SEO Question: Is hidden text bad for SEO?

Image from SXC.hu

A recent question that has been submitted via my questions page is  ”hidden text – is this good or bad for SEO?”

Great question and this really splits into two parts:

1. Black hat SEO:

The first part is using black hat SEO techniques to hide text, these could include:

  • Text the same colour as the background
  • Floating text using CSS off the screen
  • Setting the font size to one pixel so it can’t be read

Of course these three examples are a big no-no. If you do the above, you will probably end up getting a Google penalty and de-indexed.

2. jQuery:

So what is jQuery? Here’s a great explanation from Wikipedia:

“Used by over 46% of the 10,000 most visited websites, jQuery is the most popular JavaScript library in use today. jQuery is free and open source software. jQuery’s syntax is designed to make it easier to navigate a document, select DOM elements, create animations, handle events, and develop Ajax applications.”

So the last time you was on a website and it said “read more”, and then some further content dropped down in a slidding fashion – this is more than likely a jQuery function.

Whilst you could say it is hiding content behind an animation, here is a great video/explanation from Matt Cutts of Google:


Some takeaways from this video and potential rules for using jQuery to hide text in a drop down include:

  • Don’t stuff realms of content and links into the jQuery function
  • Use normal links for drop downs over small 1px links
  • Use standardised/common jQuery frameworks

To find out more and see examples of jQuery in action, click here.

Further notes…

It’s also important to mention that there are various CSS methods which create drop down menus. I’ve used these on a few occasions and they work fine from an SEO point-of-view.

and finally…

Whilst Matt Cutts himself has said that using jQuery is OK, I’ve seen many examples where content has been stuffed, so I believe further work from an algorithmic point-of-view will be done to combat this.

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