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Adaptive websites - considered keyword stuffing by Googlebot?

I work on a SEO-dependent content website, and we are in the process of making our site adaptive/responsive (what are adaptive websites?). More technically, we are using CSS media queries to apply different CSS styles as the size of the browser changes.

As the browser size shrinks to 320x480 and below (mobile), we use CSS to hide much of the content on the page - up to 75% of it.

My question is - would Googlebot consider this practice keyword stuffing? My worry is that Googlebot may think we are stuffing the page with keywords to make the page relevant, but then hiding the keywords with CSS.

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migrated from ux.stackexchange.com Jan 1 '12 at 12:51

This question came from our site for user experience researchers and experts.

marked as duplicate by Su', John Conde Jan 1 '12 at 19:56

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this question belongs to Webmasters, not related to UX whatsoever –  Naoise Golden Dec 30 '11 at 2:25
    
@naoise yes, strictly speaking i agree with you. adaptive website design is a topic of discussion in the UX community, and so I figured that although the question is not 100% a UX question, the community may appreciate the discussion around SEO implications of a design practice. –  Raj Dec 30 '11 at 4:40
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Please don't use url shorteners. As a rule I don't click links if I can't see where they take me. And it's not like you don't have enough space here to provide the full url –  Marjan Venema Dec 30 '11 at 9:54
    
Post about SEO+UX. I still think it is far-fetched. –  Naoise Golden Dec 30 '11 at 10:19
    
@Raj buttons are also a topic of discussion in UX... and Webmasters, and Stackoverflow, and Electronics. –  Naoise Golden Dec 30 '11 at 11:16

3 Answers 3

From what I understand, after some years of experience in SEO, hiding content with CSS won't help OR hurt you, beyond the ding you get for slower load time. They will index the content, but I don't think it affects your google pagerank.

However, if you are building mobile viewable websites, then just build a mobile version of your site and be done with it. A super flexible "can view anywhere" site is awesome in theory, but ultimately you're going to have to make sacrifices in usability for one group to satisfy requirements for another. To me that is unacceptable when you can build two very nice websites instead of one mostly nice website.

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... what? If you try to take an existing full page design and transform it to be responsive, there's a good chance it'll be "mostly nice" - but if you design it with the different viewports in mind from the outset, you can easily create one very nice and much more maintainable website that ultimately serves more people in a better way. Responsive is critical to UX, not the opposite. –  melee Dec 30 '11 at 2:40
    
@kort-pleco thanks for the reply. do you have any insight into whether our approach may be considered black hat by googlebot? i'm not sure how exactly they define keyword stuffing. And just FYI, we're pursuing a "mobile first" approach to our site's design, so we're conscious about choosing the most important elements of the page and addressing usability issues related to them. melee is right in that it is possible to create a great experience on multiple screen sizes, but I'd like the cost here is the upfront design work you need to put in. –  Raj Dec 30 '11 at 4:42
    
I'd like to add that the cost here* –  Raj Dec 30 '11 at 4:48
    
'A super flexible "can view anywhere" site is awesome in theory, but ...'. I would you to visit this post and contribute whatever insights you may have gained for our benefit. [ux.stackexchange.com/questions/15405/… Thanks. –  Kris Dec 30 '11 at 7:46
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I have to agree with melee. In this instance you may design a responsive UI, but consider other aspects of UX. Hiding up to 75% of content means that users on mobile devices will have download up to 4x more content than they need, on usually slower connection and when bandwith is usually at the premium. Not great UX. –  Juozas Kontvainis Dec 30 '11 at 10:24

Google has officially stated that they try to look at the intent when you hide text. If the site doesnt try any other spammy seo tricks there should be no problem. You are in fact showing the content for most of your visitors and are trying to give the mobile visitors a better experience.

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I'll ask a question in return: If you're hiding up to 75% of the content on the mobile device, how important is that content really? Perhaps the solution isn't to hide anything, but bring in some good content strategy/copyediting/writing processes. Maybe cutting the content on the main site by half, and increasing the content a little bit on mobile will meet you in the middle with the same content in both places. That sounds like the better UX for all users.

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