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"hidden Text"?


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12 replies to this topic

#1 shimlad

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:57 AM

I'm struggling to work out if a page layout on one of our competitors is using could be classed as spam or not.

On their main pages they have two paragraphs of text, the page is designed so that half way through the first paragraph the text is cut off and there is a "read more" button. If you click the read more button the whole text appears and pushes the rest of the page down.

This way the text is still visible to search engines, but doesnt push the rest of the page content down (hotel listings). Although users can still read it if they click the read more button.

I think they are using an invisible scroll bar and a fixed height container.

What do people think to this?

#2 chrishirst

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:01 AM

If the text can be made visible to real users, it's not spam.

#3 chrishirst

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:07 AM

BTW

You can't have "invisible" scroll bars. biggrin.gif

If I wanted to do that I would set a fixed height/max-height and overflow: hidden; then toggle the height and overflow values with the onclick handler.

But that's just second guessing without seeing code.

#4 Mikl

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 06:08 AM

What you describe is not at all unusual. I have something similar on one of my sites. It's certainly never been penalised by the engines (as far as I can tell).


#5 Jill

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 08:47 AM

It's a common design technique these days. There are few things to think about in terms of whether the search engine might think it was spammy or not:
  • Is the "hidden" text when visible, keyword stuffed and/or unintelligible or not adding any additional value to the user?
  • Is it in the same font size, look and feel as the rest of the text on the page (as opposed to it being in a tiny box, or with a tiny font, etc.)
  • Is the means for making it visible obvious to the average user?

As long as you can pass those tests, it shouldn't technically be a problem. That's not to say that it couldn't inadvertently be assumed to be hidden text due to the type of code possibly being abused by web spammers in the past, however.

#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:26 PM

Google's Maile Ohye discussed hidden text on her blog last year where she advised people against using certain styling techniques such as negative text-indent, margins, etc.

The rule of thumb for staying within Google's tolerance seems to be that if you can read all the text in a text-only browser (such as the UNIX Lynx browser) or if a text-to-speech browser can get to all the text, you're probably safe. Hence, any accessibility-compliant styling technique for overlaying text on the page should be okay.

#7 shimlad

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:22 AM

The code my competitor is using that i am thinking of using looks a bit like this:

<div id="hoteldesc">

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec commodo, dolor ac fringilla vulputate, ipsum nibh ullamcorper leo, nec ultricies elit erat lobortis diam. Sed arcu ante, ornare quis tincidunt vel, accumsan eget purus. Phasellus blandit tempor eros, vel tincidunt massa luctus a. Cras id velit felis. Ut in tortor non dui luctus facilisis. Suspendisse et urna vel enim sodales cursus non nec ante. Nulla nunc nisi, mattis eget placerat vel, facilisis et enim. Mauris lobortis risus quis quam convallis eu dictum enim rutrum. Duis a nisi lorem. Cras mauris ante, consectetur nec ornare nec, tempus sagittis sapien. Proin aliquet, erat quis euismod egestas, urna nisi volutpat augue, in placerat libero diam quis velit. Pellentesque quam sem, blandit ac ullamcorper ornare, faucibus vehicula massa. Aenean imperdiet iaculis hendrerit. Nam neque lectus, condimentum a suscipit bibendum, faucibus et arcu. Nam sed dolor arcu. Donec vehicula pulvinar varius. Nulla facilisi. In diam odio, sollicitudin eu consectetur vel, consequat ut massa. Sed arcu felis, convallis eget hendrerit mollis, viverra nec mi. Suspendisse enim enim, euismod ut fermentum ut, aliquam non metus.

</div>

<a id="moreless" href="java script:void(0);"></a>

<div id="roll">

what do people think to that?



#8 Michael Martinez

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 12:52 PM

Look at the "text-only version" in Google cache and if you see all the text then it's probably not something to be concerned about.

#9 shimlad

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 03:25 AM

thank you, all the text is showing so looks ok. theswim.gif

#10 fine0023

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 02:57 PM

QUOTE
The rule of thumb for staying within Google's tolerance seems to be that if you can read all the text in a text-only browser (such as the UNIX Lynx browser) or if a text-to-speech browser can get to all the text, you're probably safe.


QUOTE
Look at the "text-only version" in Google cache and if you see all the text then it's probably not something to be concerned about


I went in Webmaster Tools and did "Fetch as Googlebot" and the text I was concerned about being considered hidden did appear. Does this mean I am okay? Is this what you meant by "text-only version in Google cache? How do I get the UNIX Lynx browser?

#11 Michael Martinez

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:05 PM

QUOTE(fine0023 @ Jul 5 2011, 12:57 PM) View Post
I went in Webmaster Tools and did "Fetch as Googlebot" and the text I was concerned about being considered hidden did appear. Does this mean I am okay? Is this what you meant by "text-only version in Google cache? How do I get the UNIX Lynx browser?


I was not thinking of "fetch as Googlebot" or anything within Webmaster Tools.

If you take the URL of the page and search on it with the CACHE: query operator (do NOT insert a space between the colon and the URL), if Google returns a cache result for you then click on "Text-only version" in the upper right-hand corner.

It may be that "fetch as Googlebot" may be a good enough test if you see the text as a plain-view user would. It's been a while since I've played with that feature.

#12 Jill

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:10 PM

No I dont think fetch as googlebot tells you any more than whether they can index the URL.

#13 chrishirst

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 03:03 AM

Just use WebBug and use that to see what bots see.




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