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Display:none in Global Navigation - googlebot's perspective

 5:21 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)


We have links in our website's global navigation bar that use "style="display:none;" when we looked at HTML source.

These links do not show up when we look at Google cache --> text only version of the page which is obvious.

But if I use "user agent switcher" add-on in Firefox and set it to Googlebot, the links in global nav are displayed.

I am wondering what is the best way to find out if Google can/can not see the links.

Thanks for the help!



 7:19 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Inquiring minds want to know: How does a human visitor follow an invisible link?

If it is present in the page source, it is visible to any robot. But the "display: none" declaration is equally visible. The googlebot is pretty stupid, but it isn't that stupid.

Sounds like the c-word to me.


 8:55 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

The links are visible to human visitor.
I am doing SEO audit on this site and found the "display:none"
in HTML source.


 9:25 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

in GWT use the "fetch as googlebot" feature.


 9:29 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)



 9:33 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It sounds like one way that CSS and JavaScript can team up to create those menus that open up a sub-menu when the visitor hovers on the main item.

If that's the case, Google WILL see the link (because it's visible in the source code) and it will not be counted as hidden content (because an obvious user interaction makes those sub-menu links visible.)

[edited by: tedster at 9:51 pm (utc) on Sep 26, 2012]


 9:42 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster! That makes sense.
The global navigation is created by an out-of-the-box widget which is using style=display:none.
It is possible that the widget has capability to display sub-menus, but we are not using any sub-menu in global navigation bar.

When "fetch as Googlebot" is used, the links are displayed.

I won't consider this as a high priority fix for SEO then.
In the new web redesign, we are planning to build the global nav without Javascript.

Thank you everyone for the feedback and tips!


 10:10 pm on Sep 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

welcome to WebmasterWorld, Sonia21!


 5:40 pm on Sep 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Does anyone knows if there is a difference for Google unhiding links with onmouseover or onclick? (I'm having links in an invisible div which are shown for onmouseover and I want to change it to onclick with a new design.)


 7:25 pm on Sep 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

As long as the full content is there in the source code - in other words, not generated by a second AJAX-style call to the server - then I've never seen any difference between onlcick and onhover as triggers.

The challenge for the website is making sure that hidden content (links or plain text) that is relevant to the search query is also made visible on the page, switched from "display:none" to "display:block" for example.

That's not hard to do when the referrer with the search terms is available. However, you can kill a page's effectiveness as a landing page if the referrer is "keyword not provided" and you can't make the choice of what to display. You can easily serve a version of the page that doesn't even have the query term displayed anywhere at all! Even "Find in page" gets stymied by display:none content.


 7:38 pm on Sep 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Does anyone knows if there is a difference for Google unhiding links with onmouseover or onclick?

It should make a difference-- but maybe not in the direction we think. Your average mobile device only recognizes one "mouse" action, and it's usually equivalent to a click.

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