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I recently took over webmaster duties for a website and found the following item repeated on every page of the site.

<div style="position: absolute; top: 0px; left: -6500px;"> Websites with bunus at Bingo <a target="_blank" rel="dofollow" href="http://gbetting.co.uk/bingo"> gbetting.co.uk/bingo </a> games. </div>

It is obviously hidden from the visitor (like a honey pot). The referenced link is up for sale. I don't know if it has ever been a real website.

This looks like a "Black Hat" method of SEO, but I don't understand the purpose of it. Why have a dead link to an apparent gambling site that only search engine bots would see?

I intend to remove this div, but would like to verify that it is some type of previous SEOer's black hat method.

Thanks

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    it is more likely a malware attack than someone adding the code manually. it must have been added months or years ago when the website was active. For the purpose of a backlink. – Robert hue Jan 4 '16 at 17:28
  • That makes sense. I guess it should have been caught and investigate long ago. Thanks for your reply. – Dave Jan 4 '16 at 17:31
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It is an attempt to use trickery to influence search engine rankings. Search engines count links on pages as "recommendations." More inbound links generally mean higher rankings. Using anchor text in those links with relevant keywords can directly contribute to good rankings for those keywords.

Search engines view this as a black hat technique. Google says:

Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:

  • Using white text on a white background
  • Locating text behind an image
  • Using CSS to position text off-screen
  • Setting the font size to 0
  • Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

Using hidden links can get both the site with the link and the site receiving the link penalized. It was either added by a very naive webmaster that doesn't realize this is one of the worst SEO things they can do; or by malware.

  • This is making sense now. I couldn't understand why the previous marketing/SEO team had these lines in their code knowing what you mentioned above about google guidelines. I didn't consider that it may have been added by malware. Lesson learned. – Dave Jan 4 '16 at 17:56
  • Never could find where this was coming from. It's showing up in a joomla site. I searched the database and all the site files (everything in the home /and home/public_html/ , but couldn't find the code that was generating this. The search word I used was "Bingo". How do I go about finding where this is coming from? Is there some code calling this from outside this hosting package? If so, how do I find it? Or, what type of expert do I employ to find it for me? – Dave Nov 3 '17 at 6:47
  • The first place I would check is the .htaccess file. That might have evaded your search because it is usually considered a "hidden" file. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 3 '17 at 10:00

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