January 30, 2013
I have a question that I am not sure about.
Is using hidden text within class tags ideal for SEO, or should it be avoided? I'm not clued up on AJAX or toggles, so I'm not sure if this is something to avoid or not.
I think that you're referring more to what I would call "semi-hidden text." That is, text that a typical user doesn't see at first; in order for it to appear, the user must click some link or button. For instance, I've seen many product pages where some of the product information is displayed initially, but to read the rest, the user must click a plus sign or a "more" link.
If this is what you mean, then technically it shouldn't be a problem for Google. When done correctly, all of the content (even that within the "more" section) will be read and indexed. Unfortunately, some sites have abused this way of coding a page in that they've made visible text that is good for the user, but then added a bunch of keyword-stuffed text in the area that the user needs to click in order to see it.
Because of this, I'd be very careful using this sort of code on your pages. Determine if there's a good reason why you don't want to just show all the information at once. Personally, I think most people prefer it that way. I know I don't always see those plus signs, and often think that the small amount of information is all there is. This practice usually occurs because someone at the company (or, very often, the website designer) prefers a sparse-looking page. Or they think too much text will be daunting. While this may or may not be true in your case, if you have no compelling reason for using the semi-hidden text, I'd recommend against it. While correlation is by no means causation, semi-hidden text was a common factor I noted on many sites that lost a lot of Google traffic in the original Panda update.
If, for whatever reason, you are stuck using this design technique, then at least make sure you're not stuffing it full of keywords or doing anything else that could in any way be construed as web spam.
Hope this helps!
Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen
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