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Recently, a forum I frequent has received multiple spam posts on its general discussion board (three in the space of ten days). They all look like legitimate posts at first, but buried inside each of them was a spam link to an external website. I don't know whether it's the same website each time - I didn't check the first two before they were edited out by moderators and the threads locked.

Here's the odd thing, though: the link is always in 1pt text and coloured to blend in with the post's background, so it's completely invisible. You'd have to know it was there and actively hunt it down in order to click on it. So getting us to click the link is clearly not the goal here.

So what's the point? Why spam us with links that we don't even realise are there? There must be a goal here, but I'm at a loss as to what it might be.

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    The link is not meant for people but for automated processes. – schroeder Aug 27 at 6:32
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Increase site ranking

When search engines parse pages (Googlebot for example), they look for backlinks in order to try to determine the popularity of a website.

The more backlinks go toward a website, the better search engines will rank it and the higher it will get in search result.

Decrease competitor site ranking

It's also possible that the attacker might be a competitor and try to decrease the ranking of a website (the forum here). In order to do this, attackers plant backlink in competitor website that links to porn, illegal good and services or untrusted website. There are then good chances that this will decrease the rank of the website.

You might find more informations about it by researching about Black Hat SEO

  • I'd say the first one is more likely here. Our forum is pretty niche, and I can't think of any other community that would want to tank our search results like this. Thanks for explaining. – F1Krazy Aug 27 at 12:25

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