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It is flagging up the drop down menu as having hidden text, could this be the problem?
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[edited by: tedster at 6:26 am (utc) on July 18, 2007]
Now, overstuffing keywords into menu links anywhere -- that can be a problem. But I strongly doubt that it's the menu system CSS that is the issue here.
The day Google penalizes for things like that is when I take my business elsewhere :)
I imagine that CSS is disabled - and so impossible to 'evaluate' - when a page is being indexed
I have developed a few sites with CSS drop-down menus and ALL of the pages are ranking well, despite very little (or no!) 'active SEOing' or whatever the phrase is for hassling G to rank you
On visiting the root index page you see 10 categories listed down the left.
If you click any category link, you are taken to the category index page, and the category sub-page links for that category drop into view in the left-hand nav bar. You can now see 21 links.
If you are on any content page, the navigation bar shows the index page link, 10 category index page links, and the links to the 10 content pages in the current category.
The navbar is an included file. It works on nested DIVs and it includes all 111 links every time (index page, 10 category index pages, 10 content pages inside each category).
The main point is that for 100 page views, 90 of those links are hidden links, only 21 links are actually visible on the page. On the index page, there are 100 hidden links and 11 visible links.
Only 10 category page links drop into view on any page, all the category page links for all the other categories are hidden each time.
This does seem to have a few negative (Duplicate Content-like) effects which I am currently investigating. The snippet also seems to be composed of nav bar text more often than seems necessary.
The nav bar code makes up almost 60% of the code on each page.
The site navigation may be changed to a PHP solution that only shows the required 21 links per page. Instead of hiding the other 90 links using CSS, they will not be there at all.
I think the algo (which as we know is hevily focused on links and anchor text) just chokes on figuring out the relevance of each page -- they all end up looking quite similar and things get a bit "foggy". Google does deal with it, to a degree. They can see that the menu area is in a different block from the content block. But the way I think it works out, the scoring picks up a bit more static along with the page's relevance signal.
[edited by: tedster at 9:50 pm (utc) on July 20, 2007]
"..common sense tells us that not all hidden text means webspam--e.g. hidden DIV tags for drop-down menus are probably not webspam, whereas hidden DIVs stuffed full of unrelated keywords are more likely to indicate webspam."
I also think many, if not most, of the drop-down or mouse-over menus I've seen are an excuse for poor planning, giving you everything at once so that the designers don't have to come up with a logical navigation hierarchy. Excellent post by tedster and discussion here...
Mouseover Menus - or DHTML indigestion
I've believed for a few years that it isn't a good idea to have identical text across a site at the very page top (even a byline or slogan), and nothing has ever led me to change my mind.