'Financial Times' Caught Selling Hidden Links

Once the primary method of achieving higher search engine results placement, hidden links - links which appear as text on a webpage but are invisible because they are the same color as the background - are now used, mostly, by disreputable marketers and are frowned upon by search engines who will punish sites using these links by pushing the site further down the results page. Surprisingly, hidden links have been found on the Financial Times website. Ken McGaffin, while doing some research for a client, found 138 hidden links on the Financial Time website within the first hour of his search.

McGaffin explains why marketers would engage in these shady practices, writing on his blog, "Google will regard a site such as FT.com as a trusted authority and any site that FT.com links to will get a significant boost to its ranking. The site will move towards the top of search engine results, bringing more visitors and more lucrative business as a result."

We don't pretend to know a lot about search engine marketing but we don't have to know much to realize it's practices such as this that undermine the medium, affect consumer trust and make life that much more challenging for marketers who choose to play by the rules. We think it's a shame The Financial Times - and other sites - engage in this clandestine method of money making.

by Steve Hall    Jun-12-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Online   

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Actually hidden links wouldn't help the FT, they would help the website they linked to. Hidden text (which the link would be) can help (unless noted by the search engine) the website it is on by providing additional info. Invisible links, with such little text, would be of no practical benefit, especially on a site with so much info already.
It is just dumb.

Posted by: Jeff on June 13, 2005 11:24 AM

The links are of a much greater benefit to the other website, even though the anchor text is sub-optimal, links are still the currency of the web. Linking out to relavant websites is beneficial as well it increaes what is known as your 'hub score'.

Posted by: graywolf on June 13, 2005 11:39 AM

It benefits The Financial Times because they make money off the sale.

Posted by: Steve Hall on June 13, 2005 11:47 AM