In a recent video, Matt Cutts, the head of the web spam team at Google, shared some insight into a question that I’ve always wondered about.
Expandable sections for content is common practice, especially on e-com sites that need to present large amounts of content in a format that is easier for the user to consume.
In his video, Matt conceded that there were good reasons to implement expandable content. However, if the purpose of doing this was to trick Google by obscuring content, then you would be breaking their guidelines.
Matt gave the example of how Wikipedia collapses their content on mobiles as someone doing it right:
Heres the video if you were interested in checking it out for yourself:
With SEO it is so easy to get swept up in paranoia. You are constantly reading on SEO discussion sites other peoples opinions. Which is great when you’re improving your own knowledge, but it becomes a serious problem when people read others opinions and interpret them as fact without even looking for proof that they are right.
In the past I have been told the most ridiculous things as facts by other people in the SEO industry. Often, this may even be in front of a mutual client.
This issue regarding hidden text is one of them. I have always maintained that a website should be designed for the user first and foremost, not a search engine. Otherwise, what would be the point of the UX process that we go through at Creative Jar? All our sites would just look like wikipedia if I was given free reign!
Fortunately for everyone, I’m not in control, which is why I work around the creative, UI and UX teams and don’t trample on their ideas. The debate over hidden text and SEO encapsulates this perfectly, the best user experience isn’t to bombard people with a massive wall of text. Instead you should present this on demand, only when they need it.
Which is why I’m glad that Matt has come out and finally spoken about this. From now on I won’t need to sit there defending our thoughts with someone who has swallowed someones unproved opinion as fact. Instead, I can simply show them this video and we can get on with delivering brilliant websites.
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