How to Use Hidden Text Strategy for SEO
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Hidden text is widely known to be a black-hat practice hated by Google simply because it’s spammy and manipulative. It makes use of methods to primarily deceive the crawlers to hopefully make a page rank better.
What is Hidden Text?
Hidden text means that a webmaster intentionally hid text that isn’t visible for the visitors but crawlers could view it as being the actual content of the page. The reasoning behind this is because spammers and black-hat SEOs intended to take advantage of the simple ranking algorithm back in the day where they would create content meant to convert the users while serving a keyword-heavy and stuffed piece of content for the crawlers in hopes of making their page rank better.
Since the algorithm was very simple and straightforward back then, a lot of black-hat strategies came into fruition during that time. Hidden text is one of the more famous ones. It’s a simple act of deception that usually works if done properly. But the tactic isn’t applicable today since the algorithms have evolved to a much more complex and concept-focused approach than the simple and text-focused approach it used to take.
Strategies Making Use of Hidden Text for SEO
Many sites, both large and small, feature content that’s hidden behind a tab where it takes a click to be able to see the content. There is a difference between hidden text and content that is hidden behind a tab.
The difference is that the web page offers a visible signal to the user that there is more content and how to get it.
The signal is usually a phrase like, “Read more.” In the above scenario, the content is not visible but it’s also not hidden, either.It’s not hidden because the site visitor can access and see the content. Content is problematic when a site visitor cannot see it because it’s inaccessible.
Content that needs an extra click to view is fine.
That’s because the content isn’t hidden from users. It is still accessible to read. What is paramount is that what the user sees and what Google sees is an identical match. It’s the match between what users and search engines see and the availability of the content that makes hidden tabbed content a legitimate use case.
What does Google actually have to say about hidden text these days? After all, it has been quite a few years since it was a big problem, and most people have moved past the idea of using it.
Google’s official page is part of the quality guidelines and can be found here. For the sake of this post, I’ll summarize it for you.
- Hiding text and links on your site can be considered deceptive and is a violation of the webmaster guidelines. Methods of hiding text include matching font and background colors, placing an image over the text, using CSS to position text off-screen, setting font size to 1 or 0, or hiding a link by only linking a period or another small character.
- Not all hidden text is considered deceptive. Text hidden behind scripts or in Flash files can still be valuable to users.
- Google recommends any text hidden within a script or video should be posted as plaintext as well, using
The primary guideline is whether or not the text is visible on your site. In the case of a jQuery hidden DIV with an expand link, the text is made easily visible, and thus is not considered hidden. You’re doing it not to hide the text from users, but to make your user experience and your site design a little better.
One issue you may run into is the script you use hiding your text from users who don’t have scripts enabled. In this case, you will want to use the above
Why It’s Important to Use Hidden Content for SEO
It can actually be imperative to use hidden text and image content because today’s website visitor is likely to use a mobile device to read content.
It’s challenging to present content on a small screen while also making the web content easy to access, and the rest of the site only a few clicks away. Every opportunity to squeeze more information into a tiny screen size must be taken.
Hiding content within easily clicked icons makes the web page less cluttered, making it a better user experience. Creating a site that presents a quality user experience is increasingly important for SEO because Google tends to show sites that are popular with users and that users expect to see. By making the site less cluttered but easier to use contributes to making the site more popular.
Hidden text may have started as a spammy and manipulative tactic but with enough time and heart for innovation, it has become something useful for both the webmasters and the users. What do you think about hidden text? Do you use it on your website? Let me know in the comments below!