Template club get PageRank 9 with millions of hidden links

Last year I discovered a hidden link on a client site pointing to a template site with a PageRank 9. Wow! How did they get that. After some digging around I found the reason. They sold templates with hidden links back to their site. It could be a stupid mistake from their developer, so I am not outing the company. One year later they still got a decent toolbar PageRank 9 and no Google penalty.

Let’s look at the links

As you can see they have lots of links, not just from hidden links. This could make it hard for Google to pick up on the hidden links.

They have 3234 root domains using templates with hidden links. That is a lot of links!

High-profile clients

Many of the domains are high-profile and trusted sites. I found hidden links on sites like a Nobel winner and a Prime Minister. They have 6% of their backlinks from .edu domains.

Link hidden inside a H1 with a div

hidden link

The code looks strange, right? Not sure why they did this if they didn’t know hidden links was against Google quality guidelines. Feel free to comment on this.

Takeaways from this case

Always look closely on any template or plugin you use. If you are going to reuse it for clients make sure there are no hidden links or other sneaky stuff going on in the code. Hidden links can work and give you a toolbar PageRank 9. It would be interesting to know what Matt Cutts and his team thinks about this..

21 tanke angående “Template club get PageRank 9 with millions of hidden links

  1. Aussiewebmaster

    Hidden links are tricky – many people throw wordpress templates up with them built in at bottom where you can remove but few do… widgets are another area where you can do this and even be okay with google so long as the link is right to the topic of the widget and where you are landing the link

    good stuff mate

  2. leo Saraceni

    Wow… I havent seen many PR9 sites that werent universities or high-profile services such as twitter or facebook. And now a website template service gets it using hidden links?

    Anyway… I came here from @yoast’s tweet. Will def comeback.

    1. Geir Ellefsen Innleggets forfatter

      Hard to tell for sure. It appears to have been working for at least a year. I will keep an eye on their rankings and «pagerank».

  3. Brent Nau

    Free WordPress templates are notorious for hidden links. Most are encode with Code Base 64 so the unfamiliar would not actually see a link within the actual code.

    1. Geir Ellefsen Innleggets forfatter

      It’s around 7 years old. I think it has been working for 2+ years, but know it has for at least 1 year.

  4. Geir Ellefsen Innleggets forfatter

    Update: Looks like they still got PageRank 9 and ranking like before. Below is a list of the PageRank for this URL via SEOmoz Historical PageRank Tool:
    PageRank 9 reported on 01/24/2011
    PageRank 9 reported on 03/02/2010
    PageRank 9 reported on 02/22/2010
    PageRank 9 reported on 10/23/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 08/26/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 08/26/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 05/22/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 05/22/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 05/06/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 04/09/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 04/08/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 03/28/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 03/23/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 03/23/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 02/18/2009
    PageRank 9 reported on 02/18/2009
    PageRank 8 reported on 04/03/2008
    PageRank 7 reported on 10/11/2007
    PageRank 7 reported on 08/09/2007

    I guess Google don’t care unless it’s on New York Times or Search Engine Land.

  5. Andrew Wheeler

    Nice find.

    A lot of the ‘share this’ and ‘add to’ social bookmarking plugins also have high PR – 8/9, as they all have do follow links within the plugins. Great way to build (and leak) PR!

  6. Eryn

    So you mean the hidden links are not visible on the template design? Designers create templates with links at the bottom and they give the templates away for free for that reason, to build backlinks.

    1. Geir Ellefsen Innleggets forfatter

      Yes, it’s only visible in the source code. They used width = 0px and height = 0px. Also it’s not at the bottom.

      The code:

      div id="jaframeid" style="position:absolute;top:1px;left:1px;height:0px;width:0px;overflow:hidden"

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