BrightHaus Digital Marketing Agency

Using Expandable Menus for Content

July 24, 2013

I recently had a web developer ask if using expandable menus to “hide” text on a webpage was an acceptable practice. In this particular case, their client felt that a big block of content on the landing page took away from the visual appeal of that page and a compromise was reached with the developer to have the bulk of the text hidden using JavaScript expandable sections. But would “hiding” the text in an expandable section in turn keep that text invisible from Google and potentially hurt the site from an SEO standpoint?

Quite serendipitously, Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts addressed this concern in his latest video:

As Cutts points out, expandable menus are very common on the web and are a perfectly acceptable practice, as long as they aren’t hiding text in a deceptive or spammy way. An example of a deceptive or spammy practice would be a hard-to-find button on a webpage that opens up an expandable menu that has pages upon pages of keyword stuffed content. In other words, as with all things Google, content should be geared towards users and providing a quality user experience. Make sure your content sounds natural and is not stuffed to the gills with keywords.

There are several benefits to having expandable menus or sections. On an aesthetic level, expandable menus can add to the visual appeal of a website by not overwhelming the user with too much text. Another benefit is expandable sections allow you to conserve space and make onsite navigation easier. For example, entries on Wikipedia’s mobile site have a lot of content and expandable menus allow users to go to the sections they want without having to scroll through a ton of content.

According to Cutts, expandable menus are not something to stress out about and as long as you adhere to Google’s webmaster guidelines, “you’ll be in good shape.”

Brian Carver is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.