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headings and SEO question

  • # September 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I designed a small site (aroommatesurvivalguide.com) for a friend to sell books, and she reports that sales are down considerably. We decided we needed to improve the site’s placement in search engine results pages. I know the search engines ignore metatag keywords, so we came up with a number of phrases we think searchers are likely to try and incorporated them into h2s, h3s and h4s. Things like “how to find the right roommate” and “how to interview a potential roommate”. But a searcher might try “finding the right roommate” and “interviewing…” and obviously displaying variations like this wasn’t going to look right, so I added several of these variations to the XHTML, each with a class of “hide-me”, and applied

    .hide-me: { text-indent -9999px }

    to make them invisible.

    I feel like this is a legitimate practice, but I’m wondering if the search engines view this as a shady practice akin to keyword stuffing? If so, do they “penalize” a site using this approach by giving it lower placement in the results pages? Anyone know?

    Thanks

    # September 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Read what Google thinks about it.

    # September 12, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Thanks, seeingsound. The link your provided is helpful. It says, in part, “Hidden links are links that are intended to be crawled by Googlebot, but are unreadable to humans..” Yes that’s what I’m doing. Google adds “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.” But I’m not trying to be deceptive. My intent is to cover the likely variations a searcher might type into Google and other SEs without displaying a length, repetitive, and ugly list. I think this benefits both visitors to the site (by giving them a cleaner, more attractive page) as well as those searching for information that the site provides. I’d like to think that Google et al understand and accept this, but they probably don’t.

    So I probably must guess at the odds of the site being blackballed from results pages, and if the benefits are worth that risk.

    # September 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Then use (if your already don’t) Google Webmaster Tools.
    If you add your site to there, Google will warn you when your site looks spammy. There is also some other good tools.

    # September 19, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Sorry to be tardy responding.

    I appreciate the advice; Google Webmaster Tools looks like it can be quite a good resource, although I must admit that there’s a lot there that I don’t immediately understand

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