Google’s crawlers will no longer demote content that is typically hidden behind tabs, clicks or accordions for improved user experience when it comes to mobile web. This change in content crawling practices by Google’s search bots is representative of the company’s on-going commitment to cater to an increasingly “mobile-first” digital environment.
Google’s Gary Ilyes confirmed this on Twitter when a question regarding crawling habits of Google’s search bots was posed with a specific reference to hidden content.
Desktop pages which hide content behind tabs, clicks, or accordions have mostly been demoted by Google. With mobile however, user experience is a top priority. Hence sites often use tabs to hide content which can always be expanded if the user wants to access the information featured in the accordion tabs. The limited space of mobile screens make this a convenient aspect of optimizing on space without impacting the actual content.
Now with the new change, site owners will no longer have to worry about Google’s search crawlers which otherwise would “actively ignore” hidden or click-to-expand content.
If site owners do decide to hide their content for usability reasons, content ranking will not be an area of big concern as long as care is taken to implement it correctly so users can still view it when they land on a mobile page that uses tabs. However, it is important to note that hidden content which is not accessible to users goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
The best way to deal with this would be ensure that technical audits are carried out, and other aspects of tabbed content are carefully considered and implemented.
For now, site owners can take comfort in the fact that click-to-expand content is no longer a part of negative SEO.