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Having anchor text in the main nav linking to a page is SEO best practice but, if a developer was to 'hide' the text by setting the CSS text indent to -9000px, would this be seen as hiding the text similar to display: hide?

Could moving the text off screen be an SEO workaround to not having text in the nav?

I'm interested in the SEO impact rather than UX as this is a hypothetical question.

  • Hiding something can be valid for somethings, however, it is an old SEO manipulation trick and should be avoided except where necessary for functionality. Google checks the HTML DOM, CSS, then renders the page. This means that it is relatively trivial to compare the original HTML with the results. It is something I would avoid doing as a practice. Cheers!! – closetnoc Feb 10 '17 at 16:36
  • Why is not having text in the main nav linking page bad for SEO? I make sure there is a page title, a header, and text on the page, but I wouldn't worry much about having text in the nav. – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 10 '17 at 17:45
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If you hide only one anchor text with any dirty css trick, then it is fine. Such a thing won't impact in seo, unless webmaster main AIM is not about manipulating search ranking.

Search engine bot also use similar webkit like our browser use, so if browser don't see nav link then Googlebot will also not see. But Google sometimes come with different user agent and IP address to check weather any webmaster doing some nasty things or not, like blocking main googlebot and show different things to user (i.e. doing cloaking) so Google sometimes come with different setting. They might come with text based browser as well like lynx, which they said many times in old days, so still they may be use that kind of browser webkit to check cloaking or spamming.

Normally Google don't do anything if only few portion of webpage is change, but when they see totally different things then manually/automatically they gives penalty to webmaster if they think it manipulate their search ranking, but as you said, it is just one anchor text in navbar, so it won't impact in SEO.

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I found that this is against Google Guidelines and shouldn't be done. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66353

Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:

  • Using white text on a white background
  • Locating text behind an image
  • Using CSS to position text off-screen
  • Setting the font size to 0
  • Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that's not easily viewable by visitors of your site. Are any text or links there solely for search engines rather than visitors?

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