Tabbed Content – To Tab or Not to Tab, That is the Question

There has always been a battle between the desires and needs of the Search Engine Optimiser and that of the Website Designer, one wants as many words as they get placed on the page (so that there is more text for Google to ‘chew on’ and so that more long tail phrases can be covered and captured), whilst the other wants the site to look good and not result in pages which consist of a ‘wall of text’, something that would surely put off most visitors.

SEO and tabbed content

It was thus with some relief that we all found that Google would index content ‘hidden’ by the use of Javascript (or other coding) in tabs or by other means and more importantly not consider this as cheating…

The basic concept is that the words ‘hidden’ by the tab code are actually always on the page (and can thus be read by Google’s spider), it is just that the user has to do something to reveal it.

All was well and good, suddenly the designer could incorporate these tabs and thus allow the SEO  / copywriter to write reams of text, all without destroying the look and feel of a site.

It really was the answer to everyone’s prayer, most importantly the visitor was going to end up happy as the hidden content made it more likely they would find the best page available (by influencing Google’s result in the right way) whilst then only presenting them with a sort of precis of the contents of the page. Of course this system also allowed them to delve as deep as they want into the detailed content on the page.

Of course, this was not a signal to all to start filling their pages with hidden text that was full of rubbish or badly worded text as that would be found by Google’s Panda, but for those trying to play the game properly it was, really good news.

Then came the rumours that Google was not going to index any text that was considered to be hidden, their reasoning being that if it was not actually visible that it would be misleading to their (Google’s) users. I never did really believe or understand that point of view as text that was ‘hidden’ below the fold (and thus requiring the user to scroll down) was just an invisible, but it was for a while worrying for both the SEO and designer communities.

Now, the latest news is more hopeful and also more believable and logical, as now Google are saying that they will index hidden text, but only if it is not dynamically generated. In other words the words have to coded into the page, and not ‘called in existence’ once that page is visited.

It is possible that the hidden text will be deemed slightly less important than any text that is seen to be on the page all the time, but, I am not sure of this and in any case if the use of tabbed content allows the SEO professional, the designer, Google and most importantly the user all to be happy then that is good enough for me.

Read on for more detail on this interesting subject…



Google: We Won’t Index Dynamic Content Behind Tabs

The topic of hidden content in tabs is something we’ve covered a few times.

In short, Google’s John Mueller said several-months ago that Google won’t index the content found within hidden tabs. But SEOs and Webmasters said they would. It might be more that they weight that content less than visible content.

But this morning, Gary Illyes added a bit more detail on this at Stack Overflow saying that Google “won’t see the content behind tabs iff the content under the tab is dynamically generated (i.e. not just hidden).”

That means that when you click the tab, then the content first starts to be rendered, Google won’t see it.

This question comes around using Bootstrap tabs to dynamically generated content in those tabs on click.

Gary Illyes from Google said:


No, we (Google) won’t see the content behind tabs iff the content under the tab is dynamically generated (i.e. not just hidden).


You can also see what we “see” using Fetch as Google in Search Console (former Webmaster Tools); read more about the feature in our post titled Rendering pages with Fetch as Google.