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Understanding how Google treats ‘hidden’ content that is not visible to the user as soon as they land on a page of a website has a fundamental impact on how site owners present information to their audience. We’re not talking about old school cloaking tactics, or presenting different content to search engines than to users. Instead, we mean content that is presented on tabs or in ‘click-to-expand’ fields – legitimate methods of making large amounts of copy more easily digestible to readers.
Will your site be penalised for presenting content in this way? As ever, Google’s guidelines don’t give us clear yes and no answers. Here, we help you get to grips with what the guidelines actually are and how to apply those guidelines to your own website.
A couple of key things to note here:
Advanced CSS techniques can also be used to hide and reveal content using the :hover event. It is possible that Google will take these methods into account in the same way as display:none in the future.
It is therefore necessary to consider the principles Google promotes and reach an informed conclusion on the best approach. There is no single blanket recommendation and therefore each page must be assessed on its own merit.
For example, say a user searches for a term that is matched on a page but only in the hidden section. The user then clicks the search result to go through to that page but can’t immediately see the information they’re looking for because it’s hidden. They give up and return to the search results or head to another website.
This, in Google’s assessment, would not be a high quality user experience and the content within the hidden sections is therefore down-weighted.
For site content, the core principle to consider is:
Hiding content that is considered secondary to the main topic of the page is acceptable. However, it is essential that thought is given to determining an appropriate balance to ensure this method is not overused.
Consider the following:
There are a few key points to note here:
If you have any questions about potential hidden content within your site, get in contact with our technical SEO team here.