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Short version

Can I move around content (text and links) with Javascript without affecting my rank in Google?

Long version

Menu with links push down my content

I have a menu (with tabs) run with jQuery UI Tabs. That menu contains 30-50 internal links. Without Javascript it will show all of my links which will push my content down.

I've read that It's good to have the content early in the code.

Shuffle things around with Javascript

I'm thinking of adding the menu HTML below the content. That way it will almost look like a sitemap or related links with Javascript turned off.

After that I will with jQuery (Javascript) remove the menu HTML and insert it in a new div before the content.

CSS position absolute is not an option

Because I use tabs that have auto height I can't use CSS position absolute.

Question: Does that affect the SEO in a bad way, or is it fine to do that? Is there a better way?

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've read that It's good to have the content early in the code.

Where have you read this? It has no much sense.

Infact, Google (and I think all the other S.E.s) are able to recognise the template of a website and so, they will pay more attention to (what they recognised as) the content section of each page. It's true, for example, that they pay a (very) little less attention to the footer than the "content section" but of course don't matter where you put the menu and how many links are in that menu. Indeed, if you have pages that have several internal links it's a good pratice. The S.E.s pay more attention to those pages that have several internal links than the others because they interpret this as a sign of importance.

So, in conclusion, you don't have to worry about change the position of your menu.

Just to be honest I have not given any reference because I forgot where I have read this fact. Anyway I'm almost sure that it was on the matt cutts blog or this book "The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization".

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Here is my source to where I've read it: dionesku.com/… "Translating these principles in a real case scenario, it means that a site whose pages markup is filled at the beginning with menus, advertising, links, statistics and any other secondary data and has the main content of the pages placed only after these will lose a lot of the search engine ranking in front of another site that has the main content placed at the beginning (top) of the markup and the secondary content after." –  Jens Törnell Oct 13 '11 at 15:55
@JensTörnell Thanks for the reference. I read the article and I see several deficiences. First of all the author says those things without giving to his readers nor evidence neither experimental results. Besides, he missed any reference on the main sentence so I deduce it's his opinion or he listen this fact to someone and then he wrote the article. –  Aurelio De Rosa Oct 13 '11 at 17:52
@AurelioDeRosa to be fair, you don't appear to have left any references or experimental results, either. I agree with your answer, though, FWIW. –  kojiro Oct 14 '11 at 13:12
@kojiro You're right. Indeed I searched the reference but to be honest I've forgotten where I've read this. If I'm not wrong it has been written here: "The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization" or here mattcutts.com. –  Aurelio De Rosa Oct 14 '11 at 13:27
I work together with the web-search team at Google. There's no need to remove "cruft" above your primary content. Google is pretty good at recognizing and skipping over things like that (provided the actual content is within something like the first few MBs or so of the page, so not something the average site needs to worry about). I'd worry more about using JQuery for navigation, if that's the only form of navigation on your pages :). Google is pretty good at parsing JavaScript, but not all other search engines can do that, so it usually makes sense to use static HTML where possible. –  John Mueller Oct 15 '11 at 16:41
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As AurelioDeRosa stated, search engines are perfectly able to find your page content. The myth you've read dates back to the early days when Google would only index the first 100KB of a page (roughly 100,000 characters). That's no longer the case so it makes little difference where the content is in the HTML.

Regarding the Javascript thing, as a general rule moving things around won't harm SEO, because the content is still there without Javascript and search engines can see it. If it helps usability to do that then do so.

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Do you have a source that says it's a myth or is it a guess? You might be right. I just want to be sure before I accept an answer. –  Jens Törnell Oct 14 '11 at 17:15
@Jens It's a fact that Google used to only index 100KB of a page, and that now they index all of a page (or at least significantly more than 100KB). GWT video: youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp#p/u/71/l6g5hoBYlf0 –  DisgruntledGoat Oct 15 '11 at 0:21
There's also an interesting (and older & obsolete) article about these limits at sitepoint.com/indexing-limits-where-bots-stop –  John Mueller Oct 15 '11 at 16:49
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