Hiding text for legitimate reasons is nothing new. People use them for FAQ pages so visitors can quickly see the top questions and click to view the ones they are interested in, other types of sites use it to hide spoiler related content, and the others are using it to cut back on the amount of visible content that on a page for a better user experience.
On Friday’s Google webmaster central office hours, John Mueller clarified Google stand on content – whether it is text, images or video – that is legitimately hidden on webpage.
In general this is something where if the content isn’t really visible, then it’s really hard for us to say whether or not it makes sense to put a lot of weight on the content. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s a video, if it’s a link or if it’s images, this is essentially something that has been the case for really long time now that if this is really important and relevant content, then make sure that it’s actually visible.
One way to think about this is if the user is searching for that content specifically, something perhaps hidden or not-so-hidden in a tab where you have to click the tab to see that content, if the user searching for that content, they land on your page and they look at your page and say well this isn’t really the content that I was searching for, it’s not the image of the car that I was looking for, but rather a big piece of text or image of something else, then they kind of feel frustrated in that they didn’t really get what they were looking for. So we tried to preempt that a little bit by saying well if it’s hidden, maybe it’s not really that important for the user, maybe we shouldn’t be putting that much weight on it.
With that in mind that is something you think is really important for your users, make sure it’s either visible when they go to that page or if you think that this is significant enough maybe set up a separate URL where this is actually visible. If it’s essentially auxillary information where the user might want to look at it for a really in-depth review that page or that content, then maybe it is fine to keep in a tab or behind something like a click here to learn more about this. So that’s something where I wouldn’t say you always need to do it one way or the other, but rather think about how important is this content, is it relevant enough to you really want to have it visible right away or is it something that you don’t really find that critical for this page, but the users might like it to get a little bit more information.
It is important to note that there is a difference between hiding text legitimately on a page and so-called “hidden text”. Hidden text is actually against the Google webmaster guidelines, but this is more along the lines of hiding hundreds of keywords at the footer of a webpage with white text on white background. So don’t confuse hidden text with hiding text legitimately for user experience purposes.
This will impact how SEOs implement the user experience, particularly if content being hidden is something that one could possibly search for. Whether it is unhiding it or adding additional pages, webmasters shouldn’t legitimately hide any content that could potentially bring traffic to the site, because the content won’t be indexed.
Here is the link to the video:
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