Will Accordion, Peek-a-Boo, etc. hurt SEO, Google searches?

I have been told that use of stacks such as Accordion and Peek-a-Boo on my site is detrimental to Google search because their crawlers downgrade or ignore information that is hidden from sight, even if it is immediately available at the press of a button. I wonder if this is true and, if so, how big a deal is it? In any case, the primary information about the hidden content – its title – is always in plain site, in the headings. And you would think that since all the information is right there on the source page that the robots would just get it along with everything else. But what do I know? Not very damn much, on this subject. Would like to learn more, if anybody knows.

The content is still on the page and able to be seen by Google, so it will not effect SEO or Google Searches.

That is exactly what I thought and said. It’s all right there on the source page! But, apparently, some think that because it is “hidden” from viewers who do not push a button, Google discriminates against it. People are changing their websites, creating long rambling pages, to avoid this problem.

Yes there is some truth in what you’ve been told about hidden content being detrimental to search engines. But the impacts will vary, depending on your exact setup and the purpose for needing to hide the content.

Firstly if you are dynamically appending content into a page using Javascript (after the page has loaded), then there’s a strong possibly search engine spiders will not be able to see it. Simply because this content is outside of the normal page flow and requires some-sort of user interaction (like clicking a button) before it will show. Search engines cannot index Javascript code; so ultimately content being written into the page with things like jQuery .html() is very hard for search engines to see.

Secondly, expandable techniques (like accordions, read more links, toggles and modal windows) are typically okay to use, because the content is within the page source (normally just hidden with CSS or a negative position); thereby search engine spiders can still see it in your HTML. But (and this is very important) you must never ever manipulate search engines by ‘keyword stuffing’ or spamming search engines with hidden content (content hidden to human visitors). Search engine spiders are intelligent and will detect if they are being manipulated; ultimately resulting in your website plummeting off search results.

It’s very commonplace to have expandable content on websites. This ties-in closely with improving user experience and responsive design (which is something search engines like to see in websites). Providing the original content is within the normal page flow and you are not hiding content purposefully to manipulate search engines, then everything should be okay for you.

Another common example in RapidWeaver is to hide the site title and slogan in a theme with CSS and replace it with a logo image. Again search engines are normally okay with this, because they acknowledge there is a logo image within close proximity and the hidden H1 and H2 tags contain important information about the website (it’s name and tagline) which probably matches the browser window title or content / links elsewhere in the page that are human visible.

Thank you for that extensive and apparently quite knowledgeable reply. Makes complete sense to me. Certainly, everything I have added to my pages under Accordions and the like is right there on the source page, where it looks like any other text. . Thanks again.

@gary555 Yes you shouldn’t have any SEO issues with a simple accordion or tab stack. As you say, the page source code gives a reliable indication of what search engines will see. I just thought to topic was worthy of being expanded a bit further, as there are a couple of gotchas with hiding content or loading it in a non-standard way.

There’s a more detailed explanation here I found that might be of interest: