Irony Alert: Could Alphabet’s Hidden Link To Hooli Get It Banned In Google?

If you know where to look or click, there's a hidden link from Alphabet to Hooli, the fictional tech company in HBO's Silicon Valley comedy. But hidden links are a no-no with Google's search guidelines.

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Alphabet, the new company planned to eventually absorb Google, might be off on the wrong foot with its soon-to-be subsidiary. It turns out that Alphabet is already violating Google’s guidelines against search spam.

It’s unlikely Alphabet will suffer any serious penalty, given that the violation is apparently part of a joke. But technically, Alphabet is doing something that Google warns against.

Several people have spotted that the Alphabet home page has a secret link. This link leads to Hooli [XYZ], which is the research arm of the fictional Hooli company in HBO’s comedy series, Silicon Valley.

You’ll only spot the link if you scan through the source code of the home page or if you click on a period at the end of a sentence midway down the page that talks about Google’s drone delivery effort, Wing. Here’s the section and the source code:

google hidden link

Funny. But not so funny when you consider it precisely violates Google’s guidelines about hidden links:

Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including…

Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

Google has banned or penalized various parts of its operations from its own search engine in the past, most recently a penalty against Google Capital-backed Thumbtack. However, given that there’s clearly no intent to mislead the Google search engine, a penalty is unlikely, despite the technical violation.

Still, having a CSS class that’s specifically for “hidden-link” isn’t a great example for Google’s future parent to set. Maybe some of those new SEOs that Google is hiring will help set Alphabet straight.

For more about Alphabet, see our Meet Alphabet, The New Conglomerate Absorbing Google That’s Run By Larry Page & Sergey Brin post on Marketing Land.

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About the author

Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and MarTech, and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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