Only uses DIVs poorly

Is display: none bad for SEO?

In web designer circles one hears again and again of the discussion whether the CSS command "display: none" is good or bad for SEO. Some web designers or hobby web designers try everything possible to prevent the use of "display: none" but is there anything to it? Let's get to the bottom of this.

What is "display: none" and what can it be misused for?

"Display: none" is a CSS directive that can be used to hide HTML elements. "Display: none" is usually used in relation to JavaScript or responsive design, but it is also very popular with users of CMS or pre-made templates. "Display: none" is a very easy way to hide elements on a page without modifying the PHP code.

There is now some discussion about this practice. Google can penalize a page if it deliberately tries to influence the Google ranking through hidden text that is only visible to search engines. The whole thing is called cloaking. The question now is whether hiding elements such as the credit link in the footer or other elements of a layout is considered an attempt at deception.

Hidden links on the Google homepage

To better visualize the problem, let's take a look at the Google homepage. Google is known to be very fond of hiding links and text on all of its pages.

If we take a look at the Google homepage, activate the Chrome Developer Tools there (right click → examine element) and search for the command "display: none" (with ctrl + f) and deactivate it everywhere (a total of 4 times ), where it appears as CSS code and not as Javascript, the Google homepage suddenly looks very suspicious.

Google homepage without "display: none"

What is most noticeable is them 5 hidden links at the lower right edge. Aside from the Settings link, these are links not visible to the user

This is a prime example of how it should not be supposed to be. Apparently, Google doesn't care about the use of "display: none". If it even uses Google that hard, how bad can it be? (We'll leave the hidden input field at the top left aside.)

Google has not yet removed a page due to "display: none"

Now let's get to the bottom of the possible consequences. Google itself gives a clear answer in its webmaster guidelines on hidden text and links.

Hiding text or links in your content with the aim of influencing the ranking in Google search results can be viewed by Google as a deception and thus a violation of the guidelines for webmasters.

Thus, it must first be differentiated which intention is present in the hiding. According to Google guidelines, it would only lead to a penalty if hiding was intentionally used to influence the Google ranking. However, formulations often lead to discussion and uncertainty, which is why the following comment by Matt Cutts clears up a lot

We can flag text that appears to be hidden using CSS at Google. To date we have not algorithmically removed sites for doing that. We try hard to avoid throwing babies out with bathwater.

In German: At the time of the comment, Google has not yet removed a page due to improper use of "display: none". Matt also comments that Google tries not to penalize sites for wrong reasons.

Hidden elements are rated weakly or not at all

Apart from the comments, some statements on this topic can also be found in the Google Webmaster Hangouts. The Google Webmaster Hangouts and the Google Webmaster Central Blog are the two best sources of information about SEO.

This topic was already addressed in one of the videos from Google Webmaster Hangouts. The time stamp is included, just click on play, the right place comes immediately:

in German:

Text that is not visible to the user is rated weakly or not at all.

Google thus devalues ​​invisible text and hardly takes it into account. So if you hide a footer link, you don't have to worry that you might still be of use to the web designer in some way. Because the link is hidden, the effect as a backlink is weakened or not counted at all.


However, at the end of the day, there is no clear statement from Google on this topic. Of course, Google tries to encourage webmasters to work as cleanly as possible, but so far there is no evidence that "display: none" would or would harm anyone.

What do you think? Is it going to google hell for "display: none"?

  1. Nobody on June 14, 2016 at 6:10 am
  2. Steffen on June 17th, 2016 at 5:06 pm