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!
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
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..