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How search engines treat hidden or click-to-expand content

This is something you should be aware of if you’re using Webflow’s tabs or interactions, such as click to expand. If you want to rank your site in Google, it looks like using these may be a bad choice going forward.

It now looks like content that isn’t immediately visible to the user will be (and has been for a while) discounted or ignored by Google. This is very frustrating because there are some really nice things you can do with interactions, and sometimes it’s better for UX to hide certain content when the page first loads.

For a long time Google’s own advice has been to ‘build websites for users, not search engines’, but it looks like that’s gone out the window if you need to show everything that you want indexed on load.


Totally agree. I didn’t know about this Google predilection - thank-you!

Yeah, I ever use expand content to rank my site in google and I make effort for long but it works not well. So my site is still on a low-rank status. I think what you said is really helpful to whom are doing SEO for their site.

Hi @rugged, thanks for sharing the information. I think one of the suggestions on that info article is a good one, and that is to make sure to sign-post your content and make sure the titles of your interactions give a good summary title of what the content hidden by an interaction is, so that you will have better chances at faring with Google search results. This is, I believe, behavior common to any website using display:none on their content. You might also try experimenting with setting up your interactions to change an element from opacity 0% to opacity 100% instead of display:none to some other display state. That might help too.

I hope that helps, cheers, Dave

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Good suggestions in there @cyberdave, thanks! I think it’s definitely worth testing the opacity idea although Google is probably smart enough to work out that the content is hidden.

Hey guys, Just wanted to add a few things to this thread:

(1) The video of the Google Hangouts session on Nov 17, 2014 where this information was discussed originally can be found here: (The question gets answered at 11:00 into the video)

(2) Google also talks about this in their webmaster tools docs here:

(3) An example of designing websites for your visitors using good “click to expand” techniques can be found here:

As in any design (regardless of search engine indexing) you should always try to show the important content when visitors arrive. I don’t agree with Google 100% of the time, but websites where critical content is hidden inside a tab, slider, etc is bad practice in any context. It may look awesome, but sometimes it’s better to show the content that your visitors “need” to see and hide secondary content instead.


Part of what I’m concerned about is

  • who determines what “critical” is.

The other part is

  • what they do with the conclusion.

Think Contractor - Painter

All the data in the following example is critical
… but better organized into Tabs.

Tab 1 displaying List of Recent Homes (Residential) they painted
Tab 2 displaying List of Recent Business (Commercial) they painted

Both are important - both are critical. Both are real.

I have a painting company I am working right now…

  • so this is a real issue for me.

For the time being, I have moved their data into separate pages

  • even though it makes sense “data and visual wise” to use Tabs.

And - to be honest… placing them on separate pages “is better when considering SEO”

  • if you structure it correctly.

I already know what Google should / would do with data on difference pages.

I also know what Google will do with all the data on 1 page.

How do you think Google would handle this issue with the tabs.

I wonder if the transition and configuration for a tabs component could be handled as a single scroll of content with a mask / overflow hidden and no scroll bars using anchors rather than hiding the content (a sprite approach to html). That is - fade out (or fade cover for smooth transition) > jump content Y-axis to next anchor or height multiple on tab click > fade in. Would it make a difference? It seems like it would follow the rules and would be a reasonably simple implementation. Doable with Webflow IX as is, but anchor support would make it easier. – And obviously a component would be the best approach.

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I built two versions of a basic scroll based tabs module using Webflow interactions. One version fades and the other scrolls. Were super easy to set up. Gotta love Webflow IX. Cloneable files:

tabs module scrolling version

tabs module fading version



Very nice @vlogic. I like both versions.

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@vlogic Hey Robert I was hoping you could clarify your reply. Will these implementations make the content inside tabs visible to search engines or are you just showing two different approaches to scrolling on tabs?

@mrgovindrai, I have absolutely no idea what algorithm Google will choose to define the rules for hidden content and how it is weighed or if hidden content will be included in any form. As you can tell from the video that William posted it is anyones guess - Google wasn’t defining the rules much at that time. I haven’t seen any additional info on this since. It may be worth a quick search to see how it shook out?

This was just a quick stab at an alternate method that uses scroll and overflow hidden based on alternatives. The IX is simply scrolling or jump navigating a long strip of content on the y-axis as an alternative to manipulating / toggling visibility.

It would be interesting to find out if overflow hidden is currently included and indexed. I imagine any work around would only a temporary solution as Google will just deploy a smarter bot :slight_smile: If they can detect above the fold or first view then I imagine they can also detect in-view. The question is have they yet?