Google May Allow Hiding Content Under a Z-Layer?

Nov 15, 2007 • 10:02 am | comments (6) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A Google Groups thread asks if there's any such penalty for using the z-index HTML attribute underneath images. Would that be deceiving the search engines if you're putting text underneath an image that is not apparent to the visitor?

Bergy from the Google Webmaster Central team says that it's not a bad practice:

So, the technique you've laid out here is neither good nor evil. ... [I]f the hidden content is a more-accessible-but-less-pretty version of the content that hides it--e.g. text behind an image containing those words--our quality measures should not mind. Of course, we suggest using the ALT and TITLE attributes of the IMG tag, which were designed for this very purpose (providing alternative text to replace images), but you are, of course, free to design your site as you see fit.

That's interesting, and it should help other web designers who are in a similar pickle. ;)

Either way, hopefully the quality measures really do not mind.

Forum discussion continues at Google Groups.

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Adrian Lee

11/15/2007 04:07 pm

Well that's not really anything new, it's just a more sensible answer than "no you're not allowed to do that" based purely on the fact that it 'could' be used to spam. If you're going to use z-index to hide a load of spammy text/links, I'd expect them to take the same view of it as with any other spammy hidden text. All he's saying is the technique per se isn't bad, and that it could have valid uses that aren't about spamming Google.

Kay Frenzer

11/15/2007 04:17 pm

If: Google wants to see what the user sees. Then: Why can't text that appears in Flash be placed in a div tag without penalty, in the same manner as z-index? Blitz does this, and blogs about it how successful they are, but I've also read that a site can be penalized for doing it. If it's the same exact content it should be deemed okay.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2007 04:29 pm

Logical but Google often won't say it like this.

stojaki reklamowe

11/16/2007 07:52 pm

theres no better way to test it :)


01/03/2008 09:50 am

Well its good to use text below the image or flash but it is not a good practice to hide that text. Also google is too smart even google is indexing the pages in swf files and there are many examples i have seen so the thing is indexing flash is easy but the problem is having them fully index the content within that flash file and associating it with the page it's on and getting that page to rank well. There are ways to optimize for flash pages though that have had good success without being black hat.


03/28/2010 05:24 am

i dont think you are allowed to yahoo says you aren't

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