Hidden Content and Content Freshness: SEO Impacts

answering SEO questionsWe’re going to talk about some information given out by SEO expert and Google engineer, Matt Cutts today. As you know, he’s the go-to source for everything having to do with webspam and site optimization, so without further adieu, let’s discuss some questions and answers.

First up, a user wanted to know how Google treats hidden content that is only revealed when a visitor clicks a button to reveal it. Is it spammy?

Cutts points out that this kind of content is actually very common on the web. How often have you visited a store site and viewed a product where “more information” or “specifications” were hidden unless you clicked a button? That information drops down when you click it so the page isn’t cluttered and looks tidy. This is normal and shouldn’t affect SEO in any sort of negative way. Cutts says so long as the content is obviously useful and designed to be there for your visitors, you have nothing to worry about. Google can tell that this is important information.

He does give one caveat though: if you have a tiny button that a user can’t see or can barely see, that reveals many pages worth of content, then that might be grounds for penalization from Google. Doing something like that could be bad for SEO and result in a reduced ranking in the search results. Basically, don’t do it!

The second question we’re going to talk about today came from a user wanting to know how important the freshness of content is. That is, will a blog that’s updated regularly always rank more favorably than a business site that isn’t updated as often? Cutts’ answer relates to QDF or a query that deserves freshness. Basically, if someone searches for the term “earthquake” it’s likely that they want to know about an event that just happened. In that case, sites with the newest content will rank higher. However, if someone is searching for evergreen content, the freshness of the pages won’t matter much in the search results. In terms of SEO, freshness matters sometimes, but not all of the time. So, yes, updating your site often is a good idea, but it won’t necessarily mean a boost in the rankings if your site covers subject matter that is considered to be “evergreen.”

Hopefully these questions and answers will bring you that much closer toward becoming a webmaster expert!

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