The other day, I covered a thread around click to expand content not being indexed or ranked by Google. So I decided to ask John Mueller of Google that question in a live hangout on Google+ about a week ago and I was a bit surprised by his response.
In short, he said content within "click to expand" menus or "tabs" may be "discounted" since Google knows you are hiding it from users. Google may not rank the page for the content within those sections because Google knows users do not see the content by default.
Here are two examples of tabbed content from major e-commerce sites, B&H Photo and AJ Madison:
Seems like Google is saying the content within these tabs will be discounted.
Amazon use to use a lot of tabs but now they seem to output most of the content directly on the page, making the user scroll and scroll to see the content.
Google's own help documents does use click to expand but only to see the questions. Clicking on a question itself does bring the user to a new page, with the answer listed, as opposed to the answer beneath the question - as you may see in click to expand content:
John answered this question at 10 minutes and 55 seconds into the video:
Here is the transcript:
I think to some extent, we've been doing that for quite awhile now.
So I saw your blog post about that, and I sent the team that works on this a short email before the Hangout, but I didn't hear back from them on time to actually have a definitive answer for you there.
But I think we've been doing something similar for quite awhile now, where if we can recognize that the content is actually hidden, then we'll just try to discount it in a little bit. So that we kind of see that it's still there, but the user doesn't see it.
Therefore, it's probably not something that's critical for this page. So that includes, like, the Click to Expand. That includes the tab UIs, where you have all kinds of content hidden away in tabs, those kind of things. So if you want that content really indexed, I'd make sure it's visible for the users when they go to that page.
From our point of view, it's always a tricky problem when we send a user to a page where we know this content is actually hidden. Because the user will see perhaps the content in the snippet, they'll click through the page, and say, well, I don't see where this information is on this page. I feel kind of almost misled to click on this to actually get in there.
So that's kind of the problem that we're seeing. And some of that-- I think we've been picking up on that for quite some time now to kind of discount that information. It might be that we've gone a little bit further now to actively ignore the information that's not directly visible.
And Barry, I'll get back to you on the Click to Expand stuff to see if we have something more specific that I can tell you.
John never did get back to me.
Forum discussion at Google+.