Is tabbed content SEO friendly in 2022?
As a web designer and digital marketer, I sometimes work with products that require content rich landing pages. Not only for on-page SEO purposes, but also because there is a lot a user needs to know about the product before buying it. If crucial information is not available, users won’t convert and bounce off to look for a substitute elsewhere.
However, putting a jumble of content on a landing page just so all the information is there won’t help. The result might as well be as bad as if you keep lengthy information off the page. Because apart from valuable content, design also plays a major role when it comes to converting a visitor into a customer. And if your content absorbs the design and your Call-to-Actions… well, let your landing page performance metrics tell you the rest.
The obvious solution to this question from a designer’s perspective is to tab content or place it within an accordion. The design will still be clean and all the necessary product information will be on the page. But a long-standing question remains:
Is tabbed content SEO friendly?
The answer is: Yes
Every Digital Marketer:
Let’s dig a little bit deeper though and find out why this question was, and still is confusing digital marketers. Until 2018, the Googlebot would crawl and index content from the desktop version of a landing page and did not consider content in tabs, because it was “hidden” to users. Hence, the answer to the question “Is tabbed content SEO friendly” used to be a clear “No, it’s not”.
With the rise of mobile usage however, it became more and more necessary (especially from a UX perspective) to find ways to display desktop content on small screens. The best solution for this from a designer’s perspective is to tab content or place information within accordions. Then, in 2018, Google announced their mobile-first indexing approach and every digital marketer became worried that their tabbed content might harm their company’s or clients’ rankings because some of the content was/is “hidden”. Still to this day there is an uncertainty about whether or not tabbed content is SEO friendly.
If you are asking yourself: “Will Google still index the page if my optimized content is hidden under the second tab?” or “Is tabbed content SEO friendly?” – I have good news for you. Yes, Google will index and rank your page. No, tabs and accordions are not negative SEO factors. No, Google will not devalue your content. And it’s not just me telling you this. Google employees have confirmed it on different occasions and over a couple of years:
While the good news is that Google makes no difference in crawling and indexing tabbed content, there’s also a downside to it. And that concerns search snippets. Search snippets only display the info that is visible to the user on-load. So if you are asking yourself:
Is tabbed content SERP snippet friendly?
The answer is: No
Every Digital Marketer:
John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed this during a webmaster hangout in May 2019 (34:55).
So what generally happens with content that is hidden behind a tab, is we will use it for indexing, we’ll use it for ranking. So that’s something from especially with the mobile first indexing, when we index the mobile version of the page, that’s not a problem. So it shouldn’t affect ranking but what will happen is we won’t show it as a snippet. In particular the snippet… We try to separate that out because if we show something in the snippet, it feels like we’re really promising the user that they’ll see this when they visit that page. So if we know that this is hidden by default then we won’t show it in the snippet. But from a ranking point of view, it’ll rank normally. So that should be fine.– John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
While you may argue that you can influence Google search snippets by creating proper meta titles and descriptions, an experienced digital marketer will tell you that you can only influence it to a certain extent. For example: Google may display a totally different meta description than you assigned to a landing page, based on the search query of a user. Or Google may choose to display your landing page in the search results as a different kind of search snippet. The good news here is though that a meta description is not a ranking factor.
If you want to avoid this conflict, make sure that crucial information will remain visible to the user on-load and tab less important information instead.
With the launch of mobile-first indexation, Google started treating tabbed content the same way as if it’s visible on-load. And while tabbed content is now SEO friendly in regards to ranking and indexation, it won’t be considered by Google when it comes to search snippets. Search snippets only present the data that will be visible to the user on-load.
But before you start going all crazy on building tabs and accordions now, please also keep in mind: Not only Google loves it when important information is visible on-load… the user does too.
I hope I was able to help you solve this mystery.
Let me know in the comments if you have questions. I’ll be happy to help you!