A New Hidden Paid Links Method?

June 3, 2011 // paid links, seo

As I often find myself – I was looking at some competitor link profiles this morning and something caught my eye. I noticed one site had increased their links considerably over the last few weeks (and seen good ranking increases too). So I trawled through the sites to see what all the noise was about and found this:

Just looks like a normal affiliate banner right? Well if you hover the a mouse over it you get the alt tag “click to flip” appear:

Once you click on the banner it flips over and low and behold there is text and a text link:

I had a look at the code and it seems that it’s a class labelled “sponsor” – does this mean it’s what the site where I found the link has setup or is it something this particular brand has started putting together?


Either way this link is followed and in some respect hidden from users but not search engines – what do you say to that Google?

Matt Ridout

About the author

My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.


  1. Good find, Matt. I was impressed when I found people (and I’m sure CTM was one of them) having a banner ad where the writing was separate anchor text, not just a part of the picture.

    As you say though, this new technique is “hidden from users but not search engines,” so do you think Google will be quick to identify and penalise these types of links?

  2. Nearly as good as when a certain company disguised their paid linking as Google Adsense.

  3. Pingback: Why Doesn’t Google Penalise Paid Links in the UK? | SEO Unique Blog

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