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I have a two hidden divs before my main site content, one with the login form and another with the signup form. I then have login and signup buttons within the page that use JQuery to show or hide these divs. I like the effect this setup offers, dropping down from the top of the page and pushing the rest of the content down.

However, recently I have been getting serious about SEO and I am wondering if these divs have been affecting my SERP rankings. Basically, every non-logged page (everything bots see) has the same two display:none; divs at the top of the document flow. Is it bad? Should I re-engineer these forms and the way they are displayed?

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3 Answers 3

It is a potential problem. Google does not necessarily know they are hidden and sees them as page content. However, they are forms, so I imagine they might not count quite so highly regards ranking, but I/we don't know.

But in any case, there shouldn't be any reason why these forms can't be at the end of your HTML source and correctly positioned either with JavaScript or CSS when they are required.

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You may want to have a look at this question: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2417475/seo-does-google-bot-see-text-in-hidden-divs which is pointing to the Google Webmaster guidelines on the following text

Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

But I have also read that Google is able to process the javascript and understand the content. In the same field, this is why it may affect the SERP ranking because Google is really serious about cloaking if the web site is suspected to have a really different content for bots.

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That's useful. But I am not cloaking or serving bots different code. And the code itself contains very basic forms for signup and login. My only concern is really having the forms before actual on topic content. –  0pt1m1z3 Sep 27 '12 at 18:29

One of the main reasons that hidden content is problematic is that users may search for a part of that text, find your pages in our search results, and then upon clicking on the result, not find the content on the page itself. This is a bad user experience, and something we strive to avoid. To some extent, we do that by trying to recognize hidden content and treating it appropriately (not using it for web-search).

If the hidden content does not provide significant additional information (such as when it's just a login form), then it's very unlikely that users will search specifically for that information in web-search. In that regard, the scenario that you describe (a login form) would generally be unproblematic and not something I'd worry about.

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