As hidden text (hidden text), any text applies on a website that the browser is invisible and the users of search engines robots, however, recognized. This is used, for example, to hide keywords. Hidden text falls under the category of hidden content, which includes both hiding text and words and hiding links on a website.
What is the goal of hidden texts?
According to phonecations.com, Keywords can be accommodated in the hidden text without affecting the design of a website. This means that hidden texts are used with the intention of achieving a better placement for certain search terms in the search results. Because search engine crawlers can read and capture hidden texts.
In the early years of search engine optimization, i.e. at the end of the 90s / beginning of the new millennium, this procedure in the form of white text on a white background was very widespread. Placement outside the visible area of a website was also very popular. Not only were keywords that were thematically related to the page hidden, but sometimes also text that had nothing to do with the actual content of the page and was only intended to attract visitors via these keywords.
Hidden text – an attempt at spam by Google
What worked in earlier SEO times to influence the ranking is now classified by search engine operators as a spam measure. It’s against Google’s webmaster guidelines:
Hiding text or links in your content with the aim of influencing the ranking in Google search results can be viewed by Google as a deception and thus a violation of the guidelines for webmasters.
Other quality guidelines on the topic: Hidden Text and Hidden Links
Google can then remove the pages from the search engine index or impose a penalty on them.
Hide text for better website access
In the quality guideline article just mentioned, however, it can also be seen that texts may be hidden if they serve to improve access to your website. This is the case, for example, when visitors with visual impairments access a page using a screen reader. These visitors can receive additional descriptions, for example to make navigation easier or to recognize jump links.
How can you hide text?
Texts can be made invisible on a website by the following means, among others:
- Text in the same color as the website background
- Text in the same color as an image
- Commands in CSS code that prevent the text from being displayed, such as visibility: hidden; or display: none;
- Place text behind an image
Expandable text vs. hidden text
Basically, the texts are also hidden on a website, which only become visible or unfold when a button or tab is clicked. This procedure is called “click to expand”. The respective buttons often have labels such as “Continue reading”, “More” or “Details”.
However, there are two “types” of hidden text to be distinguished:
- Text that is hidden for usability reasons- is very often used by online shops, for example to place information on technical details, applications or matching products behind tabs.
- Text that is hidden in order to show the user only part of it, while a much larger text is hidden behind “Next” or the like, only to provide the search engine with more text content that is supposed to improve the ranking.
There is also a video message from Matt Cutts:
Here it becomes clear that Google sees no problem in hiding the texts behind tabs in order to make the product view more user-friendly. This “hiding” structures the information, makes it clearer and therefore easier for the user to understand – and that is exactly the goal of Google.
This measure is only classified as spam if long texts are hidden behind the button, which may also be overcrowded with keywords (keyword stuffing). Because here you can clearly see the intention that the hidden texts only serve the ranking.