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I'm using hidden forms, to collects some statistics.

Will it have any penalty from search engines ?

Update 1:

I'm collecting some statistics, based on user interaction with my website. For example, POST requests will be sent to server, when:

  • user stops a playing video
  • user has watched a video till it's end
  • etc.

Using form_remote_for in Rails, i'm just rendering the form and keep it invisible.

The reason on doing that - is to utilize authencity tokens, and just have less to code. Via JavaScript i'm only filling some hidden fields up and initiating form submission.

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How are you using hidden forms to collect statistics? Seems like an odd way to do it. There is potential for this to be problematic depending on how you've done this. –  John Conde Apr 6 '11 at 14:36
    
I'm going to collect statistics, based on user interaction with web-site. –  AntonAL Apr 6 '11 at 18:40
    
Gonna need more specifics then that. How exactly does the form collect the data? Forms just don't fill themselves out. –  John Conde Apr 7 '11 at 1:55
    
See Update 1 in my question –  AntonAL Apr 7 '11 at 9:34
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5 Answers

It doesn't seem like this would be a problem as I don't see this form containing any kind of content that might be possibly used to benefit your rankings. But if you're using JavaScript to populate and submit the form why not go all the way and use JavaScript to capture the data and submit it via Ajax so there is no hidden form necessary?

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Yeah, just use AJAX. No forms required. –  DisgruntledGoat Jul 28 '11 at 12:14
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As John commented, this seems an odd approach, but there are two things to consider:

  1. Search engines can't fill out forms - but they can/do try to submit with what they algorithmically calculate will be correct information for given labels/inputs to get to the 'walled garden'.
  2. Hidden forms could be seen as not serving your website visitors in their best interests, which Google takes a dim view of (if they discover you doing it), as this requires some active submission - there's much better ways of doing this - using cookie tracking or session data etc.

Definitely worth reconsidering your approach.

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I've added some details. See Update 1 in my question. What do you think on that ? –  AntonAL Apr 7 '11 at 9:35
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How would you like your website to show up in search results with a little note that says, "Warning: this site may harm your computer"?

Now ask yourself if you can be 100% certain that google won't accidentally think your devious tactics are meant to harm their users in some way.

In brief: yes, I do think there is some potential for this practice to backfire.

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I've added some details. See Update 1 in my question. What do you think on that ? –  AntonAL Apr 7 '11 at 9:36
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Not only do you render the form, but you also interact with it through JavaScript. I don't think it will have any kind of adverse effect on your ranking, if that's what you're concerned with.

And if you have content that is generated through JavaScript, especially AJAX, then it will not be crawled unless you specifically tell it to.

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Anything hidden is perceived as a threat. You website might be indicated as a suspicious and than you will lose potential clients or visitors.

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Care to offer some data to back this up? There's lots of legit hidden stuff on web pages, too. –  John Conde May 30 '11 at 4:53
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