Until recently the SEO community had thought that Google
Playing the Accordion
There are many reasons to have some text hidden when your web page loads, but typically you do it to improve user experience. For example, if you have a page with instructions on how to get your health insurance there will be a lot of information. Some of that information might be for over 65s, and some for under 18s. It’s unlikely that the under 18 is going to be interested in reading about the over 65s options and vice versa. So you might choose to use an accordion, or a tab, to hide that information. Keeping your page nice and clean, and making it easier for someone to find their section and read what they want to read.
These types of device are particularly popular on Terms & Conditions pages, and FAQ pages, where you want to show your visitor that there’s a lot of information on offer, but you might not want them drowning in the details as soon as the page opens up.
Are They Crawled?
The assumption up to this point was that Google could see this content even though it had been “hidden” by the design of the page. So, you didn’t have to worry if you had most of the page’s content condensed because Google would be able to read it, and would rank the page based on all the text on the page.
However, according to a recent tweet from SEO expert Gianluca Fiorelli from Moz this does not appear to be the case. His tweet states that in at least two “authoritative cases” Google have not indexed content that has been hidden in these ways. Gary Illyes from Google tweeted back in response that the content should be fully considered when indexing but that there may be a “technical question” that limits the indexing process.
So, in short, the text should be read, but in some cases
Should I Hide It?
How should you proceed if you’re using these types of design tool to keep your web pages looking clean? Firstly we think you should make sure the page is optimized as best as possible ignoring the hidden text. Make sure your page has a relevant title tag and meta description. If your page doesn’t already have an introductory paragraph explaining the rest of the content, add one, and make sure that is optimized too. After you’ve done that you will need to dig into how the hidden content is “hidden” and see if that is crawlable or not. If you need help doing this, we would be happy to investigate for you.