Removing hidden online poker link from Joomla template
SPAM links in free Joomla templates
Just to make it clear up front, this article is not about removing author credit links from templates with Creative Commons licenses. Authors do deserve credit for their work and their links should be left intact or adjusted to match site's design.
A friend of mine asked to create a simple website for him. We chose Joomla CMS and Gambling template for Joomla (gameon) from Quality Joomla Templates. Although his site had nothing to do with gambling, we liked template's structure and were going to heavily customize it anyway.
Once website was almost ready we noticed that Google had already indexed it, which was a good thing. What was not so good, Google from somewhere pulled text "Thanks to online poker sites" and was displaying this in site's description.
Quickly checked website's source and surely there was following html:
<p>Thanks to <a href="http://onlinepokertool.com" title="online poker sites">online poker sites</a></p>
The link was hidden and was not appearing as a visible text anywhere on the website.
I run a text search through all template files and there was no references to poker, gambling or anything similar. It was clear that template's creators (or somebody who modified template afterwards) somehow obfuscated the link so it's difficult to find and remove it. I've seen similar behaviour when authors make it difficult to remove credit footer links, which some may justify some may not. This, though, had nothing to do with legitimate credit. Credit link was at the bottom where it should be, and online gambling thing was a sneaky attempt to conceal a hidden spam link into somebody's website.
A short investigation revealed how this was setup.