Understanding hidden text and its impact on SEO

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If you hide text from page visitors and only show search engines, you’re doing an old, spammy technique.

While this is true, there are a few ways to hide Google-approved content. If you intend to hide content, make sure you follow Google’s guidelines.

The SEO benefits can increase engagement, make your site more popular, and crawl more pages.

Hidden text defined

In the early days of search engines, hiding text was something many people did to help their site rank better. Today, however, it is considered a spam technique if done incorrectly.

During the early days of search engines, simple text matching algorithms were used. This meant that a site could publish content for visitors and hidden text for the search engines. The purpose of the hidden text was to help a site rank higher in SERPs and in many cases consisted of keywords repeated on the page. If this was done, spammers could create long essays for the search engines.

On the other hand, people visiting the page would receive a conversion optimized page that would not rank in the search engines by itself.

How to not use hidden text on your website?

In the past, various methods were used to hide text. A common method was to use a white font on a white background and add the font to the bottom of the page. Spammers would also create pages with the content on the far right, off the screen. This means that visitors have not seen the content.

Another method was to add an image over the hidden text. Cloaking was also used when search engines were identified and showed different content. This was the most advanced method.

Hide content without breaking Google’s rules

Google downloads CSS and JavaScript files to see the web page how visitors are doing. It is important what is seen on mobile devices matches what search engines see.

This is acceptable if the content is hidden behind “read more” links to make it visible on the page. If users can see it, so can Google. Tabbed content is also fine. Google indexes content hidden behind accordion tabs. Also, this content is not devalued in any way.

Hidden content and SEO

It is important to use hidden text and image content as most website visitors are on mobile devices when viewing web pages. It’s difficult to display content on smaller screens, while still being easy to reach and the rest of the site.

It’s important to take advantage of the opportunities you have to fit more content onto small screens. Using hidden content with clickable icons will make your web page less cluttered and provide a better user experience.

Making sure your site offers a good user experience is more important than ever for SEO. That’s because Google wants to list sites that users want to see.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.


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