALT text which can be read by the spider, allowing you to associate keywords with the linked files. However, the ALT text will be displayed to anyone using a browser with image support turned off, so beware. Tiny images like this are sometimes used for legitimate purposes, like tracking traffic on a remote site.
If you don't have a transparent 1 pixel gif, click here to download one from the AIM-pro site.
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