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Legitimately hidden text - How does G treat it?

 12:25 pm on Feb 3, 2010 (gmt 0)


On some pages, our client features large chunks of hidden text (css display: none). By clicking a certain link, this text is made visible to the user through a tiny piece of DOM-utilizing javascript.

The motivation behind this set-up, is that the text, while relevant to a portion of users, makes the page unnecessarily long to those users not interested. This in turn will not help conversions.

How would google treat these chunks of hidden text?



 4:51 pm on Feb 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I too have such hidden texts. i.e. Tabbed content . Would like to know too if SEs see it as something bad...

If there is a chance of this being bad, ill remove it and try to fit it in somehow.

Johnnie: I have a feeling that Google is ignoring the hidden portion, they may be seeing where in the page that content visually appears thru some browser emulator.


 5:31 pm on Feb 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Exactly, google is testing and using browser emulators for years already..

still it keeps difficult for them to be sure it is no spam or cloaking.

My site is full of hidden text. Advanced personalized menus. Fun thing is that many menu's point directly to other interesting sites, so maybe thats why im not penalized..


 5:41 pm on Feb 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been using this kind of legitimately hidden text for years. In fact, every site that has a "hover menu" is using it. There's definitely no problem, as long as an obvious user action reveals the hidden content.

How Google does the analysis technically, I'm not sure. But I've never even seen one false-positive penalty from this kind of thing. One thing we do know is that the human editorial evaluators - and there are thousands of them - are trained extensively in detecting deceptive ways of hiding text. So my guess is that Google relies on human input before handing out a hidden text penalty.


 1:10 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

We have a FAQ page that's over 3000 words in total, and so the 10 FAQs are by default hidden on load with CSS:none and then modified by javascript to show on user click.
G did a lot of crawling of this page and it took over a year for it to rank well on an established site (though that also coincided with the addition of self-referring links between FAQs, which rank excellently) but is now doing well without problems.
I've noticed that Microsoft has started using these collapsable divs in their Knowledge Center articles, though vice versa with hide on click.
One thing I haven't tested however is a system to have search terms highlighted and that div open when referred from a SERP - I haven't figured that out technically yet, though seems to work well on this site.


 2:41 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Got to ask... how is "hidden text" via css actually hidden? Maybe I'm not coding correctly because the few times I don't display text until mouseover all that stuff has already been read and indexed by all of the SE's out there.


 3:40 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Right - it's only "hidden" in the initial browser view, before some user action makes it visible. This kind of legitimate hidden text is certainly index-able, and so is non-legitimate hidden text as well.


 1:30 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've used this technique when re-developing sites that were ranking without any negative effects. I've seen it used extensively on sites I find ranking.


 2:14 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maybe this is somewhat related, but if the content in those hidden divs is marked up using Microformats, this is what Google have to say about it, emphasis mine...

It can be tempting to add all the content relevant for a rich snippet in one place on the page, mark it up, and then hide the entire block of text using CSS or other techniques. Don't do this! Mark up the content where it already exists. Except in special circumstances (for example when marking the best possible rating for review sites that don't use a 5-point rating scale), Google will not show content from hidden div's in Rich Snippets.

Google Knol - Hidden div's -- don't do it!

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