Does Google Care If A Link Is Underlined? – SEO FAQ

Author: Gab Goldenberg

A visitor dropped by my site asking whether Google cared about a link’s styling. I got in touch with Matt Cutts, and he was nice enough to take a few minutes to share an answer. Here’s what Matt said:

“This is something that can go both ways. On a graphics-heavy site where it was the design idiom to go non-underlined until you hovered over a link, I wouldn’t foresee that being an issue.

If we thought that people would doing it in a deceptive way though, that could be higher risk. I documented a good example of this here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/hidden-links/ “

On that post, Matt addresses spammy links. In particular, he highlights the use of javascript to hide the fact that links are links. The javascript prevents the cursor from changing to the “this-is-clickable-hand-icon.” Simultaneously, the link had CSS applied to make it look like ordinary text…

So if it’s just a style element, Google probably doesn’t care. If it’s being used to deceive users, particularly in conjunction with other code that will make it impossible to discern a link short of viewing the source code, then you’re taking risks.

As an aside, it’s better usability (see Conversion Dr’s test),  to make links underlined since that is what users expect. If you MUST go non-standard, tedster and other WMW users have some worthwhile comments. And the dean of usability himself, Jakob Nielsen, has this Alertbox with particular detail for intranets, etc.

P.s. It’s worth repeating that at the end of the day, the ranking paradigm at Google is user experience, though the brand building is also key, so why not check out my brand-building guide for SEOs and Internet Marketers?

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Author: sroiadmin