Why Tabbed Content Can Hurt Your Rankings

There’s really nothing better than when a website’s content is neat and tidy, at least from a design standpoint. The white space and perfectly boxed paragraphs make for a better, more enjoyable user experience. To accomplish the clean-cut feel, many times the content is put behind tabs that say, “Read More” and “Continue.” But is tabbed content really a good idea? We found that putting content behind tabs may be hurting your website’s Google rankings.

 

Tabs are usually created with JavaScript. Site crawlers have a difficult time understanding the code and they seem to see it as a barrier. It’s like reading a story in a magazine that asks you to turn to the back of the publication smack in the middle. Do you turn the multiple pages to finish? Only if it’s easy to find. Having to search for the story, especially if there aren’t obvious markers as to where it picks back up, can be off-putting, and it interrupts the flow of the article. Sure, the content is still there, but you’ve just spent five minutes trying to find it. That’s five minutes you could have spent reading, and perhaps finishing, the story. Are you even still interested in how it ends? The same is true with site crawlers. Once they get past the code they don’t understand, if they do, the story has basically become irrelevant.

 

There’s a fundamental principle in play that has always been a part of how your page will rank in Google. The core content must be visible when the page loads for the best user experience. And, Google does index the content after the JavaScript tabs, but it is given less weight because it’s hidden. After all, Google’s goal is to have their user experience as satisfying as possible. They want their users to find exactly what they’re looking for without any extra effort. So, they’re much less likely to promote any content that’s not going to be on the page when the user clicks through. The rumor is that Google is working on a solution for this sort of problem, to mixed reviews.

 

If you want to know what your website looks like to Google’s site crawlers, you can check it out in the Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google. You will get a side-by-side comparison of what the Google site crawlers see and what a visitor sees. Then, if you scroll down, you will see what items the google bots aren’t crawling. Often, those are sidebar ads.

 How Can You Make Sure Google Indexes Your Content?

If you want to fix the tabbed content so that Google indexes it, you have two options:

  1. Put your most important content above the tab
  2. Get rid of the tabbed content altogether and make all of the content visible to visitors.

Either way, it’s necessary to revisit and make sure your site’s content is keyword-rich and re-submit to Google. Don’t forget that it can take a few days for the site crawlers to index the new or updated information.

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