I was curious how a competitor's Web site was ranking so high for many of my keywords, especially since the company is located in another city. Looking through their source code I noticed at the top of every page the following coding was being used:

<div class="content"><h1 class="SEOnly">keyword, keyword, keyword, so on</h1>
<h2 class="SEOnly">keyword CITY, keyword CITY, keyword CITY, so on</h2>

The CSS class "SEOonly" reads "height:1px;" essentially making the text in both unreadable to Humans and the top of their content section clean, but Google is certainly indexing all of this.

Are either of these acceptable SEO that I should be implementing on my Website? I am using a Wordpress framework with my own custom theme, a fair amount of images with good ALT tags and a robust SEO plugin. However it appears these guys know a heck of a lot more than me.

  • Yes Google will penalize your website if you are using hidden text or links.
    – user22987
    Feb 12, 2013 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


Yes, google penalizes for hidden content. You have found an example of this where the text is small to be legible, however the following techniques are also a problem

  • text the same color as the background
  • text positioned off the screen
  • text that hidden using css display:none

You could report this site to Google. They have a help document that explains how to do so http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93713

  • Thanks and I used your link to report this. I was already aware of your other points but never saw 'hidden' h1 & h2 before.
    – Dr Dave
    Feb 11, 2013 at 16:56
  • This CSS: h1.hidden {display:none;} will hide the h1 content and not take up any space on the page. Maybe you never "saw" hidden text because it was hidden!
    – Kenzo
    Feb 11, 2013 at 19:37
  • A 1px is effectively as good as a hidden element. They are either penalized or it is ignored in the ranking process on that page. Feb 11, 2013 at 21:40
  • 2
    Furthermore just because they are ranking, doesn't mean Google doesn't know about it. Such stunts can harm rankings but doesn't mean the page will be de-indexed. Focus on building content, and your beat them in the long run. Feb 11, 2013 at 21:43

Google will penalize you for it. See the Google Guidelines page one hiding text and/or links http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66353.

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