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"Hidden" text/keywords
How Googlebot tells if they're hidden

 2:09 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Since the latest javascript craze, a lot more people have started using "DIV popups" to display content.

So if I have a link that says click here for more info, the user clicks it, and I *unhide* a DIV with a bunch of information in it.

This is a totally legitimate and real-life situation it is currently being used in.

However, for this to work, you hide the DIV and its contents until someone clicks on it.

How does Google tell this apart from using hidden text?

Short answer, they can't. So is it not safe to use these style of "popups"?



 2:17 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

What about those dhtml dropdown menus where a div stays hidden until a mouseover event? Clearly such methods are "safe", whether triggered by onclick or onmousover events, From what I see in the SERPs, Google struggles and often misses in trying to identify hidden content by algorithm alone.


 2:24 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

From what I understand, Google doesn't pay any attention to javascript, which is why javascript navigation has always been a problem. Bear with me, I'm not sure about that, but I would imagine that their algo would have some kind of template reference to determine that the text is a different color in one part of the page as oppossed to another based on something like a bgcolor being defined (or lack thereof), if not then it would check to see if the style ever revert back to a contrasting color after the white text. I could just be rambling, but anyway...


 2:24 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

A bit of trial and error will reveal many ways that Google can't catch with their algorithms.


 5:22 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

A bit of trial and error will reveal many ways that Google can't catch with their algorithms.

There are many, many ways to evade Google's penalties for hidden text.. but this post wasn't about that.

I'm more concerned about becoming penalized on a purely whitehat site, because I decided to use "DHTML" for popups, menus, or otherwise.

Has anyone done any tests on this?


 6:23 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

As well as fear of penalties, also consider indexing of hidden div text. One approach is to place text initialy inline at appropriate places enclosed in identifyable span elements, onload use javascript to move it to divs. This may be overkill, but leaves you less prone to G's evolving algo, and places text in correct context for indexing.



 7:51 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Where is the borderline?

<div style=width:300;height35;overflow:auto>
Search box

some words below the fold

Will bring You in trouble, like painfull experienced last December

<div style=width:300;height60;overflow:auto>
Search box

some words below the fold

Seems to be okay


 1:29 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're worried about this for popup help text, one solution is to use ajax to pull the help text from your site as needed, rather than storing it all in the page, hidden. Yeah, your help text won't be indexed at all, but at least you won't have to worry about a hidden text penalty.


 4:15 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

So, basically no one knows?

I hate the idea of making some sloppy hack of a fix so I can cater to Googlebot.

If I have to use AJAX, or store the content in JavaScript, or etc.. I might as well just start full out cloaking, too.


 4:43 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

(a) Make it appear the the bot that the text is plainly visible. In other words, don't make the div hidden by default; do that through Javascript or an external CSS file.

(b) Then make sure that the effect is clearly used to enhance the user experience and that your site can pass a manual review. If you're #3 in Google and you employ hidden text, then whoever ranks #4 is liable to report you for SE spam.

P.S. As daveVk alludes to, consider the consequences of having the text indexed. If someone comes to your page looking for a specific word or phrase and can't find it until they do a View Source, they're ALSO liable to be annoyed and report you for spamming.


 4:52 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)


I run an ecom site.

We have about 2500 different products, all different types of widgets.

The widgets are separated into about 15 categories.

There is no good way to put any information on these pages and have it displayed by default, but it'd be useful to have a link that says "How do I know which XYZ Widget is for me?"

The "problem" is that there would be a substantial amount of text in this floating div, probably 250-500 words, and it would probably be the strongest on-page SEO factors of that page.


 5:00 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I noticed that even big guys use the div trick to hide large amount of text which is on the page but can not be seen. First I thought, it must be an error, but now I think they are doing this intentionally.

For example check: us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399244544,00.html

Should be one paragraph on the page right? Not so.


 5:17 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)


They are definitely hiding intentionally.

Check this out:

<script language='Javascript'>
if (SYM=="EXC") {
} else {
document.write("<DIV style='display:none;'>");
// -->


 5:24 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes, but at least they have a link over on the top left which displays the hidden text. Inefficient of them to do a page refresh to display it though, since it's there already...


 5:40 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)


i was more referring to the fact that they use JS to write that div tag, because they're obviously afraid of having a display none


 5:40 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

edit: looks like that link does write that JS var, thats an appallingly ignorant way to do that.

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