If you hide text from page visitors and only let search engines see it, you engage in an old, spammy technique.
While this is true, there are a few ways to hide content that are Google approved. If you plan to hide content, making sure you follow Google's guidelines is a must.
The SEO benefits can increase engagement, make your site more popular, and have more pages crawled.
Hidden Text Defined
In the early days of search engines, hiding text was something many people did to help their site rank better. However, today, done incorrectly, it's viewed as a spam technique.
During the early days of search engines, simple text matching algorithms were used. This meant a site could publish content for visitors and hidden text for the search engines. The goal of the hidden text was to help a site rank higher in SERPs and, in many cases, consisted of keywords repeated on the page. With this being done, spammers could create long essays for the search engines.
On the other hand, people visiting the page would receive a conversion-optimized page that would not rank in the search engines on its own.
How Not to Use Hidden Text on Your Website
In the past, several methods were used to hide text. A common method was using a white color font on white backgrounds and adding the font to the bottom of the page. Spammers would also create pages that had the content to off-screen, to the far right. This means visitors didn't see the content.
Another method was adding an image over the hidden text. Cloaking was also used when search engines were identified and showed different content. This was the most sophisticated method.
Hiding Content Without Violating Google's Rules
This is acceptable if the content is hidden behind "read more" links to make it visible on the page. If users can see it, so can Google. Tabbed content is also fine. Google will index content hidden behind accordion tabs. Also, this content isn't devalued in any way.
Hidden Content and SEO
It's important to use hidden text and image content since most website visitors are on mobile devices when viewing web pages. It's difficult to show content on smaller screens while ensuring it's easy to get to and the remainder of the site.
It's important to use the opportunities you have to fit more content onto small screens. Using hidden content with icons that can be clicked makes your web page less cluttered and provides a better user experience.
Ensuring your site provides a good user experience is more important to SEO than ever. That's because Google wants to display sites that users want to see.