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Hidden text on interactive pages - Is it a safe practice?
arikgub




msg:3792634
 10:37 pm on Nov 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have a website that uses javascript extensively to interact with the visitors. Text paragraphs appear and disappear in response to visitors actions on the site.

For example, after a page loads, it has a text paragraph hidden using a "display:none" directive, and the paragraph opens up only when a user clicks a button.

I am a bit concerned about how GoogleBot handles the hidden text in this case. The text hiding is not done for rankings manipulation, and there is no keyword stuffing here, just a regular text paragraph. It seems to me very natural to have hidden text in interactive web applications, so I guess Google must handle that correctly, but does anyone here can reflect on this based on his own experience?

 

tedster




msg:3792648
 10:54 pm on Nov 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Some people call this show/hide divs, and it's a common practice today. I've been using it for years, and it's been completely OK with Google as long as some user interaction can make the text visible.

I'd say the issue to think about is the user experience for anyone arriving from a search result. I try to include a script to change the page so that their search term is visible for them, if the default rendering of the page has it hidden.

piskie




msg:3792695
 1:34 am on Nov 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Bearing in mind that Google has little or no JS skills, how does it know that the text can be revealed by the user

rogoff




msg:3792884
 11:56 am on Nov 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've just started using Adobe's Spry JavaScript framework and I was also worried about this. I did a bit of research and these techniques seem to be OK (as long as you're not deliberately trying to present one thing to people and another to the engines).

Spry has a tab widget that shows and hides tabs using JavaScript. They feature it on their main page at:
[labs.adobe.com...]

If you search for something that's in one of the 'hidden' tabs on Google, eg "The Spry Data set transforms complex data sources", you will see that it comes up on the first page of results.

arikgub




msg:3792981
 2:20 pm on Nov 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

thanks all for the reply

... completely OK with Google as long as some user interaction can make the text visible.

If you search for something that's in one of the 'hidden' tabs on Google, eg "The Spry Data set transforms complex data sources", you will see that it comes up on the first page of results.

so basically, it means that googlebot can execute JS code, and figure out how a page is rendered ?

rogoff




msg:3793027
 3:16 pm on Nov 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

so basically, it means that googlebot can execute JS code, and figure out how a page is rendered ?

No - if you turn JavaScript off, and then look at that page, you will see that the tabs do not appear but all the content does. This is how Google will see the page. Basically, the JavaScript re-organises the page layout as it loads. So, if I was you, I would make sure that your content is fully visible on the page even if JavaScript is turned off. This is generally a good thing to do for SEO and accessibility reasons.

tedster




msg:3793175
 6:52 pm on Nov 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

As I understand it, rogoff is correct. Ranking problems would come up from a manual or editorial feedback inspection, and not by algorithm alone. As long as all the content can be made visible by user interaction, a manual or editorial feedback inspection does not cause a problem.

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