At this year’s SMX Advanced in Seattle I asked Google’s Gary Illyes if “hiding” content behind a Read More button affects websites’ SEO.
His answer wasn’t surprising considering Google’s stance on user experience. This practice, which essentially directs users to click a button/link that says Read More or Read On to view the full content, does have an effect on sites’ SEO, including auto retailers using Dealer.com Websites. Specifically, Google does not index content hidden behind these buttons on desktop sites.
This is an important distinction. Since Google currently uses the desktop version of a website as the primary source of content for its index, it impacts a site’s visibility in search results. Until Google launches its new Mobile First Index (sometime in 2018), Dealer.com recommends that dealers refrain from hiding any content on the desktop version of their websites.
Compared to mobile, desktop screens have real estate to spare. There’s no reason to save space by hiding content behind click for more buttons. If anything, it can seem a little deceptive, and doing so just puts websites at an SEO disadvantage since Google won’t use this hidden content to evaluate quality, no matter how relevant it is to the end user.
On the other hand, Read More buttons on mobile are completely acceptable since it actually makes the user experience better, according to Illyes. Just remember that Google isn’t yet indexing mobile devices first.
Here are my recommendations regarding this issue with Google’s current desktop indexing:
Don’t use Read More buttons or links to hide content on desktop unless absolutely necessary.
If you do need to hide content due to widget size/location, only hide content that isn’t valuable for SEO purposes.
Get creative with page layouts*. For example, add a second hero widget to the bottom of the homepage so that you can display all of your written content.
Analyze and reduce content. If there are pieces of your content that aren’t beneficial to users or SEO, remove it.
Comments? Questions? Reach me by commenting below. Thanks!
Pete Bruhn is the product manager – website platform at Dealer.com
*OEM restrictions may prevent you from doing this.