SEO News You Can Use: Yes, HTML Buttons Can Hide Links From Google

SEO News You Can Use

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For the longest time, crafty SEOs have been hiding internal links in HTML button elements to manipulate rankings, blocking PageRank from crawling non-essential pages like those containing information about terms of service and privacy. This practice dubbed the Post/Redirect/Get (PRG) pattern, is viewed by many web owners as a viable tactic for hiding links – it’s even been referred to as “the new nofollow.”

But does it work as effectively as some SEOs suspect? The answer is yes: It turns out Google can’t see links hidden in button elements

In a recent Google SEO office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller all but confirmed that the PRG pattern does exactly what SEOs think it does (without explicitly mentioning the term “PRG pattern.”) 

In response to a question about whether it negatively affects SEO for internal linking if an anchor tag only contains a button tag, Mueller replied:

“So, at least as far as I understand it, by default, a button element on a page is essentially tied to a form element.

“And you can use JavaScript to trigger a kind of a navigation to a specific URL, which makes it kind of like a link.

“But, essentially, Googlebot won’t click on these buttons to see what happens.

“So, we would not see that there’s a link associated to another URL within your website.”

Search Engine Journal’s Roger Montti reported on the somewhat surprising admission, emphasizing that he, personally, does not endorse the tactic. While Google makes no secret of its disapproval for hidden text and links, Montti points out that some SEOs have legitimate reasons for wanting to use this not-so-legitimate tactic for hiding links. These include:

  • eCommerce store owners trying to prevent Google from having to deal with the multiple URLs often generated for the same product page
  • Web developers who want to prevent the resubmission of a form caused by reloading a page
  • Web owners who want to stop the PageRank algorithm from flowing to pages that don’t contribute to rankings. This practice of limiting which pages receive PageRank is known as “PageRank sculpting.” 

So, we have confirmation that PageRank sculpting does what SEOs have hoped it does – but is it even worth it? The fact is, trying to distribute PageRank among internal pages through PageRank sculpting will never be as powerful for SEO as a link from another high-authority website – or an excellent internal linking structure – would be. In this case, just because it can be done doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done.

More SEO News You Can Use

Privacy-Protecting Search Engine DuckDuckGo Has Reached a Major Milestone: Google can’t be said to have any true “competition” – but that doesn’t mean privacy-minded search engines aren’t seeing success in their own right. In a massive win for niche competitors, search engine DuckDuckGo pushed past 100 million search queries in a single day for the first time. At its current rate of growth, DuckDuckGo – which, with 2.3 percent of the search market, trails behind Yahoo (3.05 percent), Bing (6.45 percent) and Google (87.81 percent) – is predicted to reach the 1 billion search query milestone sometime around 2026. For a search engine with such a different business model, that’s an impressive achievement that proves the future of search is still subject to change.

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Adding SEO Value to No-Click Searches: Less than half of all Google browser-based searches result in a click. A slew of ever-increasing search engine results page (SERP) features keeps users on the SERP without requiring them to click through to URLs. But that isn’t to say sites that get featured on SERPs don’t gain value from no-click searches – the struggle is how to measure it. Search Engine Journal contributor Greg Jarboe tackled this tricky subject in a blog post that provides new ways to measure no-click SEO results. With eCommerce no-click searches standing at a whopping 48 percent and media industry searches at 63 percent, learning how to track the impressions from being visible on SERPs can help paint a more accurate picture of SEO success.

Google’s Standalone Gmail Ads Will Be Gone in Six Months: Google has announced in an email to advertisers that Gmail ads will be rolled into Discovery Ads on 1 July 2021. Gmail ads, which appear in Gmail’s “Promotions” or “Social” tabs in Gmail accounts, will no longer be targeted separately – instead, Gmail ad targeting will only remain available via a Discovery campaign. The email, published in a Search Engine Journal article, says Discovery campaigns will “enable you to reach up to 3 billion people across Google feeds, including on Gmail.” Bear in mind, however, that your advertising budget won’t just be used on Gmail ads as it was before. Google recommends doubling your budget to capitalize on the greater reach of Discovery.

Google’s Crawl Stats Report is Showing a Bump in Crawl Rate: You may have seen an unexplained increase in Googlebot’s crawls to your website, but don’t be too alarmed. It is simply a change in the way your crawls are being reported. The new-and-improved Search Console Crawl Stats Report, which underwent a significant set of changes back in November 2020, is showing more types of crawls to your website. This will have no impact on your rankings but will ideally provide you with more insight into the mysterious ways of Googlebot. 

YouTube is Allowing Channels the Ability to Set a Custom URL: Once they meet a moderate set of requirements, that is. This has only recently been made possible by YouTube, and many users may not even be aware of the development. Channels that have been around for more than 30 days, have over 100 subscribers and have an uploaded profile picture and banner image qualify for a custom URL that can be claimed and changed up to three times a year. Want to give your channel its own customized URL? Check out Search Engine Journal writer Matt Southern’s step-by-step instructions for setting up a custom YouTube channel URL.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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